Greg Olsen leads the Carolina Panthers with 17 receptions for 243 yards and two touchdowns.
RENTON — There was no lack of opinions about the play of Seahawks safety Kam Chancellor on Sunday against the Cincinnati Bengals.
The football analytic site Pro Football Focus noted that he allowed nine receptions on 11 targets for 102 yards and called it the worst performance by any safety in the NFL last week.
Seahawks coach Pete Carroll, though, said things might not always be as they seem. Carroll said two touchdown passes to Bengals tight end Tyler Eifert, cited by many as being the fault of Chancellor’s, actually were not.
“I know you guys think whatever goes out of the TV you guys think that’s what happened,’’ Carroll said. “But that’s not what happened. He played a solid football game. He had quite a few opportunities, and there were a couple of tackles that got away from him. Other than that, he was pretty much on-point.’’
Most Read Sports Stories
- Can the 5-0 Seahawks keep winning? They'll have to find answers to these five questions
- Pac-12 doesn't deserve the benefit of the doubt when it comes to the College Football Playoff
- Here's how the return of D.J. Reed and Colby Parkinson could help the Seahawks
- Will the Pac-12 be forced to cancel games? Here's how the aggressive COVID-19 testing plan could prevent outbreaks
- No. 3 is the clear No. 1: Why the MVP award is Russell Wilson's to lose
And how did Chancellor assess it?
“I didn’t have my greatest game,’’ he said. “I think I had a fair game. Of course there are some things I can work on from the game. And it will be handled.’’
Certainly, improvement by Chancellor and the defense in covering tight ends looms as a key Sunday as the Seahawks host the Carolina Panthers at CenturyLink Field.
Eifert finished as the leading receiver in the Bengals’ 27-24 overtime victory over the Seahawks, with eight catches for 90 yards. And now the Seahawks will face another solid receiving tight end Sunday in nine-year veteran Greg Olsen, who leads the Carolina Panthers with 17 receptions for 243 yards and two touchdowns.
“He’s a good comparison with Eifert,’’ Chancellor said of Olsen. “The quarterback (Cam Newton) looks for him a lot. He gets the ball thrown his way a lot. They have a lot of plays designed for him.’’
And as linebacker K.J. Wright said, “This team is going to come out and try to repeat the same things the Bengals attacked us with.’’
Attempting to attack the Seahawks with tight ends, though, is nothing new.
Last season the Seahawks struggled with tight ends such as San Diego’s Antonio Gates and New England’s Rob Gronkowski.
That history, coupled with the success of Eifert on Sunday, had some observers wondering anew if using tight ends, particularly on seam routes, is the way to beat the Seahawks.
Wright, though, said, “It shouldn’t be. It should be a strong point for us, because we emphasize it all the time to protect the seams and just stay on top.’’
Chancellor said communication errors were in part to blame for what happened Sunday, specifically on Eifert’s first touchdown, a 14-yard pass from Andy Dalton in the first quarter.
“It was just miscommunication,’’ Chancellor said. “The corner (Cary Williams) is supposed to stay on top, and I take the deep third. So that was just the issue on that play.’’
Carroll acknowledged that there were “a few’’ communication errors in the secondary, uncommon for a group that includes three players who have been starting together since 2011.
“That’s uncharacteristic of our guys back there,’’ Carroll said. “But it showed how adept Cincinnati is at taking advantage of — sometimes you make errors like that and they don’t get you, but they did (Sunday). They were pretty good at it.”
Eifert had five receptions for 62 yards and a touchdown in the fourth quarter and overtime as the Bengals rallied from a 17-point deficit. Most notable was a 25-yarder that set up the tying field goal, of which Carroll said, “Kam was all over him, just hanging on the guy, and he makes a better play.’’
Such plays had NFL.com’s Chris Wessling writing this week that Chancellor is “simply better at stuffing the run and playing enforcer than hanging with the game’s premier tight ends such as Eifert and Rob Gronkowski.’’
Chancellor and the Seahawks, though, have done a good job on Olsen, who has played against Seattle four times since 2012. Olsen has 12 receptions for 167 yards in those games and was held to five for 74 in two games last season (the teams played in both the regular season and playoffs). That includes just one for 16 in an October regular-season game, his lowest output in a season in which he had 84 catches and made the Pro Bowl.
“Whenever the tight end has such an impact on the game we are going to look at the strong-safety matchup,’’ Carroll said. “I think he (Chancellor) was challenged (against the Bengals), and with Greg Olsen he is up against the challenge again, so we’ll see how that goes. But he’s the best there is at taking on those kinds of challenges.’’