The members of the Seahawks defense realize there is only one type of defense that matters anymore this season — that which they play on the field.
Trying to defend themselves to media and fans?
The time for that, they know, has passed.
“Stop talking and just do it,’’ said safety Quandre Diggs this week. “That’s the mentality we’ve got to have.’’
The hope will be it’s just that simple to turn around a defense that continues to loom as the main obstacle standing between the Seahawks and a legit run at a Super Bowl title, beginning with Sunday’s NFC West showdown against the 49ers at 1:25 p.m. at CenturyLink Field.
But, there was hope that maybe the Seahawks had figured out a few things about the defense during the bye week prior to last Sunday’s game at Arizona.
Instead, the Seahawks gave up 450 yards and 34 points in regulation — 10 points in the final 2:33 — in an eventual 37-34 overtime loss.
There has also been hope that getting back to full health will solve much of what has ailed the Seattle defense.
But that won’t happen this week with cornerback Shaquill Griffin out, nickel corner Ugo Amadi sounding unlikely to play and strong safety Jamal Adams questionable to return after missing the last three games with a groin injury, meaning the Seahawks will have their fifth different starting secondary this season (oh, for the continuity of the Legion of Boom).
The Seahawks will also have to wait a week to add defensive end Carlos Dunlap, whom they traded for Wednesday and hope will greatly improve a pass rush that has just nine sacks and a week ago didn’t have an official quarterback hit. (Dunlap can’t play while going through the league’s COVID-19 intake protocol.)
No matter — the opponent Sunday is merely a team that played in the Super Bowl earlier this year and was last seen dismantling the New England Patriots 33-6 on the road, appearing to have put an early two-game slump in the rearview mirror.
Jimmy Garoppolo might still inspire heated debate as to whether he’s a truly elite quarterback. But having recovered from a high-ankle sprain, he completed 43 of 58 passes the last two games against the Rams and Patriots for 545 yards while operating Kyle Shanahan’s designed-to-confuse offense.
But right now the Seahawks understand it barely even matters who the opponent is — they are vulnerable against anybody.
Seattle is allowing 479 yards per game, on pace to set an all-time NFL record. The Seahawks are also allowing 368.7 yards passing per game, 35 more than any other team.
And the run defense, which for the first four games was the one thing Seattle could feel good about, has allowed 360 yards the last two games and almost 4.9 yards per carry.
All of it has begun to put some heat on third-year defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr., though when asked about Norton this week coach Pete Carroll took great pains to make clear he also is heavily involved in every aspect of the team’s defense.
While acknowledging things have to get better — at one point saying, “It’s an urgent situation right now’’ — Norton showed no apparent loss of confidence when he talked to the media this week.
“This is a situation that we certainly didn’t plan on,’’ Norton said. “But you have to deal with it. And we’re veteran enough. We have the right people in place, the right veterans in place. The guys are really committed, and they really care. So, I think if I felt that there was a group that could they could get out of this hole we’re in, this is the group that can do it.’’
Maybe in part because the problems are so vast, Norton, Carroll and players didn’t give a lot of specifics on how they can get out of that hole, instead saying it’s going to take a lot of everything from everybody.
“It’s a team game, but it starts with your individual effort to make this defense great,’’ said middle linebacker Bobby Wagner.
Added Diggs: “It’s just playing assignment football. … We’ve just got to start making plays.’’
The Seahawks actually made a few last week. Diggs had an interception a play after Russell Wilson threw one in the end zone that led to a Seahawks touchdown to put Seattle up 10 in the fourth quarter. And the defense rose up to make a fourth-down stop after Budda Baker’s interception and apparent return for a touchdown was thwarted by DK Metcalf’s jaw-dropping sprint.
It seemed those plays might be enough to get the win, the same way the defense made the key plays at the end of the New England and Dallas games.
But if the defense had been hanging by a thread as Seattle started 5-0, last week it finally fell.
Now to see if the defense can get back up as the Seahawks continue a stretch of five games following their bye all against teams with winning records, after playing their first five against teams that are all .500 or worse.
“At the end of the day we’ve got to get the job done, and we’re not doing that right now,’’ Diggs said. “But we’re finding ways to try to be better. And it’s not like we’re not putting in the work. We’re doing what we can. We’re doing what we can in practice — we’re not doing it in the game, of course. But we’ve just got to get that situated in. At the end of the day we’re six games in. We have a lot of time to make up for it.’’