Every coach has a line of criticism that they’re unwilling to cross when it comes to discussing their own players. Some, like Bruce Arians, aren’t bashful about publicly calling guys out in the media. But most coaches, Pete Carroll included, are far more calculated when discussing their team’s deficiencies.
That’s why Carroll’s comments on the Seahawks secondary this week are so notable. Seattle has given up more passing yards (1,292) than any team in NFL history through three games. No team this season has allowed more pass plays of 20-plus yards (18) and 40-plus yards (6).
“Sometimes we look like we haven’t been practicing a whole lot on the back end,” Carroll said on Wednesday.
And he’s not wrong. The Cowboys were met with very little resistance on several of their touchdown drives. Cedrick Wilson beat the Seahawks for two touchdowns on crossing routes, one for 40 yards and one for 42 yards.
“It’s been sloppy at times. The communication has not been as effective as it needs to be,” Carroll said. “We’ve had a couple of breakdowns where we give a regular, routine play access to the end zone. It’s just wrong. Getting beat over the top is a different story but when the plays come across the field and we’re in zone, that’s not supposed to ever happen.”
The busted coverages and miscommunications have regretfully been coupled with Seahawks defenders flat getting beat far too regularly. Michael Gallup beat Shaquill Griffin for a 42-yard completion down the right sideline. He also got past Tre Flowers for a 43-yard touchdown. There isn’t a member of Seattle’s secondary, Jamal Adams and Quandre Diggs, who has played up to par in pass coverage so far.
And that’s what makes the whole thing so confusing. The secondary was supposed to be one of the team’s biggest strengths with proven veterans across the board for the most part.
“We have to be better,” Carroll said. “We have to recapture the emphasis of keeping the ball in front of us with a lot of intent. It’s really important. We’ve got to get this done. We’ve got to slow guys down.”
The schedule gets a bit softer over the next two games against Ryan Fitzpatrick and the Dolphins and Kirk Cousins and the Vikings. That’s not to say those teams are slouches, but they are a step backwards talent-wise compared to what Seattle saw the first three games against Atlanta, New England and Dallas.
“I can’t imagine that we’re not going to do this a whole lot better in the coming weeks,” Carroll said.
That expectation shouldn't change even if Adams (groin) can't play against Miami. All eyes will be on the back seven to see if they're able to clean things up on Sunday.