Assigning blame for the Seahawks defensive struggles is more complicated than simply pointing to defensive coordinator Ken Norton.
Norton isn’t spared his share of the responsibility, of course, but Pete Carroll made it clear that he’s just as much to blame for a defense that has allowed the most yards through six games in NFL history.
“I’m in there too with them. I’m all part of that,” Carroll said on Monday when asked to assess how Norton and the rest of the defensive coaching staff has fared so far this season. “I’m not separating from anything here. We have to keep working here to put our players in the best positions to be aggressive and to be effective. We need to help them more in our pressure.”
For as bad as things were on defense through five games, the Seahawks hit a new low in a Week 7 loss against the Cardinals. Seattle managed just one pressure and zero quarterback hits against Kyler Murray.
Particularly down the stretch, when overcoming a 10-point fourth quarter deficit, Murray had all day to operate in the pocket. Carroll shared that the Seahawks planned on playing the Cardinals straight up, hoping they would be able to outlast Arizona without bringing additional pressure.
The Cardinals operated predominantly out of a four wide receiver personnel package and picked apart Seattle’s defense while being met with minimal resistance.
“When we needed (a pass rush), we needed to adjust, and I wish I would have gotten that done,” Carroll said. “Kenny and I are in there working that stuff out.
“(Arizona) did a nice job with that package.”
That’s why it’s important for fans wanting to see Norton sent packing to remember that Carroll has his hand in all crucial in-game decisions.
“We work real close with the whole staff,” Carroll said. “We work what the plan is. We work about calls by situations, and so we do stuff together. Kenny calls the game for the most part, and I’ll add stuff in as we’re going. I’m in the conversation the whole way with him and trying to help out as much as I can, but you’ve also got to stay out of the play caller’s mind for the most part, I believe. So I’m trying to work well complementing. I’m right in here with it, and we’re trying to get this thing knocked out and cleaned up.”
Seattle’s defense ranks 23rd in points allowed, 32nd in yards allowed, 28th in DVOA and 20th in EPA. The Seahawks 12 takeaways and a pair of short-yardage stops (one against Cam Newton and the other against Alexander Mattison) serve as the silver linings to an otherwise hapless defense.
Jamal Adams’ impending return offers some reason for hope. Adams has missed three games with a groin injury and should be nearing full strength. But it’s important to remember that Seattle’s defense was far from stellar during the first three games of the season while he was in the lineup.
Still, Carroll continued to express optimism that better days are ahead for Seattle’s defense.
“We’re going to make a turn and we’re going to turn for the better, and it’s going to make a big difference in this season,” Carroll said.
The reality is it can’t get much worse, so even marginal improvement would be a welcomed sight for Seahawks fans.