Seahawks Takeaways: Defense the big issue again, but offense is lacking
The Seahawks are 1-2 to start the 2021 season after falling to a team they have historically taken care of in the Minnesota Vikings, who took the Week 3 matchup with a rather dominant 30-17 victory in Minneapolis.
A lot of the issues that plagued the Seahawks on both sides of the ball in a tough Week 2 overtime loss to the Tennessee Titans were on full display against a Vikings team that entered the game without a win.
It wasn’t pretty for Seattle, but we still better dig into just what is going on with this team right now.
Yes, the defense is this team’s biggest problem
Last week, people fooled themselves into thinking the Seahawks’ offense, which put up 30 points and didn’t turn the ball over, was the main problem against the Titans despite the defense allowing nearly 600 (!) yards when you add in penalties.
I will preface this with no, I am not saying that the offense is blameless/without fault/without major issues and so on and so forth (we’ll talk about them next). I just think that if you’re looking at this football team, the defense is a much bigger problem, and it sure showed against the Vikings.
We were all interested in whether the second half surge we saw last year from this defense was real or a mirage. It certainly appears to have been the latter, especially considering this group is made up of essentially the same personnel (though Shaquill Griffin and K.J. Wright could both be used right about now).
Last week, Seattle collapsed in epic fashion against the Titans after jumping out to a 24-9 lead at halftime. Derrick Henry broke a few big runs and had 182 yards and three scores, and Ryan Tannehill threw for 347 yards while facing little pressure from Seattle’s front.
The Seahawks didn’t give up 532 total yards to the Vikings, but they gave up 453 and once again struggled to get off the field, allowing Minnesota to convert 9 of 13 third-down tries.
The Vikings have one of the best receiver duos in the NFL in Adam Thielen and Justin Jefferson, and on most days, both will make some plays. The issue here was that the Seahawks’ cornerbacks, especially Tre Flowers, appeared non-competitive most of the game, allowing easy completions to those two up and down the field. Jefferson and Thielen combined for 15 catches, 168 yards and two scores.
— Minnesota Vikings (@Vikings) September 26, 2021
Cousins has played good football as well and deserves his share of credit. He completed 30 of 38 for 323 yards and three scores. As pointed out by Jake and Stacy host Jake Heaps, a former NFL quarterback, those incompletions Cousins threw really were not because of anything the Seahawks did defensively, but rather were Cousins just missing throws.
For all the talk of the Seahawks’ pass-rush rotation being a strength of this team entering the season, that group had just one sack (Darrell Taylor) and four quarterback hits. And of those four hits, three were by linebackers Bobby Wagner, Jordyn Brooks and Cody Barton. The other one was by Carlos Dunlap.
As mentioned, the secondary struggled in coverage and with tackling. We saw a lot of plays where a completion occurred and a defender would be turning his head looking around as if he expected help or something else from his teammates. The linebackers really didn’t make any splash plays, either, and the Vikings didn’t miss a beat without star running back Dalvin Cook. Alexander Mattison had 171 yards from scrimmage, including 59 yards on various receptions, such as screen plays.
Seattle just never seemed to force the issue defensively and it was just far too easy for Cousins, Mattison, Jefferson and Thielen to move the ball up and down the field at will.
The defense appears to be a mess, and is a little reminiscent of when Seattle lost in overtime to the Arizona Cardinals last year.
What came of that was the well-publicized “accountability meeting,” which helped stir the aforementioned second half surge defensively. Will there be another meeting? Can this group get on the same page before it’s too late? It all starts next week against the San Francisco 49ers.
The offense sure as heck ain’t blameless, though
The defense is far and away the biggest problem with this football team, but the offense had played its own role in Seattle’s 1-2 start.
The Seahawks have scored a combined 62 points in the first half. They’ve scored 13 points total in the second half this year, and they were shutout in Sunday’s final two quarters against a Vikings defense that, let’s be real, doesn’t scare anyone.
If this week against the Vikings felt similar to last week against the Titans, it’s because it really was. Last week, the Seahawks scored one touchdown after halftime, had the ball just one time in the third quarter and struggled mightily to move the ball. That was basically what happened again this week in a nutshell, except for the whole scoring points thing.
Quarterback Russell Wilson was on fire to start the game and the offense scored on each of its first three possessions. But Wilson and the offense stalled over and over again in the second half.
In a key situation with the Seahawks down 10 with just under 12 minutes to go, Wilson had Freddie Swain wide open over the middle of the field on third-and-7. There was some pressure, but he sailed the throw and the ball fell incomplete. Seattle punted it back to Minnesota, and the Vikings drove 88 yards in 12 plays and scored a field goal, making it 30-17 while taking over 7 minutes off the clock.
The good news for the Seahawks on offense? DK Metcalf had a big game with 107 yards and a score, Chris Carson had 80 rushing yards and a score and Tyler Lockett appears to have avoided a major injury as he returned to the game after laying on the ground following a reception in the second half.
Can't touch Chris! @ccarson_32 takes it 30 yards all the way for the touchdown!
— Seattle Seahawks (@Seahawks) September 26, 2021
But the bad news is the second half woes appear to be in full effect, and a lot of the mojo we’ve seen from first-year coordinator Shane Waldron’s offense is disappearing after halftime.
Third downs, which were an issue both last year and last week for Seattle offensively, came back again. Seattle converted its first three third down tries but went 0 for 5 the rest of the game.
All the ingredients are there for the Seahawks to possess one of the best offenses in the NFL, but for whatever reason it just hasn’t clicked for a full 60 minutes yet. Some of that is dependent on the defense getting off the field and allowing the offense to at least attempt to get in a rhythm, but the Seahawks’ offense still needs to do more with the opportunities presented to them.
It doesn’t get any easier
With the Seahawks in an unfamiliar 1-2 hole and coming off back-to-back losses, you’d think (hope?) it gets easier.
Nope. A tough four-game stretch awaits.
Next up for the Seahawks, a battle with the 2-0 San Francisco 49ers, who have yet to play in Week 3 as they host the Green Bay Packers on Sunday Night Football.
Then, it’s a quick turnaround as Seattle hosts the 3-0 Los Angeles Rams on Thursday Night Football. The Rams beat the defending Super Bowl champion-Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 3.
After the Rams is the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday Night Football. The Steelers, like the Seahawks, are 1-2, but Seattle is hitting the road for that one.
And to wrap up the four-game stretch, the New Orleans Saints come to town for Monday Night Football in Week 7.
Oh, and as of this writing, the rest of the NFC West is undefeated.
Seattle, we may have a problem.