No defense for that performance

A question for those who want Seattle to make a change at defensive coordinator: You sure that would be enough?

I was going to say that Seattle’s defense was utterly unrecognizable on Sunday in Minnesota, but that isn’t entirely true. We did see that kind of defense before. The first half of last season. You remember that, right? When the Seahawks defense was functioning more like a turnstile, giving up more than 400 yards in seven of its first eight games.

But Seattle was supposed to be beyond that now. The second-half, specifically, after the acquisition of Carlos Dunlap was a sign that things were improving. That’s why the Seahawks re-signed Dunlap and Jamal Adams in the offseason, hoping to build on the second-half improvement from last season as they forged ahead. Well, Sunday wasn’t a reality check so much as an alarm: this defense currently isn’t capable of stopping anyone so we’ll let the wailing commence in our autopsy of that cadaverous performance.

There were no penalties to point to this time, and don’t you dare to try to cite that third-down holding penalty against Ugo Ahmadi as a critical moment in the game. It was the second quarter, and the Seahawks had plenty of time to recover.

There wasn’t a single back-breaking play, either. The Vikings two longest completions came on short passes to receiver Justin Jefferson. The third-longest pass play was a screen to the running back.

What stood out about Sunday’s loss was the consistency of Seattle’s defense. The consistent inability to offer much more than token resistance to a Vikings offense that was missing Dalvin Cook, the starting running back. Kirk Cousins attempted 38 passes in the game and completed 30 of them. Seattle forced all of two punts in the game. The first was a three-and-out on Minnesota’s second possession. The next one came in the final minute of the fourth quarter, the Vikings leading by 13 points and the game was effectively over.

Combine this with what happened in the fourth quarter against Tennessee and this isn’t a cause for concern or something to worry about. This is a full-blown crisis because in the fourth season since Seattle embarked upon the heavy-lifting of rebuilding what had been a championship defense, the Seahawks don’t appear to be much better.

Internally, there will be a great deal of time spent this week talking about the fundamentals of Seattle’s defense. The coaches will talk about the run fits, the zone drops and being assignment correct. The players will talk about individual accountability. Everyone will talk about being on the same page.

Externally, the focus is going to be on the defensive coordinator. More specifically, whether Ken Norton should hold that position. I’m torn on that, and not because I think Norton is specifically good. I was surprised when he was hired in 2018 to replace Kris Richard. I thought when Norton left in 2015 it was because he had hit a ceiling of sorts on Pete Carroll’s staff, and when he came back to that position, I figured it was because Carroll wanted someone to restore a sense of swagger and confidence to the defense. Well, that hasn’t happened. But I also think that at the end of the day, this is Carroll’s defense, and there’s not anything being done that the head coach can’t veto. Is changing coordinators really going to get to the root of the problem? I’m not going to argue against a switch because I don’t think there’s a whole lot of compelling evidence that he’s helping, but I also don’t think he’s the primary problem. Letting go of him would be like a baseball team firing its hitting coach.

The question is how deep the problems go here. Seattle has spent the past four years working pretty diligently at rebuilding this defense. The secondary has been entirely turned over. A couple times now in some cases. Bobby Wagner is the lone remaining link to when this team’s league-leading defense. The pass rush was supposed to be deeper this season than it had been in years. Yet going back to halftime of the game against Tennessee the Seahawks have now allowed their opponents to score on 10 of 16 possessions.

Danny O’Neil Index

Usually I equivocate about all of the things that contributed to the loss. Oh, it was a little bit of this. That could have been better. Well, 100 percent of the blame goes on the defense for that defeat. I don’t care if the offense didn’t score in the second half and didn’t manage a single drive with more than two first downs over the final two quarters. Don’t try to talk to me about the field-goal kick that Jason Myers missed, either. There was no way Seattle was winning given the effort that was put forth.

As for the individual members, hard to know who shouldn’t get an equal share of the blame in that one. Tre Flowers finished with seven tackles, but that gives you an idea of how many passes were completed again him and not how well he played. Quandre Diggs had five tackles, but might have missed just as many in this game. Jamal Adams led Seattle with 12 stops, but he also went for the kill shot on two occasions instead of wrapping up for the stop. He also didn’t distinguish himself in coverage. Nope, everyone wears that equally. That was one of the worst defensive performances I’ve seen from Seattle under Pete Carroll in large part because it looked so easy. Minnesota didn’t ever have to throw the ball over the top. They just kept picking apart Seattle underneath.

Did Pete Carroll waste a timeout?

Like that really matters. But actually, no he did not.

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