What does Ray Rhodes think? His defense missed so many tackles on Sunday that you would have thought the New York Jets' runners and receivers were slathered in Crisco. What does Ray Rhodes...

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KIRKLAND — What does Ray Rhodes think?


His defense missed so many tackles on Sunday that you would have thought the New York Jets’ runners and receivers were slathered in Crisco.


What does Ray Rhodes think?


We’re not saying his secondary played soft on Sunday, but you don’t see that much cushion in the home furnishing section at The Bon.


What does Ray Rhodes think?


His defense is ranked 14th out of 16 teams in the NFC. His rushing defense is ranked 10th, and his pass defense is ranked 12th.


What does Ray Rhodes think?


















Sunday
Arizona Cardinals at Seahawks, 1:15 p.m., Ch. 13

His defense is ranked 26th out of 32 teams in the NFL. His rushing defense is tied for 21st, and his passing defense is ranked 23.


The Seahawks’ defensive coordinator has done a lousy job this year. What does Ray Rhodes, Seattle’s defensive coordinator, think?


The coach whose defense hasn’t stepped up continues to shut up, leaving the explanation for the defensive collapse to the players and to coach Mike Holmgren.


It means Rhodes isn’t accountable for the fact that he can’t scheme a way to get to the quarterback. He can’t scheme a way to stop the run. He can’t scheme a way to beat the better teams.


Ray Rhodes hasn’t talked to the media this season.


This isn’t meant as some professional lament. We can do our jobs just fine without using Rhodes’ quotes, but he owes an explanation to the fans who pay serious money to watch the Seahawks week after week. And he owes it to his coach and his defense to share the heat.


“I’ve known him a long time, and I know talking with the media is not one of his favorite things to do,” Holmgren said at his regular Monday media briefing. “He doesn’t want the limelight. But I do think it would be healthy for the coordinator to talk to you guys from time to time.”


The spin given is that Rhodes is too honest, that he’ll say critical things in public about his players that are best kept private, that he is painfully honest.


But that’s a cop-out. Rhodes has a lot of explaining to do.


He isn’t the motivational maven he was advertised to be. He hasn’t brought the toughness that matches his personality to the defense. And as this season has progressed, his defense has gotten worse.


Fourteen games into the season, Rhodes still hasn’t found a way to get to the quarterback. His is the worst blitz ever devised. It’s almost as if the blitzers look for somebody to run into instead of run past. And his players often have been out of position.


“I think we weren’t lined up in the right places at certain times,” safety Ken Hamlin said. “They executed, and we didn’t. They came out ready to play, and they came out and executed their offense, and we didn’t execute our defense.”


Yes, the Hawks’ defense has been punished by injuries. Rhodes’ linebackers have been cursed. Chad Brown’s broken fibula in training camp was devastating. He has played five games this season. D.D. Lewis missed the entire season with shoulder problems. Injury-plagued Anthony Simmons was lost for the season after seven games.


Grant Wistrom, who was paid a $14 million signing bonus to give the Seahawks a pass rush, has played just nine games. And nickel back Bobby Taylor has been almost no help because of a knee injury.


Still, the good teams — teams that believe in themselves and in their schemes — find ways to win.


Look at last year’s Philadelphia Eagles. The core of their defense missed a total of 85 games, but the Eagles believed in coordinator Jim Johnson’s aggressive defense. They didn’t make excuses. They plugged in players and they went to the NFC Championship Game.


Rhodes needs to answer questions like: How does a defense blow a 17-point second-half lead at home to the St. Louis Rams? How does it lose a 10-point lead in the final minutes to a bad Dallas team? In games as important as those at New England and St. Louis and at home to the Buffalo Bills, how does it start with such low energy you would have thought they all were suffering from the same virus?


“As far as getting the job done, I have total confidence in Ray’s ability if he has enough players to work with,” Holmgren said. “It’s been hard.”


There is no denying Rhodes’ toughness. He is hard on his players. He screams and swears and pushes them like a Quantico drill sergeant. But it hasn’t worked here. His defense is playing as if it has tuned him out, heard too much of the same stuff over and over again.


In Green Bay, Holmgren had one of those perfect relationships with the late defensive genius and his good friend, Fritz Shurmur. He hasn’t been able to rediscover it with either Steve Sidwell or Rhodes.


“I’ve thought about that a lot, to be honest,” Holmgren said. “I have a great relationship with Ray Rhodes, and they are working real hard. I think each year (after Shurmur) has been different.


“My concern with this year’s defense is we are very, very young, and I didn’t know how they would react to stuff. … The Rams thing hurt their confidence. With young guys, sometimes that’s all it takes, and it takes awhile to rebuild that.”


But Ray Rhodes has done a lousy job this season; and, as his .500 team slouches toward a playoff berth, we wait for an explanation.


Steve Kelley: 206-464-2176 or skelley@seattletimes.com