Seahawks

Overreaction Monday: Is it time for coaching changes on the Seahawks defense?

Seahawks

There are some spicy hot takes to sift through following the Seahawks 37-34 overtime loss to the Cardinals on Sunday night. Seattle now has a 5-1 record, which wouldn’t normally induce panic among a fan base, but there are enough troubling trends worthy of generating legit causes for concern.

Below are the top submissions with my determination as to whether or not each take is an overreaction. Thanks, as always, to those who participated.

Overreaction? Yes.

Not only is this an overreaction, but Wilson is still the leader in the clubhouse for MVP. Wilson and the offense put up 34 points and lost. Even with the three interceptions, that’s a far cry from Aaron Rodgers’ dud against the Buccaneers with just 160 yards, no touchdowns and two interceptions. Wilson posted 388 passing yards, 84 rushing yards and three scores in addition to his trio of picks.

Nobody in the MVP race has been flawless this season. Beyond that, no team has relied on their QB to the degree in which the Seahawks have relied on Wilson. He still leads the NFL with 22 touchdown passes and a 119.5 quarterback rating. Can you fathom how bad the Seahawks would be without Wilson? I know that could be said for most teams losing a franchise quarterback, but the drop-off in Seattle would be catastrophic. I’m not sure Rodgers, Patrick Mahomes or Ryan Tannehill go into a game knowing they have to score at least 30 points in order to have a chance to win. That’s what Wilson is facing on a week-to-week basis given how bad Seattle’s defense has been.

 

Overreaction? No.

It’s impossible to ignore this topic as about half of the responses were in regard to Ken Norton and the job he’s doing as Seattle’s defensive coordinator. This is a nuanced conversation for a few reasons. For starters, the Seahawks have had a number of key injuries on defense. Losing Bruce Irvin, Jamal Adams, Marquise Blair, Darrell Taylor and others isn’t Norton’s fault. There’s also the gray area of whose defense is it? Pete Carroll’s or Norton’s? It’s a bit ambiguous as to how much freedom Norton has within a defense that is structurally and philosophically built by Carroll.

Even with all that, it’s fair to question whether Norton is the right man for the defensive coordinator job at this point. That, of course, isn’t an easy conversation to have, but the Seahawks defense continues to take steps backward under Norton. Seattle has gone from 11th, to 22nd, to 23rd in points allowed over his three seasons as DC.

This season has been particularly egregious when you consider that Seattle has regrettably set a record for most yards allowed (2,875) and most passing yards (2,212) allowed through six games in NFL history. The Seahawks have a large handful of clutch plays, most notably a goal line stop of Cam Newton, a fourth down stop of Alexander Mattison and 12 total takeaways.

But we’re yet to see any extended stretch where you can objectively say that the Seahawks played good defense. Seattle is allowing scores on 46.4% of opponent’s drives. The defense is also allowing opponents to convert on 48.8% of third downs. The play calling appears unimaginative, and we’ve seen the same script play out week after week.

The Seahawks can’t blame everything on injuries as there’s still too much talent on the defense to be as bad as the group has been. San Francisco, a team arguably decimated even more by injuries, managed to dominate the Patriots and hold them to just six points in Week 7. New England put up 30 points against Seattle back in Week 2.

I’d be shocked if Carroll made a switch at defensive coordinator, but he and Norton need to do some soul-searching this week to figure out how to right the ship.

Overreaction? No.

I tried my best to find optimism for why the pass rush might improve. I pointed to total pressures and quarterback knockdowns as evidence that things were better than the sack numbers indicated. But things hit rock bottom on Sunday against the Cardinals. The Seahawks failed to register a single sack or quarterback hit against Arizona. Per Next Gen Stats, Seattle had just one pressure on Kyler Murray’s 48 drop backs.

The Seahawks have just nine sacks through six games and are on pace to record just 24 this season. That anemic total would be four less than Seattle accumulated in 2019. Again, injuries to Irvin and Taylor don’t help, but this is an awful look for Carroll and John Schneider. Improving the pass rush was priority No. 1 during the offseason, and, thus far, they’ve failed miserably in that department.

 

Adams, who has missed the last three games with a groin injury, is still the team leader in sacks with 2.0. That’s grim.

That’s why even with limited cap space and 2021 draft capital, Seattle needs to be exploring the trade and free agent market vigorously. An unhappy Carlos Dunlap in Cincinnati would be a solid first phone call.

Overreaction: Yes.

It’s important to remember that Seattle is still 5-1 with at least one-game lead in the loss column over all three of their divisional foes. So while a Week 8 matchup against the 49ers is crucial, it’s not a make-or-break game. The Seahawks still get to play the Jets as well as the entire NFC East. It’s possible that Seattle could have a losing record in the division and still find a way to win the NFC West as long as they sweep those five games.

Next Sunday will be an important bounce-back opportunity for the Seahawks, but it’s not a must-win game by definition.

Overreaction? No.

Alton Robinson playing just seven snaps against the Cardinals is a bit mystifying. It’s clear the Seahawks prefer Jonathan Bullard right now over the rookie. Robinson has been mostly solid since making his NFL debut in Week 3, which is why his reps plummeting from 35 snaps to seven is confusing. It will be interesting to see what Carroll says about that this week.

Overreaction: Yes.

Russell Wilson has seen a lot of blitzes over his career, so it’s hard to fathom that Vance Joseph sent pressure in overtime that the Seahawks quarterback hadn’t seen before. To me, it had more to do with a lack of faith in the protection in front of him. Wilson spent all of overtime under siege. An untouched blitzer sacked Wilson on third down to end Seattle’s first possession in OT. DeeJay Dallas badly missed a blitz pickup on the second drive.

Wilson’s interception in the final minutes of overtime, to me, looked like him trying too hard to make a play that wasn’t there in order to beat a blitz he felt certain would get home rather quickly. That was a poor decision, of course, but I don’t think it happened due to confusion. Still, Joseph deserves a hat tip for his fantastic play calls with the game on the line.