For four consecutive years, the Seahawks led the NFL in scoring defense, ravaging opponents who dared to try to move the ball.
That was Pete Carroll’s D.
They turned superstars such as Peyton Manning into mush, shutting down weapons on every part of the field en route to two Super Bowl appearances and one championship.
That was Pete Carroll’s D.
Coordinators Gus Bradley and Dan Quinn got head-coaching jobs after their time in Seattle, but everyone knew that Carroll was the mastermind of that defensive dynasty. And now that the Seahawks are on pace to give up the most yards in NFL history, folks should be reminded …
This is Pete Carroll’s D.
Last Sunday was another song on this album of hell for the Seahawks’ defense. They gave up 519 yards in their loss to the Cardinals and were virtually invisible on Arizona’s final four drives. The 479.2 yards per game they’ve allowed are over 50 — 50 — more than any other team in the NFL. And though the Seahawks’ league-best offense has propelled them to a 5-1 record, this isn’t a sustainable model.
Sunday, Seahawks linebacker Bobby Wagner said that the defense was nowhere close to where it wanted to be. Frankly, any other answer would have been preposterous given the feasting their opponents have done. No doubt that injuries to players such as linebacker Bruce Irvin and safety Jamal Adams have contributed to this skid. But, man … they have to get it together, right coach?
“Last week, we really wanted to see if we could make a move here and get going in the direction we felt better about. Just because you want to doesn’t mean it’s going to happen right away,” Carroll said. “It’s coming. How long can I keep telling you that it’s coming? But our best football is still ahead of us, there’s no question in our mind.”
Wednesday’s acquisition of defensive end Carlos Dunlap from the Bengals could play a crucial role in that turnaround Carroll keeps talking about. The 31-year-old averaged more than nine sacks per season from 2015-2019, and joins a team that owns the lowest QB pressure rate in the league. A healthy Adams could provide a similar, if not bigger, defensive boost given his all-pro ability, but it’s doubtful he’ll serve as a panacea.
Remember, the Seahawks had Irvin and Adams in the lineup in Week 1 against the now 1-6 Falcons and still gave up 506 yards, 450 of which came in the air. And though Irvin tore his ACL in Week 2, Adams was still on hand when Patriots quarterback Cam Newton — whose starting job is now in jeopardy — threw for 397 yards.
This issue doesn’t come down to one or two players. The Seahawks’ defense is in the midst of an identity crisis. Wednesday, a reporter asked Wagner if he could remember a time where the D had endured such strife.
“The first thing that comes to my mind, I think early on, maybe it was 2013, 2014, I can’t remember exactly, but we were holding teams to not that many points, but we were giving up scores at the end of the game, or we weren’t closing out games the way we wanted to close out games. This is kind of the reverse,” Wagner said. “We’re giving up a lot of yards, but you know, other than the last game we’re closing out or holding out you know when the game counts. I think the biggest thing is just everybody coming together and being on the same page, being positive and understanding this is going to change.”
It’s true that the Seahawks defense has been able to close out games, sometimes in miraculous fashion. It’s also true that they are a few yards away from being 2-4, which would fall primarily on the D.
The Cardinals are the only team the Seahawks have played with a winning record this season, and their next four opponents are all above .500. It’s not inconceivable that they go on a skid if the defense doesn’t improve.
This is where Carroll needs to figure it out. This is where the defensive guru needs to take something miserable and make it at least mediocre.
This has long been Carroll’s D, and right now, that D stands for desperate.