Pete Carroll breaks down Seahawks’ defensive success, pass rush woes

Dec 14, 2021, 1:46 PM
Seahawks DT Al Woods...
Rex Burkhead of the Houston Texans is tackled at the goal line by Al Woods of the Seattle Seahawks. (Bob Levey/Getty Images)
(Bob Levey/Getty Images)

Things didn’t start off so great for the Seahawks defensively on Sunday against the Houston Texans.

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Rookie quarterback Davis Mills completed his first 14 passes and led three Houston scoring drives in the first half for a total of 13 points.

But for the second week in a row, the Seahawks didn’t allow any points in the second half, and Seattle wound up beating Houston 33-13 to improve to 5-8 on the year.

The Seahawks started the year with one of the worst defenses in football and while they rank last in the NFL in total yards and passing yards allowed, Seattle’s defense is fifth in points allowed.

Head coach Pete Carroll joined Mike Salk for The Pete Carroll Show on 710 ESPN Seattle and shared his thoughts on his defense’s most recent performance as well as that unit’s play overall.

“Really it starts up front. They can’t run the football at us at all,” Carroll said. “… That’s a constant, so we build on the constant. Our guys are really suited to play the running game … And what’s happened is the linebackers have 240 (combined) tackles behind that line of scrimmage and the running game has been really good.”

That run defense has been very good of late as the Seahawks held the San Francisco 49ers, who have the eighth-best rushing attack in football, to just 71 yards on the ground two weeks ago. This  last week, the Texans had just 63 rushing yards.

Another area that Carroll is really pleased with defensively is the play of his cornerbacks, which is a bright spot despite losing rookie starter Tre Brown to a knee injury last month.

Carroll has really been impressed with the play of starting cornerback tandem D.J. Reed and Sidney Jones.

“The corner play has been so much better. They’ve been active and creative with the things that they’re doing,” Carroll said. “They’re tackling really well. They’re not big guys, they’re just studly kids doing it.”

The tackling was really on display for Jones, who had a great third-down tackle in the open field to force a Texans punt.

“He’s got deep responsibility (on that play), but he read the whole thing and and had the makeup to go for it and he made a great third-down stop right there,” Carroll said.

It’s the second week in a row where Jones came up with a clutch tackle.

“He had a great hit last week (against the 49ers) on the goal line (on third down),” Carroll said. “… Sidney has really stepped up.”

Jones’ play is especially standing out to Carroll because another Seahawks cornerback is trying to get on the field as well.

“He’s competing because he knows that Bless Austin’s trying to get some play time, too,” Carroll said. “Competition is a beautiful thing. He’s playing the best he’s played for us.”

While the Seahawks’ run defense has played well of late and Carroll is happy with the play of his secondary and linebackers, there’s one key area on defense where Seattle is still struggling to find consistent success.

“Pass rush has really been been hard to find,” Carroll said.

After this latest win, the Seahawks are tied for 29th in the NFL in sacks. Last year, the Seahawks finished seventh in the NFL in sacks.

Darrell Taylor, who is playing in his first NFL season, leads the team with six sacks after picking up another sack against the Texans (he also had one wiped off due to a penalty), but he and Rasheem Green (3.5 sacks) are the only Seahawks defenders with more than two sacks this season.

“Guys are trying it and they’re just built for another style,” Carroll said. “So we’re doing the best we can with that. But I think the defense is playing excellent football right now.”

Carroll pointed to the defense excelling against the run and in limiting explosive plays as positives, but he wants to see a more consistent pass rush. He said opponents have a high completion percentage and yardage totals because the Seahawks are playing zone defense and allowing shorter completions while limiting big plays, but that the pass rush coming alive would make Seattle that much better defensively

“I would rather rush the passer than anything. I would rather be getting after the quarterback and making him have to have to follow through,” Carroll said. “When we pressured (against the Texans), we were really effective yesterday. Maybe as you look back we could have done more, but they didn’t do anything.”

Listen to the latest Pete Carroll Show at this link or in the player below.

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