Seahawks need to ‘get our act together’ as run D struggles continue

Dec 11, 2022, 5:36 PM | Updated: 5:42 pm

Seahawks Panthers...

Chuba Hubbard of the Carolina Panthers is tackled by Quandre Diggs of the Seattle Seahawks at Lumen Field on December 11, 2022. (Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

(Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

Another week, another game where the Seahawks got dominated in the run game.

The Seahawks fell to the Carolina Panthers 30-24 on Sunday, and for the second time in three weeks, Seattle allowed more than 200 yards on the ground.

Seahawks Instant Reaction: Seattle Sports on 30-24 loss to Panthers

It’s been a bit of a “same old story” for the Seahawks of late, and the numbers sure back that up.

This time, Carolina rushed 46 times Sunday for 223 yards. Over their last four games, the Seahawks have allowed 838 yards on 163 rushes, or 5.14 yards per carry. In this game, Carolina quarterback Sam Darnold needed just 120 passing yards to help his Panthers come away with a road win.

“They ran the ball really well in the fourth quarter,” Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said of Carolina’s rushing attack after the Week 14 loss. “We respected them that they would try to do that, and when they went to it, we couldn’t get off the field.”

In that four-game stretch, the Seahawks have gone 1-3 and allowed over 160 yards in each game. They’ve also gone from 6-3 and leading the NFC West to 7-6 and on the outside of the playoffs looking in. Additionally, all four of those games have been against teams with sub-.500 records.

Carroll admitted postgame that struggling against sub-.500 teams is frustrating and that the manner of those struggles in particular stand out.

“It’s really happened on the ground,” he said. “I’m really disappointed in that because I pride myself in thinking we can scheme our way into all kinds of good things.”

At times after games, you’ll hear coaches and players say that teams gave different looks than normal on either side of the ball. In this game, the Panthers didn’t do anything unexpected, Carroll said.

“They ran their game. That’s their running game,” Carroll said. “We were trying to knock them back and we couldn’t get it done. We tried everything that we had to get it stopped and we weren’t able to stop it.”

What made this game different than some others this year in which the Seahawks’ run defense struggled is the Panthers didn’t have one clear lead back leading the charge. Chubba Hubbard and D’Onta Foreman each had 74 yards on the ground on a combined 35 carries, and two other players rushed for over 30 yards, including Darnold.

“Our guys are trying. They’re working hard to get it done,” Carroll also said. “We went through all of the process during the weekend to line it up so we knew what they were doing. We were not fooled by anything today. We were on it, but you have to play the line of scrimmage, you have to get off blocks and you have to play together and guys have to fit together … It wasn’t good enough.”

Carolina really shined on the ground in the second half, rushing for 145 yards after halftime. Part of the Seahawks’ struggles on Sunday was the absence of veteran defensive linemen Shelby Harris and Al Woods, Caroll said. Harris was inactive due to illness as he showed up Sunday “sick as a dog,” Carroll said. Woods, meanwhile, left the game in the first half due to a heel injury.

“Those are two heavy, heavy dudes up front that really we’re relying on,” Carroll said. ” … Al couldn’t come back for the second half and not having Shelby, it really made a difference.”

Overall, run defense has been an area of focus for the Seahawks of late, and that won’t change this week with an impending Thursday night matchup with the San Francisco 49ers, who lead the NFC West and have won six in a row. The 49ers love to run the football under head coach Kyle Shanahan and they will likely lean heavily on star back Christian McCaffrey as third-string rookie quarterback Brock Burdy will get another start following season-ending injuries to both Trey Lance and Jimmy Garappolo.

“We’ve got to get this thing turned and we’re still on it,” Carroll said. ” … It’s got to turn around really fast against a really good club and we’ve got to get our act together.”

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