Defensive issues concerning for Seahawks


Defensive issues concerning for Seahawks

RENTON, Wash. (AP) What started out as a mild concern for the Seattle Seahawks became a full-blown issue after losing to Detroit.

For all the success Seattle has enjoyed this season on the defensive side - being ranked No. 1 in the NFL in total defense just a couple of weeks ago - the ability to make stops on third down has been a nagging problem.

After watching Detroit convert 12 of 16 third downs and six of them 8 yards or longer in Sunday's 28-24 win over the Seahawks, it's moved beyond just a problem for Pete Carroll's crew.

``It's disturbing. I'd like to be how we are in the rest of our game,'' Carroll said on Monday. ``We'll try and take a turn here. We've had some deep discussions about it and see if we can get it fixed right away.''

The attention and accolades that Seattle's defense has received at various times this season was earned. They did hold Aaron Rodgers and Green Bay to just 12 points. They did shut down Tony Romo and the Cowboys. And they did keep Tom Brady and the Patriots in check long enough for Seattle's offense to rally.

But the loss to Detroit was the second time this season that Seattle's defense had a chance to make a game-saving stop and couldn't get the job accomplished. In the season opener at Arizona, Kevin Kolb came off the bench and led the Cardinals' final drive for a winning touchdown.

On Sunday, it was Matthew Stafford marching the Lions 80 yards in 16 plays, capped by Titus Young's 1-yard TD catch on third-and-goal with 20 seconds left. Detroit converted three third downs on the final drive.

``Our ineffectiveness on third down allowed them to move the ball throughout the game when they did, but in particular the last drive they just out-executed us going down the field,'' Carroll said. ``We were there and we mixed our calls, we tried everything and we weren't able to catch up with them. They made the plays and won the game.''

According to STATS Inc., the Seahawks now rank last in the NFL in allowing conversions on third-and-6 or more, giving up first downs 39 percent of the time. The issues aren't necessarily at 6, 7 or 8 yards, where Seattle is allowing just 9 conversions in 31 attempts, but surprisingly start at 9 and 10 yards or more.

Seattle has allowed 16 conversions in 37 plays of third-and-10 or more - 43 percent. No other team in the NFL has allowed more than nine. The Lions' were 3 of 5 on third downs of 10 yards or more on Sunday, including two conversions of 11 yards and one of 10.

Carroll said some of the problems lie with the youth of his defense and making sure communication is correct. Stafford also surprised Seattle with his patience in coming off his main reads and throwing underneath, giving his backs and receivers on shorter routes the opportunity to run after the catch.

Stafford was 34 of 49 for 352 yards with only three completions going to star receiver Calvin Johnson. Nineteen of Stafford's completions went to running backs or tight ends.

``It would be easy if we had gotten beaten in man coverage the whole time or the zone stuff or the pressures,'' Carroll said. ``We did make some mistakes that they took advantage of, some real little technical things ... they took advantage of every one of them and were so efficient down the stretch. Just shows you that was a really good quarterback that we played and he was able to carry it out throughout the game and get the win.''

On top of the defensive problems, Seattle is now thin at wide receiver. Carroll said Doug Baldwin was a longshot to make it back this week from a high ankle sprain suffered against San Francisco. Ben Obomanu and fullback Michael Robinson were at a specialist Monday having their injured wrists examined, while Braylon Edwards was getting an MRI after his knee unexpectedly swelled and forced him to miss Sunday's game. Golden Tate also tweaked an ankle in the loss, but Carroll said he was fine.

As of now, Seattle's only healthy receivers on the active roster are Sidney Rice and Charly Martin.

``We've got to find out what's the deal with (Obomanu) and we're not going to know about Doug and the likelihood is not great for Doug so we're looking at our options here,'' Carroll said.


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Need to Know: The forecast for Redskins Park today is a media circus

Need to Know: The forecast for Redskins Park today is a media circus

Here is what you need to know on Tuesday, August 21, three days before the Washington Redskins host the Broncos in their third preseason game. 

Talking points

Looking at a few different topics this morning:

—What was going to be a normal, ho-hum Tuesday preseason practice at Redskins Park will now be on hyperdrive thanks to the addition of Adrian Peterson. After mostly ignoring the Redskins for most of the offseason the national media will turn out in force to chronicle the arrival of AD. Yes, it’s AD as in All Day as I was reminded by several Sooners on Twitter in the past few days. I suppose that now that he’s here I’d better get it right. 

Derrius Guice underwent surgery to repair his torn ACL yesterday (see his tweet below). I haven’t heard but I assume that someone will say that the surgery was a success. Looking at a recovery time of about nine months, Guice could be ready for the start of OTAs in mid-May. But given how cautious this organization tends to be with injuries during the offseason program, we may not see him on the field until training camp. 

