The results suggest things have never been worse for the Seahawks defense in the Pete Carroll era.
Bobby Wagner’s experiences suggest to him that this isn’t a totally foreign feeling — that he has been through struggles before, even during the best of times for Seattle’s defense.
“You know, we’ve had moments on our great defenses in the past — 2012, ’13, ’14 … where we weren’t playing as well as we wanted to play,” Wagner said Wednesday afternoon. “We had moments where we weren’t doing the things that we practice or we were supposed to execute. We understand it’s all part of the process.
“Sometimes it takes longer than it needs to, but when you put the focus on what you need to do and when you add discipline and consistency to it, good things happen.”
The Seahawks hope to draw on that experience from their veteran linebackers — Wagner and K.J. Wright — to help turn around a defense that surrendered 44 points in Sunday’s loss at Buffalo.
Defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr., the subject of much of the public ire for the defense’s struggles, acknowledged the obvious on Wednesday: The defense has to be better.
“I don’t think any of us had thought at this point that we’d be playing like we are,” Norton said, adding, “The numbers (are) nowhere where we expected to be. Some things are going well; a lot of things aren’t.
“But the guys are fighting, the guys care, the guys are coming up (early), they’re staying late, they’re trying to figure it out. And I really like the attitude and the commitment that everyone has shown, that togetherness to understand the hole that we’ve dug together, and we’re going to have to find a way to get out of the darkness and find some light. And the best way for us to find light is to move ahead to move forward and continue working.”
Carroll has been preaching patience. His players say they aren’t panicking heading into Sunday’s key NFC West showdown against the Rams in Los Angeles.
“It’s frustrating,” Wagner said of the loss to Buffalo, “because you kind of felt like you were moving in the right direction.”
But, he added, “We don’t have time to sit here and think about the past. We’ve got to get right, and we’ve got to do better. And we’ve got to figure out ways to get off the field and make the plays I know we’re capable of making.”
On Wednesday, Carroll reiterated that the lack of continuity has been at least part of the problem for this defense. The Seahawks incorporated several new starters to open the season — namely, Jamal Adams and Quinton Dunbar in a rebuilt secondary — and have had to reconfigure rotations just about every week because of injuries.
Carroll shot down the idea that coaches’ “in-game adjustments” have been slow to develop. The question was prompted after Carroll acknowledged Sunday that he and his staff needed to adapt quicker to Buffalo’s offensive approach.
“No,” he said Wednesday, “I don’t think it’s any different than ever before. … I don’t mind accepting it. That’s my job, to get this thing done, ultimately. I’m the first one to tell you that.
“We just have to keep coming together; we have to get this thing really cleaned up. And, again, unfortunately the continuity has not been a positive factor for us yet. And so hopefully we can find a way to fit together and get our new guys in there and get them playing really well and error-free and to their nature and utilize their talents and all that — and we’ll see a turn.”
Carroll has leaned on Wagner and Wright — who have 19 seasons of combined experience playing for him — to help bridge any communication gaps between coaches and players. “Perfect teammates,” Carroll called them.
“I rely on those guys; I know them so well,” he said. “We’ve been connected in a really rare way, that you have this long time to be with guys. And they’re great guys to deal with — their work ethic and their habits and their care and their love for this team and community. I mean, it just doesn’t stop.”
The season’s second half kicks off for the Seahawks in L.A. on Sunday. Wagner says he believes a defensive turnaround isn’t far off.
“We’re sitting at 6-2 … and we have time to do some great things,” he said. “We just have to put our mind on it, focus on it and get it done. And I’m confident in our guys, confident in our coaches, and I believe it’s going to get done.”