Ken Norton Jr. tried to downplay the significance of this “accountability meeting” you keep hearing about. But Bobby Wagner and Pete Carroll had already squeezed the toothpaste out of the tube, each noting the impact of the session.
“A lot has been made of that meeting,” Norton said. “We have meetings every week. Game plan meetings. There are meetings of the mind. There are meetings of the heart. Every time there are things going on. It just so happens that we won that week and we played well. All the meetings are important.”
This one seemed to have a more poignant impact, though. Each player, from starters to third-stringers, were asked to talk through the specifics of their role and responsibilities. The exercise offered a thorough breakdown of Seattle’s defense and defined how all three levels are expected to operate within the parameters of the scheme.
The goal was for added accountability on an individual level, obviously, but also a greater connectivity between players while they’re on the field.
“I think there was clarity,” Norton said. “I think everybody understood what everybody else was doing. I think people were free to express their feelings, free to understand what their roles are, understand what everybody else was doing and kind of bring it all together.”
Wagner said that the defense normally starts building camaraderie during OTAs. The lack of any in-person offseason program, coupled with an injury plagued start to the season left Seattle with a glaring lack of continuity.
“That has been limited a lot, especially with the virtual meetings and things of that nature,” Wagner said. “I think Coach Norton felt it was important to have the guys that you’re playing around – just listen to them speak the game and listen to them talk.”
It would be an oversimplification to say that Seattle’s standout defensive performance against Arizona in Week 11 was a direct result of this accountability meeting, but it’s fair to say it helped to a certain degree.
The Seahawks allowed just 21 points, sacked Kyler Murray three times and limited the Cardinals star quarterback to 15 yards rushing. The defense exhibited an obvious attention to detail in regard to gap responsibilities in order to contain Murray. Seattle avoided the missed assignments and busts that plagued the defense through the first nine games of the season.
Now the challenge is to do it again and prove it wasn’t a one-off showing. Theoretically, that shouldn’t be an issue against an Eagles offense that ranks 24th in points scored this season.