Clayton: Seahawks’ pass rush woes aren’t going away — in fact, it’s worse than 2019

Oct 26, 2020, 5:04 PM | Updated: 5:10 pm

Seahawks defense...

The Cardinals had success in the air vs. Seattle as Kyler Murray didn't sustain one QB hit. (Getty)


The defensive problems of the Seahawks finally caught up to them.

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In one of the craziest games in what has been a crazy season, the Seahawks lost to the Arizona Cardinals in overtime Sunday night, 37-34. It was a game in which Russell Wilson threw three interceptions. It was a game in which DK Metcalf prevented a Cardinals touchdown by using his 4.33 40-yard dash speed to catch Cardinals safety Budda Baker on one of the most magnificent hustling plays ever seen in the NFL. It also helped that the Seahawks’ defense then stopped the Cardinals and didn’t allow them to score.

There were so many times the Seahawks could have won the game. Some penalties hurt. Defensive end Benson Mayowa, who has played well, got a 15-yard launching penalty that gave the Cardinals the chance to get a touchdown instead of a field goal. David Moore got a holding penalty on what would have been a game-winning touchdown by Metcalf in overtime.

This was just a crazy game, but two things were learned. The Seahawks really do have a serious problem with the pass rush. Plus, the “Let Russ Cook’’ offense, which has been great, could lead to turnovers.

The Seahawks shouldn’t panic. They had never been 5-0 in franchise history. They were going to lose games. As bad as they feel about losing Sunday night, two teams went through worse experiences last week. The Kansas City Chiefs lost at home to Las Vegas Raiders, and the Green Bay Packers were blown away by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Stuff happens, and teams just have to bounce back.

The most concerning part of the loss to the Cardinals was the lack of a pass rush. This was almost historic. Kyler Murray attempted 48 passes. He wasn’t sacked. The Seahawks did not register one quarterback hit. Next Gen Stats had them with only one pressure. Putting that in perspective, the last time a defense didn’t register a quarterback hit in a game like this was in 2014 when the Indianapolis Colts did it in 49 passing plays.

The trade deadline is next Tuesday. It’s evident the Seahawks need help and a trade could boast things. Mayowa has been good, but the Seahawks need better than good. In six games, they have only nine sacks. Last year was bad enough with only 28 sacks. This year they are on pace for 24.

The question has been, can the Seahawks sustain winning despite the defense? Wilson made enough plays to win Sunday night, but that still wasn’t good enough. Things have to tighten up and tighten up fast. Sunday started the most important five-game stretch of Seattle’s season. The Seahawks did well stopping the run in the first half. They did a good job forcing Murray to throw shorter throws.

But the longer Murray was able to run around without being hit, he got into a rhythm and the long drives and scores began. There are plenty of teams experiencing similar problems, including the Tennessee Titans and the Packer. Though the Packers can generate more of a pass rush, they have just as much trouble stopping teams on defense. And as good as talented as the Titans are on defense, they have only seven sacks in seven games.

The other issue is the “Let Russ Cook” concept. It’s worked and allowed the Seahawks to get off to faster starts and earlier leads, but it means Wilson will throw the ball more. That’s resulted in six interceptions (including three alone Sunday), which puts him on pace for double-digit interceptions for just the fourth time in his career and the first time since 2017. As of now, the Seahawks throw the ball 68.5% of the time. They run it 31.5%. That’s not the 50-50 balance being sought. It also hurts that Chris Carson has a mid-foot injury that could sideline him a couple of weeks.

Again, there is no need to panic, but a few things need to be fixed and thought out.

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