Seahawks’ offense gets plays it needs, but new D not cutting it

Sep 25, 2022, 5:26 PM | Updated: 5:30 pm

Seahawks defense...

Cordarrelle Patterson #84 of the Atlanta Falcons runs with the ball against the Seattle Seahawks at Lumen Field on September 25, 2022. (Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

(Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

A common thought of Pete Carroll’s when talking about his team through the first two weeks of the season was that the Seahawks’ offense didn’t get enough plays to get into a rhythm.

Seahawks Instant Reaction: Seattle Sports on 27-23 loss to Falcons

Whether or not that was the reason for Seattle’s offense going six straight quarters without putting points on the board is unclear. But it was clear that the Seahawks struggled mightily to stay on the field, recording just 47 and 49 snaps in each of the first two weeks of the season.

Well, the Seahawks were able to stay on the field more often in Sunday’s loss to the Atlanta Falcons. The result was 23 points and 420 yards of offense on 69 plays.

“We had a lot of plays, we converted on third down, we took care of the ball up until the last play. The QB was on it,” Carroll said after his team’s 27-23 loss on Sunday. “Geno (Smith) had a really good, solid football game. Did a great job for us.”

Smith did play well, completing 32 of 44 passes for 325 yards, two touchdowns and an interception on fourth-and-long at the end of the game. That coupled with a solid run game was what Carroll was looking for, especially from his quarterback after the offense was rather conservative to open the year with Smith not putting up many yards through the air.

“That’s a heck of a football game he threw,” Carroll said. “He’s doing his part.”

That’s obviously a good sign after scoring just 17 points between Week 1 and Week 2.

But the key issue in this game was the key issue for the Seahawks the last few years: The defense was once again just not good enough, and the end result was the Falcons winning their first game of the 2022 season.

In the offseason, the Seahawks began a decent overhaul of the defense. Sure, many of the names remained the same, but there was a new voice calling the shots in Clint Hurtt, and the scheme changed from a 4-3 base defense to a 3-4.

But through the first three weeks of the season – especially in Week 3 against the Falcons – it looked like the same Seahawks defense that we’ve seen for the last few years as we watched an opponent march up and down the field. If anything, this defense has felt arguably worse.

“Some of it is,” Carroll said of whether the struggles defensively are due to the new-look defense. ” … It’s newness. We have to clean things up and we have to progress faster. There’s no time. We have to get better now.”

The Seahawks have ranked at or near the bottom of the league in pass defense since 2019. They regularly gave up chunk yardage and struggled to get opposing offenses off the field. But those defenses were typically stout against the run and didn’t give up as many explosive passing plays as you’d expect for a team ranking so poorly in pass defense.

Big plays in both the run and passing game were far too common for the Falcons on Sunday, though, as Atlanta recorded seven passes of 20-plus yards and four runs of 10-plus yards, or what the Seahawks consider explosive plays.

All in all, the Falcons’ passing attack didn’t put up the gaudy numbers the Seahawks have typically allowed the last few years as quarterback Marcus Mariota threw for 229 yards and had two turnovers. But he was able to beat the Seahawks with some big plays early in this one and actually missed a few throws that could have given Atlanta a bigger lead early.

As has been the case this year, the run defense just could not contain plays, especially out on the edge. The Falcons rushed for 179 yards as a team and lead back Cordarrelle Patterson had 141 of that along with a score. The Falcons finished the afternoon with 5.8 yards per rush, with nearly all of that damage coming on outside runs on the edges.

“We have to fit things up more accurately, more consistently. We have to clean up the way it’s happening there,” Carroll said. “… We’re not hitting it like we’d planned to and we have to clean that stuff up … We can’t give up the spacing that we’re giving up. It’s looking like it’s too easy for them. It’s something that we’ve been focusing on, but we haven’t changed it yet and we need to get that done.”

That comes after the Seahawks allowed 189 yards on the ground in San Francisco last week and surrendered more than 5 yards a carry to a Denver Broncos team in Week 1 that shockingly didn’t try running the ball more.

“We can’t give up the rushing yards we’re giving up. It’s too much,” Carroll said.

Carroll’s message to his team was simple after falling to 1-2 on Sunday.

“How tough the league is. How tough it is every week and every game. They’re so hard and everything comes down to the end and you’ve got to finish up,” he said. “We’ve just got to keep battling. These games are there for us. We know we’re good enough to win these games. We’ve just got to play to the moment.”

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Seahawks’ offense gets plays it needs, but new D not cutting it