The Seahawks may not have had tight coverage during Sunday’s 30-17 loss at Minnesota.
But coach Pete Carroll made up for it by being exceedingly tight-lipped when he talked to the media Monday via Zoom.
Carroll allowed that “there’s a competition kind of brewing” at the cornerback spot after Kirk Cousins threw for 323 yards and three touchdowns in leading the Vikings to 23 straight points after Seattle grabbed an early 17-7 lead.
But otherwise, Carroll offered few specifics as to what the Seahawks will do to fix a defense that ranks last in the NFL, allowing 440.3 yards per game, reviving sordid memories of the first half of last season.
Carroll keeping things close to the vest may be expected, not only out of trying to keep future opponents in the dark but also because Carroll himself may be somewhat flummoxed as to what has gone wrong with a defense that rebounded in the second half last year to rank as one of the best in the NFL over the final eight games and returned most of its key parts in 2021.
“We’re working on it,” Carroll said. “We have plans. I can answer that effectively and clearly that we have plans.”
Those may include giving more playing time to cornerbacks other than Tre Flowers and D.J. Reed, who each struggled against the Vikings.
According to Pro Football focus, Flowers gave up seven receptions on seven targets for 78 yards. Flowers is allowing a passer rating of 139.6 for the season, according to PFF.
Reed, meanwhile, gave up three receptions for 29 yards and two TDs — each in the second quarter as Minnesota grabbed the lead for good — according to PFF.
Seattle did not have a pass defense in the game from a defensive back and does not have an interception this season.
Afterward, both Reed and Flowers intimated that they felt the scheme was holding them back some.
Flowers defiantly said his confidence level was “High. High as hell. I mean, I don’t care what anybody says … I know I’m playing good. Everybody can get better. If you want to point the finger at me, go ahead.”
Carroll said he hadn’t seen what Flowers and Reed said. But he said he felt Seattle’s cornerbacks could have been more aggressive.
“It felt like they threw the ball underneath us quite a bit,” Carroll said. “We didn’t do much to disrupt that. I thought they played a solid conservative game but didn’t make any plays that could’ve changed it for us. We could’ve used a couple here and there. Unfortunately, we didn’t get anything from any of the guys on that side of the ball.”
Seattle has some options at cornerback if it wants to use them. Former Husky Sidney Jones is listed as Flowers’ backup at right corner and Carroll said he thought about playing him Sunday. Seattle also has recently acquired John Reid and Bless Austin as backups as well as 2021 fourth-round pick Tre Brown, who can come off injured reserve this week.
“I’ll let you know when I know more about that,” Carroll said of the cornerback competition. “But it’s ongoing.”
The comments of Reed and Flowers, as well as some heated conversations among players on the sideline, led to the idea there is some dissension in the ranks.
Carroll didn’t directly address that idea but said the players are not totally bound to the scheme and have some leeway to change some coverages as they see fit.
“We can always challenge,” Carroll said. “There is freedom in our scheme. There always has been for them when they’re played up and back, and on the line of scrimmage in that they have to make a choice depending on the situation and the call and the split and all of that.“
Carroll said the corners played off quite a bit against the Vikings “probably more than we would like if we go back and do it again. But they do have some choices they can make.”
But the play of the corners was far from the only issue Sunday. Seattle had only one sack and four quarterback hits and Carroll pointed to that as the main reason the Seahawks have forced only two turnovers this season (one of which was Carson Wentz’s bungled snap on a fourth down in the opener).
“We need more,” Carroll said of the pass rush. “We need to be more effective. We have not disrupted the quarterback. That shows you in terms of turnovers and us being able to get after that football. It starts there. Our guys are working it. They’re busting their tails to get it. We just need to work together. I think the whole thing just needs to work together tighter.”
With the Seahawks at 1-2 and staring up at two teams leading the NFC West at 3-0 — Arizona and the L.A. Rams — they have no time to waste to make it work better.
— Three players can come off IR this week — cornerback Tre Brown, offensive lineman Cedric Ogbuehi and tight end Colby Parkinson. Each can return to practice this week and then practice for up to 21 days before Seattle has to place them on the roster. All three are players who figured significantly in Seattle’s plans before the season. Seattle, though, would have to cut someone from the 53-man roster to make room. “There are decisions to be made to give them an opportunity and we are excited about that,” Carroll said. “We will know more in the next couple of days. They can come back before they are ready to play and start working, so we are excited that those guys will have a chance now. The three-week time frame seemed to work out to the benefit of those guys so they will have a chance to possibly get out there.”
— Carroll had no specific update on the status of defensive end Benson Mayowa, running back Rashaad Penny and right tackle Brandon Shell, who were each inactive Sunday due to injury. Said Carroll: “We don’t know yet on those guys. We will wait until Wednesday and then will know more on all three of those guys.”
— Carroll reiterated he hopes rookie receiver Dee Eskridge will make it back this week after sitting out the last two games with a concussion. Said Carroll: “He got a really good report coming out of the work that he had done over the weekend, but we will see. We haven’t seen him running around, but he feels really good and is excited about getting back.”