In the wake of the Seahawks’ first loss of the season you had questions. Lots of questions.
So let’s get to a few in our weekly mailbag.
Question: @prime_kj asked: “Should (defensive coordinator Ken) Norton be worried about his job?’’
Answer: Let’s get right to it — the topic du jour is obviously the defense, which is on pace to shatter the NFL record for most yards allowed in a season at 479.2 per game, or 7,667 over 16 games. The current holders of that dubious mark are the 2012 Saints, who allowed 7,042 yards, or 440.1 per game.
And while offensive numbers are up around the league, Seattle’s yards per game is a whopping 54 more than the 31st-ranked defense in the league, the Atlanta Falcons, who recently fired head coach Dan Quinn.
So yes, if that continues, everyone’s jobs on defense will be re-evaluated, starting with Norton. But could an in-season change happen?
Anything is possible in a year when the Seahawks have legitimate Super Bowl hopes as well as the creeping realization (OK, more like cascading after Sunday) that the defense is the one really big thing potentially standing in the way.
Carroll has made significant changes to his staff before, such as after the 2017 season, when offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell and offensive line coach Tom Cable were each fired and defensive coordinator Kris Richard wasn’t officially fired but moved on to another job.
But those were all after-season changes.
In-season changes happen in the NFL but aren’t really frequent, and I think it’d really be a last resort for Carroll (and yes, since I mentioned Quinn above, I know a lot of people want him back. At the moment, there’s been nothing to indicate that would happen in season).
And for all the criticism of Norton, it’s important to remember he’s really popular with a lot of key defensive players, especially linebackers Bobby Wagner and K.J. Wright — Norton was their first NFL position coach in his role as the team’s linebackers coach from 2010-14.
It’s also important to remember that Carroll — who made his initial name in the NFL as a defensive coordinator with Jets and the 49ers and whose background is almost all on defense — is heavily involved in every aspect of the defense.
When the Seahawks tied an NFL record for allowing the fewest points in the league for four straight years from 2012-15, they did so with three different coordinators — Gus Bradley in 2012, Quinn in 2013-14 and Richard in 2015. And the point there is that, while each made their own contribution to things, the overall schemes and philosophies had been set by Carroll.
Not to mention that Carroll and John Schneider had assembled a team of Hall of Famers on defense.
That’s an obvious point that sometimes may still be easy to overlook — there’s a reason for the old coach’s saying that “it’s not about the X’s and the O’s but the Jimmy’s and the Joe’s.’’
But the defense needs to be — and should be — better.
Asked to assess the performance of Norton and the defensive staff on Monday, Carroll made clear that he’s part of the mix, too.
“We’re continuing to work,’’ Carroll said. “I’m in there too with them, you know. So I’m all part of that. I’m not separating from anything here. … We did not try to get after them very much (Sunday night). That was not part of the plan going in, and when we needed it, we needed to adjust. I wish I would have got that done.’’
Carroll, though, said that while he’s heavily involved in the planning during the week, he tries to stay out of the way of the specific calls as much as possible on gameday.
“Kenny calls the game, for the most part, and then I’ll add stuff in as we’re going,” Carroll said. “I’m in the conversation the whole way with them and trying to help out as much as I can. But also you got to stay out of the play-caller’s mind for the most part, I believe, and so I’m trying to work well complementing and that’s why I’m right in here with it. We’re trying to get this thing knocked down and cleaned up and all that.’’
Reading through those quotes may indicate that what’s more likely than making any coaching change is that Carroll might decide to get more involved in some of the gameday play-calling and adjusting. But obviously, eventually anything and everything is on the table if nothing gets better.
Q: @chucko24 asked: “Is this possibly the best offense In team history paired with the Seahawks worst defense statistically?”
A: As of today it would be.
As noted above, the Seahawks are on pace to shatter the NFL record for most yards allowed.
Obviously that would shatter the team record, too, which is 6,391 yards allowed (or 399 per game) by the 2000 team.
Seattle is also on track to allow the most points in team history, currently at 28.6 per game. The record is 26.8 per game by the 1976 expansion squad.
But the positive is that Seattle is likewise on track to shatter the team record for most yards in a season.
Seattle is averaging 425 yards per game, which would far surpass the team record of 378.6 in 2015.
Seattle is also averaging 33 points per game, on pace to break the team record of 28.25 per game set by the 2005 team.
So yes, the numbers show this season is currently on course to be one of more bizarre in team history — if not NFL history. Not that simply watching this team each week hasn’t made that pretty loud and clear already.
Q: srasmussen503 asked: “The most disappointing play was the last third down of regulation. Two yards to win the game. Wish they wouldn’t have taken it out of Russ’ hands. Do you think coaches need to adjust mentality? Burning 30 sec then punting does nothing in today’s nfl. Took them 30 sec to get a FG.”
A: To reset the situation, Seattle got the ball back at its own 14 following Arizona’s TD that cut the lead to 34-31, with 2:25 left (and in what was an underrated play, the Cardinals did a nice job to kick the ball to the 5, where Tyler Lockett — in his first return of the season — could get only nine yards).
Seattle’s goal there was obviously to get two first downs and run the clock out.
The Seahawks got one pretty quickly, with Wilson gaining nine yards on a first-down scramble, which took it to the two-minute warning, with Carlos Hyde then picking up the first down to the 26. Arizona used its first timeout, and at that point the Seahawks wanted to at least make the Cardinals use all three of their timeouts.
Seattle did that with three straight runs by Hyde, the last of which — as the reader notes — came on third down, with Hyde stopped for no gain at the Seattle 34.
Carroll said later they previously had success with that specific play (and if you watch the replay, maybe it works if there hadn’t been some apparent confusion on the offensive line as Damien Lewis ran into Ethan Pocic at the snap).
Carroll also said later that Wilson could have changed the call based on what he saw.
“There was options there in the calls that we made where he could have been throwing it,’’ Carroll said. “There was things in there. So we didn’t forget about him.”
Running at least ran the clock down from 1:42 at the snap to 59 seconds by the time Michael Dickson punted.
Here’s another thought — everyone involved may have remembered the New England game.
Recall there was controversy after that game when Seattle faced almost the same scenario — a third-and-1 at the Seahawks 31 with 1:55 left.
In that game, Wilson ended up throwing incomplete on a deep shot to Lockett, though as Carroll noted later, the play included options for shorter and safer routes that were instead covered, compelling Wilson to try to go for the kill shot.
One difference is that the Patriots still had two timeouts in that game, so simply wanting to run down the clock wasn’t as much of a factor in the final play selection.
The Pats memorably then got the ball and drove to within a yard of a win.
In keeping with what kind of season this has been, the most successful offense in team history thus far has twice now failed to put games away, needing just one and two yards to do so and trying both running and passing.