RENTON — It was all just about perfect for Pete Carroll and the Seattle Seahawks.
They avoided looking past lowly Jacksonville and turned in an impressive 45-17 rout on Sunday that put Seattle in position for possibly the first 4-0 start in franchise history.
Carroll called a special team meeting early last week to make sure that coming off a division victory over San Francisco in Week 2, the Seahawks didn’t jump ahead to an anticipated Week 4 matchup at Houston.
Their focus was where Carroll wanted it last weekend and the Seahawks now have a shot at being 4-0 for the first time.
“I think it’s a good start. Any way you can get to 3-0 that’s darn good,” Carroll said Monday. “We have a lot of room to improve. We have obvious areas we have talked about on offense, just to get out of our own way. I think the running game is still growing. I don’t think we are there yet with being as precise as we will be. Defensively, we’re off to a great start. I really like what is going on.”
Taking full stock of where the Seahawks sit will likely come next week when they have completed the first quarter of their schedule after playing in Houston on Sunday. But the progress made against Jacksonville, especially on offense, was a step Carroll needed to see.
Seattle got rid of the careless penalties that put the Seahawks in difficult down-and-distance situations in the first two weeks.
Their passing game, which was choppy against San Francisco, found a rhythm and Russell Wilson was efficient while throwing four touchdown passes in just 2 ½ quarters. Seattle QBs completed passes to eight different receivers, including nine passes caught by tight ends Zach Miller, Luke Willson and Kellen Davis.
“We took advantage of everybody,” Carroll said. “Everybody did something yesterday.”
Seattle didn’t come away from the easy victory completely healthy, but none of the injuries are expected to be long-term.
Defensive end Red Bryant left the game with back spasms and was sore Monday, but Carroll believes he’ll be fine in a few days. Jermaine Kearse suffered a sprained ankle, but was no longer in a walking boot Monday, and right tackle Breno Giacomini had a sore knee that caused him to be pulled early.
None of those issues are expected to linger and the Seahawks should have starting outside linebacker Malcolm Smith (hamstring) back for Sunday’s game.
Getting Smith back would only add to a defense that welcomed back defensive end Chris Clemons and cornerback Brandon Browner on Sunday. Clemons got 16 snaps in his first game action since suffering a major knee injury in last January’s playoff win in Washington. He ended up on the final stat sheet for only one quarterback hit, but Carroll said he’s ready to be used more going forward.
“He got enough done that he’s in, he’s playing. This week we’ll get more out of him and he’ll be close to just normal, I’d imagine,” Carroll said. “He’s still going to feel new out there, so we made some good progress there.”
Clemons’ return adds to a defensive line that has performed well in the first three weeks. Seattle has gotten a consistent pass rush even with Clemons out and Cliff Avril missing the opener. The biggest impact has come from Michael Bennett and his ability to get quarterback pressure rushing from the inside and the outside. Bennett had 1 ½ sacks and four quarterback hits Sunday.
“I can feel the difference in (defensive coordinator) Dan (Quinn’s) emphasis and it’s playing to the strengths of our players well,” Carroll said. “It’s a very consistent three games for our defense.”
Notes: Seattle officially placed LT Russell Okung on injured reserve with the designation to return and signed OL Caylin Hauptmann off Cleveland’s practice squad. Hauptmann signed with Cleveland as an undrafted free agent in April. … Carroll said he was impressed with the play of rookie offensive linemen Alvin Bailey and Michael Bowie, and rookie RB Christine Michael. “We’re really excited about them coming up,” Carroll said.