Rost: Seahawks are a contender with an incredibly concerning trend
It was clear in September that the Seahawks’ defense was going to be a problem.
They were going to get their turnovers and make a few big plays, but in the end, they would allow far too many yards for comfort. And on Sunday, Josh Allen and the Bills leaned heavily into their pass game to put up 44 points, the most ever scored against a Pete Carroll-led Seahawks team.
Likewise, it’s been clear the offense isn’t just a strength of the team but one of the best units in the league – and when they’re not firing on all cylinders, things get can get ugly. That was true when Wilson threw three interceptions in a loss against the Arizona Cardinals two weeks ago, and it was true when he threw two more interceptions and lost two fumbles against the Bills.
With very little exception, this has been the Seahawks’ 2020 season.
To Pete Carroll, though, this didn’t look like the team he knows.
“I don’t recognize that game,” Carroll said. “We haven’t looked like that, and it’s a game that I don’t have any place in my brain for it. Really had a hard time in the first half getting started on defense and on offense, and they made it look easy. When you look at it at the end of the game and you see that they didn’t even try to run the football, they just stayed with the throwing game and did a nice job with it and completed a ton of passes and all. It’s just an unusual football game in that regard.
“We just don’t turn the ball over like that, but we did today, and they capitalized on all of it and just made us pay. It was the kind of game we’re just not used to seeing and we’ve got to put it behind us and get rolling. We’ve got a lot of season left.”
If the game made you furious because you believe this is a bad team, my answer to you is that I think you’re wrong there. This is not a bad team. This is a contender with an incredibly concerning trend on defense.
If this game made you furious because you believe they have too much talent to play this poorly on defense so dang consistently, well, I’m not sure what to tell you because I don’t have any answer when it comes to that. It truly is confounding.
Fans and critics alike have wondered all season whether the offense would be good enough to push the Seahawks to a Super Bowl. Wilson’s play hasn’t been totally free of mistakes – Sunday’s loss is not solely on the defense – but he has also had a career year along with DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett. He is on pace to set an NFL record in touchdowns and has played like this year’s MVP.
There have been few teams that have scored as many points per game as Seattle over eight weeks. They became just the sixth team in NFL history to score 25 or more points in eight consecutive weeks to start a season, joining the 2018 Kansas City Chiefs, 2013 Denver Broncos, 2015 New England Patriots, 2007 New England Patriot, and 2000 St. Louis Rams. Each of those other five teams made the playoffs and four made it to a conference championship.
None of them won a Super Bowl.
The hope is, of course, that this year’s Seahawks break that trend, but they’ll need a defense that can balance out a less-than-stellar outing from the offense. This defense has been able to get turnovers and boasts two All-Pro talents. The execution, though, has been wildly uneven. They’re on track to shatter the 2012 Saints’ record for most yards allowed in a single season (7,042 yards), and not by a little. The Saints were giving up 440.1 yards per game; the Seahawks were giving up 460.9 before Sunday.
The defense’s saving grace had been its ability to fare well against the run and get turnovers, which kept it from also being worst in the league in points allowed. The Bills barely ran the ball Sunday – because they didn’t need to – and it paid off.
It’s head scratching. Even with linebacker Bobby Wagner and safety Jamal Adams, the defense has been unable to string together a complete game.
Injuries have been a factor. Caroll called it a “tough day” for cornerback Quinton Dunbar, who was playing through a sore knee and eventually had to be taken out of the game. They’re without starting cornerback Shaquill Griffin and nickel corner Ugo Amadi. It was also Adams’ first time playing since Week 3 (the disappointed All-Pro told reporters after the game he was shaking off some rust).
Execution and scheme have also been concerns, particularly against the Bills on Sunday where too often a Buffalo receiver had plenty of cushion and gained yards after the catch.
“We gave them some stuff with some misplay,” Carroll said. “We did not plan to be off them as much as it wound up looking like. That was not the plan, so we gotta see why that happened. Really it’s just such an out of character game across the board that I really don’t even recognize us.”
So, who are this year’s Seahawks? They have a great offense with a rare talent at quarterback and a burgeoning star at wide receiver. They have stars on defense, too. But next time out, can this be the defense that that bested the Miami Dolphins in Week 4? And keep in mind, Miami has since swept the rest of the NFC West since losing to Seattle.
Can Seattle’s offense do what those five other high-scoring squads could not and win a Super Bowl? Or will their championship hopes once again fall short with another heartbreaking loss in the divisional round?
Maybe the most frustrating thing Sunday was the reminder that we still don’t know the answer to that most important question.