Pete Carroll Show: ‘Disappointed’ in Seahawks’ defense not fixing reoccurring miscues
Just a few days after coming away with a big win in the division, the Seahawks lost an NFC West game to the Los Angeles Rams 26-17 Thursday night in a rather strange contest that drops Seattle to 2-3.
The Seahawks were in control in the first half and held the Rams to just a field goal, but the offense couldn’t add on at the end of the first half, which quickly proved to be costly.
“We were rolling along. We liked the way the game was going,” Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll told Mike Salk on 710 ESPN Seattle’s Pete Carroll Show on Friday morning. “We were feeling like (we were accomplishing) some of the things we wanted to get done. We were slowing them down on defense, we were winning on third down, we were taking care of the quarterback with the pass rush in the first half. We missed our opportunity to get the second score there in the two-minute situation. We would have been in pretty good shape there, but we weren’t able to get that done. And then in the second half there were a handful of plays that just kind of came in a flurry.”
In that two-minute drill, quarterback Russell Wilson found receiver Tyler Lockett for a touchdown that would have made it 13-3 in Seattle’s favor, but left tackle Duane Brown was flagged for holding to negate the score. Kicker Jason Myers, who was perfect in field goal tries a year ago, then missed his second field goal of the year a few plays later, and the Seahawks entered halftime up four points instead of seven or even 11.
After halftime, the Seahawks’ defense reverted to what we’ve seen from it throughout the year.
“A few of them were the same kind of plays that were in behind us in our zone stuff and they were able to make explosive plays on us,” Carroll told Salk. “Really it’s a short defense where you try to make them get the ball underneath us and we didn’t do it properly. We broke down. And it happened a couple weeks ago (in Minnesota), too, and that’s alarming to me that we didn’t fix an issue that we saw back in Minnesota that was very similar.”
The Rams’ offensive output started on a deep third-and-10 completion to DeSean Jackson on Los Angeles’ first drive of the third quarter. Carroll was upset about that play because it was a poor throw and was defended properly.
“They had the big play. The big third-down play where they chucked it and they were very fortunate that that happened,” Carroll said. “That was a significant play.”
Instead of that pass falling incomplete and the Rams punting, they scored a few plays later to take the lead and never relented. The Seahawks’ defense continued to struggle the rest of the game, allowing over 450 yards yet again.
“We screwed up an opportunity to get a great win,” Carroll said.
Here’s a bit more of what Carroll had to say from the loss.
Defense’s key issues
Carroll went fairly in-depth talking about his defense, saying opposing teams are running shallow underneath routes with wide receivers running routes over the middle of the field above the linebackers/inside defenders. Carroll said that forces the inside defenders to pick between staying in their spot to take away the deeper route, which forces the underneath pass, or coming up, which allows the deeper receiver to be open.
Too often, Carroll said, the linebackers are coming down. That, along with an inconsistent pass rush, are allowing teams to get big plays over the middle of the field.
“If they have the chance to hold the ball to see the initial drop of the linebacker and see the inside pass defender bite up, then they can throw the ball behind them,” Carroll said. “And that happened about four different times in the game and all in different varieties. It wasn’t the same route. It was different stuff and it just caught us and we were in different coverages, too … I’m really disappointed because in the league, one of the things you have to do is you have to fix your problems from week to week because teams see everything and they study every play and they’re going to try you and see if that issue is still available for them.”
Simply put, Carroll thinks the issue lies with execution rather than the scheme or play calls.
“These are not principles that aren’t fundamental or basic to us. We’re getting antsy in our set-ups and our coverage and we’re biting on stuff we don’t need to bite on, and we need to hold off and be more patient and let the ball get thrown underneath us. We’ve been doing this for years,” he said. “Unfortunately a couple weeks ago we saw it and then it came back … We’ve been working on it, too, and that’s the part that’s disturbing to me … What this is is a work in progress and we’ve got to get better and unfortunately, it kills us because we had to give up a game to get to this next step.”
Asked if the Seahawks have the defensive talent to get things right, Carroll responded: “Yeah, we do.”
Jamal Adams’ play on defense
That deep completion to Jackson came with safety Jamal Adams in coverage.
Adams was a few steps ahead of Jackson, but Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford underthrew the pass. Carroll didn’t see anything wrong with Adams’ play on that long completion.
STAFFORD 🚀 DESEAN JACKSON
Jackson: 25th career catch of 60+ yards 🤯
— PFF (@PFF) October 8, 2021
“He got himself in a situation where that deep ball was thrown and he was deeper than the guy that was running the route like he was supposed to be,” Carroll said.
Because Jackson, one of the best deep threats in NFL history, was the receiver, Carroll said Adams was making sure he wasn’t going to get beat over the top.
“And the ball’s underthrown and it’s just a funky play,” Carroll said. “… Unfortunately nobody else could help him, and we had the guy double-covered at that time. Unfortunately they make a huge play out of it.”
Adams hasn’t made nearly as many big plays in 2021 after tallying 9.5 sacks in 2020, an NFL record for a defensive back. Salk asked Carroll if Adams was being used differently than last season.
“Not necessarily. We’re using him more specifically in some stuff we’ve been able to develop,” Carroll said. “Pressures have to do with opportunities in formations and things like that, too … He’s in every game plan. His number was called. He got moved out of some stuff because of formations and things like that where he didn’t get to (rush). We still want him to rush and still be part of it.”
Lack of rhythm on offense
Even before star quarterback Russell Wilson was knocked out of the game with a finger injury on his throwing hand, the offense had tallied just one touchdown in three quarters.
The lack of rhythm that was seen the first four weeks of the seasonwas on display again, and Carroll made it clear Friday that that’s something they’re working to fix.
“If you look at the games, there have been portions of it that look great. But if you look at the games, we haven’t really found the rhythm that’s been consistent throughout (a full game),” he said. “They’re still working at it. We’ve been explosive, we’ve made plays, we had great opportunities and we (got) behind them last night a couple times and we were working with the running game. It’s the consistency we’re all looking for throughout the game. Unfortunately it hasn’t quite been there.”
What helped the Seahawks stay in Thursday’s game despite the lack of offensive output was the play of backup quarterback Geno Smith, who led two scoring drives in his first two series taking over for Wilson, including a 98-yard touchdown drive where he completed all five of his passing attempts.
— Seattle Seahawks (@Seahawks) October 8, 2021
“Fortunately, Geno came in and sparked us with his attempts,” Carroll said.
Wilson is seeing a finger specialist to determine the severity of the injury and whether he’ll miss any time. If the Seahawks do have to go with Smith as the starter, Carroll is confident in the offense.
“We can do everything we can do with Russ with Geno,” he said. “Geno’s magnificent in understanding the system and all that, and you can tell that.”
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