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Moore’s 10 Seahawks Takeaways: Is Norton’s time as DC winding down?

The Seahawks are on pace for one of the worst defenses of all time under Ken Norton. (AP)

Welcome to Tuesday’s Top Ten Takeaways, a weekly column that takes a look back and look ahead with the Seahawks.

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• 10) While watching the MLB playoffs, it occurred to me that the Seahawks’ defense is like Mike Zunino, the former Mariner who now plays for the Tampa Bay Rays. We all remember Zunino as a terrific guy and great defensive catcher who couldn’t hit for average to save his life. He struck out a lot but when he connected, there wasn’t a ballpark that could contain him.

During the 2020 regular season, Zunino averaged .147 but the other night in Game 1 against the Astros, he delivered the game-winning RBI single. It’s typical of Zunino, who in spite of all of his strikeouts came through once in awhile, just like the Seahawks’ defense.

Ken Norton’s unit gives up yardage in huge chunks but still manages to make big plays or come up with interceptions or forced fumbles to stop drives. On occasion anyway. The Seahawks are tied for second in the league with 10 takeaways, two behind the Browns. Question is, can they keep it up?

• 9) Speaking of the defense, it’s on a record-setting pace. The Seahawks have allowed 2,356 yards already, averaging 471 a game, far and away last in the league. If this pace continues, they’ll allow 7,359 yards this year and annihilate the old record of 7,042 yards allowed by the Saints in 2012. As Pro Football Talk noted, that Saints team went 7-9. Meanwhile, the Seahawks are 5-0.

• 8) John Schneider has been heavily criticized for recent drafts, particularly with his first-round selections that have not lived up to expectations. But I’ve always thought he should get a lifetime pass for finding Russell Wilson in the third round, and maybe he should get a second lifetime pass for picking DK Metcalf late in the second round.

Metcalf has been so good that he’s not just getting questions about being the No. 1 receiver on the Seahawks, as in: Has he overtaken Tyler Lockett as Wilson’s favorite target? Most of us would say yes at this point, but now we’re seeing Metcalf comparisons to all-time-great receivers through their first 21 games and wondering if he’s a top-5 receiver in the league. Consider this: Would you trade Metcalf for any other receiver in the league, even DeAndre Hopkins? Not at his age, not with his potential.

• 7) Chris Carson thinks he’s a top-five running back in the league, and I agree with him. But as the season goes on, the more I’m thinking he won’t be back with the Seahawks in 2021. Wilson is throwing to him more than ever before, but he’s averaging five fewer carries than he was through five games last year. I sense that he’s not on board with letting Russ cook as much as everyone else seems to be. Carson could be worth $10 million, maybe even $12 million in free agency, but I don’t see the Seahawks giving him that much when he’s not a focal point of the offense anymore.

• 6) Every time I think this defense might prevent the Seahawks from getting to the Super Bowl, I think that I might be wrong about that. For one thing, they’re 5-0 with this bad defense and 2-0 without Jamal Adams, who is expected to return from his groin injury next week against the Cardinals. Plus, when you look around the NFC, who’s going to stop them from reaching the Super Bowl? Green Bay? Tampa Bay? Chicago? New Orleans? The Rams? I’d take the Seahawks over every other NFC team on a neutral field and would feel good about my chances except for maybe the Packers. I don’t even want to think about what Aaron Rodgers would do to this defense.

• 5) The next time your boss asks you why you still haven’t finished the project he gave you two weeks ago, I dare you to yell in his face: CAN YOU WIN THE GAME IN THE FIRST QUARTER???!!!! And so on. I don’t know, it seems to work for Pete Carroll.

• 4) Seems like a no-brainer to replace Norton with Dan Quinn, but would Schneider and Carroll make that kind of a move with a 5-0 team? Highly doubtful, but if the defense continues to rank 32nd in the league even after Adams, Rasheem Green and Jordyn Brooks return, shouldn’t that be a consideration? As I’ve said many times on Bob, Dave and Moore, it’s not just this year’s defense, every defense with Norton as the defensive coordinator, here and with the Raiders, has ranked below average, and this one in Seattle has gotten progressively worse in the last three years.

• 3) Who’s your most surprising Seahawk through the first five games? Metcalf? Ryan Neal? K.J. Wright defying Father Time? Someone else? How about Ethan Pocic, who has quickly become a good center, allowing zero pass pressures in his last three games?

• 2) Scheme-wise, what should the Seahawks do when Adams returns? Should they let him blitz as much as they did before he got hurt? If so, it puts more pressure on an already beleaguered pass defense when he doesn’t get to the quarterback. But you can’t take away Adams’ strengths as a pass-rusher, can you? Certainly not with a defense that has produced only nine sacks in five games, a pace for 25, three fewer than last year. If Norton asked for my advice – fat chance of that happening – but still, if he did, I’d tell him to keep cutting it loose with Adams, and if it doesn’t work out, at least you went down swinging with an aggressive game plan.

• 1) I know I’m a doom and gloom kind of guy more than a sunshine and lollipops kind of guy, but I did write a post last week suggesting that the Seahawks could go 14-2 this year and break the all-time franchise record of 13-3 set by the 2005 and 2013 teams. Which games are they most likely to lose? I think the two losses will happen in back-to-back weeks – at Buffalo on Nov. 8 and at the L.A. Rams on Nov. 15. The two games against San Francisco look more winnable than they did before the season began, and I do think splitting with Arizona is a definite possibility.

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