—Speaking of injuries, there were over a dozen players who were not participating in practice on both Saturday and Sunday. As I noted here a couple of days ago Jay Gruden has become very tight-lipped when it comes to giving out information on injuries. And teams are not required to give out any injury information at all during the preseason. So it’s hard to sort out veterans’ days from players with minor injuries that are being rested because the game isn’t until Friday from injuries that are reasons for legitimate concern. The first injury report will come out two weeks from tomorrow, so we are mostly in the dark until then. 

—I’m hearing from fans and some in the media that undrafted free agent Cam Sims is a lock to make the 53-man roster. I would suggest pumping the brakes. He has a great opportunity and I have him on the 53 in my last prediction. But he has been erratic. The Jets preseason game, where he made a big-time error when he had a pass bounce out of his arms, turning a completion into an interception then made some key, acrobatic catches was essentially a microcosm of his training camp. He needs a strong finish both in practice and in the two remaining preseason games to get locked into a spot. A few plays like the botched reception and he could be on the outside looking in. 

—Montae Nicholson quietly had a good camp and he has played well in two preseason games (he was one of the few starters to play against the Patriots). He struggled in coverage in the early part of camp. The Redskins are changing their scheme to play left- and right-side safeties instead of free and strong. That means that Nicholson, who played free last year, had to learn the coverage responsibilities for both positions on both sides of the field. It took him some time to get up to speed and during that time it was not unusual to see Nicholson trailing behind a receiver who had a couple of steps on him. He is not immune to making mistakes or just getting beaten on occasion (news flash: NFL rules are set up for DBs to get burned). But he should get the job done most of the time and be the player the Redskins hope he will be. 

Bureau of statistics

Nicholson’s 40 time at the NFL Combine in 2017 was 4.42, the third fastest among safeties and tenth fastest Amon all defensive backs. 

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The agenda

Today: Practice at Redskins Park 1:00; Jay Gruden news conference and player availability after practice, approx. 3:00

Upcoming: Preseason Broncos @ Redskins (Aug. 24) 3 days; Final cut (Sept. 1) 11 days; Season opener @ Cardinals (Sept. 9) 19 days

In case you missed it

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page, and follow him on Twitter  @TandlerNBCS and on Instagram @RichTandler


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Baltimore Ravens crash Andrew Luck's homecoming with 20-19 preseason win

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Baltimore Ravens crash Andrew Luck's homecoming with 20-19 preseason win

INDIANAPOLIS -- The Baltimore Ravens spoiled Andrew Luck's Indianapolis homecoming.

They picked him off before allowing a completion, and Terrell Suggs nearly chopped the ball out of Luck's hands on a sack. The Ravens then secured a 20-19 preseason win over the Colts by stopping a late 2-point conversion run.

Luck was just OK in his first home start since Jan. 1, 2017. But he did receive a roaring ovation from the crowd when he took the field, led the Colts to one score and apparently emerged unscathed after going down twice on sacks.

"Not too sharp, certainly red-zone turnovers are a negative, missed a couple of throws I'd like to hit," he said. "And I didn't feel like we, as an offense, got into any semblance of a sustained rhythm."

Expectations were high following a solid start in Seattle.

This time, the Colts (1-1) looked sloppy.

Luck missed his first three throws, the third winding up in the hands of Ravens safety Anthony Levine Jr. Luck rebounded to finish 6 of 13 for 50 yards and set up 45-year-old Adam Vinatieri for a 57-yard field before leaving in the second quarter.

If Luck had his way, he might have played longer. But first-year coach Frank Reich wasn't taking any chances with Luck's surgically repaired arm.

"We just never found a rhythm for him and some of his balls were not his best balls," he said. "But I still have a lot of confidence we're headed in the right direction."

Joe Flacco, Lamar Jackson and the Ravens looked better.

Flacco went 7 of 9 for 72 yards and one touchdown. Jackson then showed flashes of what helped him win the 2016 Heisman Trophy.

Jackson was 7 of 15 for 49 yards and a TD and carried four times for 26 yards before giving way to another Heisman winner, Robert Griffin III, in the fourth quarter.

Indy still had a chance at the end after Tarell Basham recovered a fumble at the Ravens 9. Five plays later, Phillip Walker threw a 9-yard TD pass to Zach Pascal with 2:24 left. But the Ravens (3-0) stopped Walker on the 2-point try, recovered the onside kick and ran out the clock.

"Happy to get the win," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. "We did a lot of things that weren't winning football, especially in the second half."

The Ravens made it tough on Indy all night.

They stopped Indy twice in the red zone and nearly had a third when Jordan Wilkins fumbled the ball into the end zone, where it bounced right into the hands of receiver Chester Rogers.

Flacco gave the Ravens a 7-3 lead early in the second quarter when he hooked up with John Brown on a 7-yard score, and Jackson's masterful hurry-up drive at the end of the first half ended with Justin Tucker's 38-yard field goal with 2 seconds left.

When Colts rookie Nyheim Hines fumbled away the opening kickoff of the second half, Jackson hooked up with Chris Moore on a 7-yard TD pass to make it 17-10.