In various postgame press conferences this season, Pete Carroll has noted things he wished he could have or would have done differently.
He’s spoken about helping out a struggling defensive line in terms of providing pass rush help. He lamented playing the Cardinals straight up down the stretch rather than showing different looks. Just last week, Carroll expressed his surprise that the Bills ditched their running game as well as his regrets for not giving an ailing Quinton Dunbar more help in coverage.
Those instances beg the question: What is keeping the Seahawks from making those in-game adjustments? Carroll didn’t have a specific solution to share, but he did take ownership for what has gone wrong with Seattle’s defense.
“I don't mind telling you that -- accepting it," Carroll said Wednesday. "That's my job, to get this thing done ultimately, so I'm first one to tell you that.
“But we just have to keep coming together and get this thing really cleaned up. Unfortunately, the continuity has not been a positive factor for us yet. Hopefully we can find a way to fit together and get our new guys in there and get them playing really well and error free, to their nature, and utilize their talents and all that, and we'll see a turn.”
Injuries have certainly taken their toll. Bruce Irvin and Marquise Blair are on Injured Reserve. Benson Mayowa has missed two games. Quinton Dunbar, Shaquill Griffin, Ugo Amadi and Jamal Adams have all missed multiple games. Jordyn Brooks missed two games. Rasheem Green had to spend a stint on Injured Reserve.
A lack of continuity makes it a challenge to implement a game plan on a week-to-week basis. It makes it even harder to tweak that game plan on the fly.
On the other hand, the defense should have enough talent, at least on paper, to be respectable. That hasn’t been the case for most of the first half of the season. Bobby Wagner, K.J. Wright, Quandre Diggs, Jarran Reed, Poona Ford and others haven’t been able to keep the ship afloat amid the barrage of injuries. Seattle ranks 30th in points allowed, dead last in yards allowed and is on pace to allow more passing yards in a single season than any team in NFL history.
Wagner explained that the key to making in-game adjustments is to first identify what’s going wrong. Then it’s on the coaching staff to figure out what counterpunch to throw. The thing is, the solution can’t be worse than the problem, meaning everyone has to be comfortable and confident that not only will the new plan work, but that they’re capable of executing it.
“You don’t want to change to something that you’ve never practiced,” Wagner said. “You don’t want to panic.”
A silver lining is that the Seahawks pass rush exploded for seven sacks against the Bills. However, that optimism is quickly diminished by the realization that Seattle might have to face the Rams in Week 10 without Griffin and Dunbar.
Still, the team’s leadership remains steadfast that the defense’s best days are ahead.
“I’m confident in our guys, I’m confident in our coaches that we’re gonna get stuff done,” Wagner said.
Added Carroll: “This is the halfway point and this is a marker. I would really like to see us turn it. You've seen us already adjust some in how we're doing calls and stuff. We're just trying to fit it together to maximize our guys.”