Seahawks inability to make in-game adjustments remains Seattle’s fatal flaw


The Seahawks inability to make in-game adjustments has been a common thread that has plagued the team on both sides of the football this season.

Earlier in the year, Pete Carroll mentioned on a few occasions that he needed to help out a struggling pass rush with more varied pressure packages. After a Week 6 loss to the Cardinals, he also lamented that playing Arizona’s offense “straight up” down the stretch was a mistake.

Now Brian Schottenheimer has gone on record saying that the Seahawks offense didn’t do a good enough job adjusting on the fly during last Sunday’s loss to the Giants. Russell Wilson and Co. scored just 10 points in what was arguably the biggest dud of the Pete Carroll era.

Schottenheimer and Wilson each explained that the Giants emphasized staying on top of Seattle’s receivers and limiting explosive plays in the passing game. And yet, the Seahawks continued to dial up long, deep-developing routes to no avail.

The result was five drive-killing sacks, an 11-yard intentional grounding penalty and a number of off-schedule checkdowns.

“I probably could have adjusted a little bit better and thrown more of the underneath stuff,” Schottenheimer conceded. “We were hunting and we were trying to go get them and they were sitting back there and that led to us having to hold the ball a little bit. I think they did a really nice job of preventing us from doing that. In those situations, we have to do better with the play calls.


“(Russ) and I are both wired the same way. We’re both pretty aggressive and want to go for it, and in that game, it was not the right formula.”

But what is the biggest challenge of pivoting in real time? Why couldn’t they recognize the wrong “formula” mid-game and shift course rather than pounding sand for 60 minutes with a game plan that wasn’t working?

I wasn’t able to ask Schottenheimer those follow-ups as time ran out on his Zoom presser. But Wilson was asked to discuss why Seattle was unable to find a proper counterpunch against the Giants defense.

“You want to trust your game plan going into it,” Wilson said. “It’s the first half next thing you know the score is only 5-0. Normally we’d been doing really efficient football, which, the first drive we moved up and down the field. We didn’t score a touchdown but we moved the ball really well.”

Wilson went on to explain that the Giants offense aimed to take the air out of the ball and slow the game down while reiterating that the first half “was over before we knew it.”

That explanation, with respect, feels like a cop out. Sure, New York’s offense emphasized the running game with backup QB Colt McCoy under center. But that doesn’t change the fact that the Giants had just four first downs in the first half and failed to score a point. Seattle had five first half possessions and a 16:15-13:45 edge in time of possession.

That should have been a big enough sample size to go into the locker room at halftime and collectively come to the conclusion that their plan wasn’t working. Whether the real reason Seattle didn’t shift course was due to arrogance, stubbornness, ignorance or a combination of the three, it’s all pretty baffling and troublesome.

There’s a justified stigma around the Seahawks inability to adjust on the fly. The comments from Wilson and Schottenheimer this week only reinforce that fatal flaw.