Pete Carroll dissects Seahawks’ ‘frustrating’ run D, rushing attack
The Seahawks’ recent struggles continued on Sunday, falling to the Carolina Panthers 30-24 for their third loss in four games.
While there were many things that went wrong for Seattle in Week 14, the big issue once again was the team’s run defense.
For the fourth game in a row, the Seahawks allowed more than 160 yards on the ground. In fact, it was the second time in three weeks where Seattle allowed its opponent to rush for over 200 yards.
During his weekly radio show on Seattle Sports 710 AM, Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll dissected the loss and discussed what went wrong.
Carroll called the beginning of the game a “really terrible start” as the Panthers drove down the field and took 8 minutes off the clock on a field goal drive. Carolina then picked off Geno Smith’s first pass of the game and scored on the very next play. Right away, the Seahawks were down 10-0.
But Seattle’s defense then slowed things down, Carroll said, while the offense picked things up. The Hawks entered halftime down 20-14 and cut it to 20-17 in the third quarter while keeping the Panthers scoreless.
“Third quarter was quiet. And then fourth quarter, we couldn’t get off the field and we needed to get a drive to go get a touchdown,” Carroll said. “… We needed to win a drive on one side or the other in the fourth quarter and get a win. And then it just gets where they’re running the ball every snap and it looked terrible. It’s a bad feeling and all that about that game.”
Ultimately, the Panthers rushed for 223 yards with much of that coming in the fourth quarter. Those recent struggles in the run game have naturally been frustrating for Carroll and the Seahawks.
“We haven’t seen a lot of mystery stuff now. We haven’t seen a lot of new stuff. We’ve seen teams pretty much doing what they’ve been doing and what we’ve been practicing against, which is frustrating because we see this stuff and we’re able to talk about it on the sidelines and make sure that we’re making the fine-tuning adjustments and stuff,” Carroll said. “But you’ve still got to make those freaking plays. You’ve got to make those tackles and you’ve got to knock them back and you’ve got to keep them from falling forward where they can keep running that ball again. We need to force him to throw the football. The last couple games (our opponents) didn’t throw the ball very well at us, and they haven’t had to.”
The Seahawks changed their defense to a 3-4 front this offseason under first-year defensive coordinator Clint Hurtt, and that side of the ball struggled at the start of the year before getting into a nice groove partway through the season. But since a Week 10 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the Seahawks have mostly been unable to stop opposing rushing attacks.
That all caused Mike Salk to ask Carroll whether the Seahawks have the right personnel.
“We have to fit the personnel to the scheme. We have to fit our guys into what we’re doing. We’re trying to maximize,” Carroll said. “There was a time early in the year when we made a little adjustment that really made a difference for us. That held together for a while. We hung with it, and we had to keep adjusting and keep moving.”
On Sunday, big nose tackle Al Woods played the 5-technique defensive end spot, Carroll said, which placed him on the tight end side of the formation to see if they could “use his size and girth and the style of play that he brings.” Woods “did a good job” but hurt his heel in the second quarter and didn’t return.
“We were hoping to get an impact out of that change right there,” Carroll said.
“We always need to be better. We always need to have guys that can make the plays for you,” he later added. “It’s a lot easier when the guy rips in the backfield and makes the tackle … We have to find our ways best to situate our guys so that they can make the things happen that they’re capable of doing, and just keep scrambling to get that done.”
The other run game
While the Seahawks have been unable to stop the run on defense over the last four games, they’ve also struggled to run the ball during that time.
Seattle has allowed 838 rushing yards in its last four games compared to totaling just 240 rushing yards on offense, including 46 against the Panthers.
“We have to balance that out. We’ve got to make it go,” Carroll said of the Seahawks’ run game. “… It’s just not happening the way it’s got to happen for us to be successful consistently, particularly against really good teams. That just has to be evened out. And if we don’t do that, then we’re going to wind up on the other end of it again.”
The Seahawks didn’t have lead back Kenneth Walker III or No. 2 back DeeJay Dallas against Carolina due to ankle injuries. Will either play when Seattle returns to the field Thursday against the San Francisco 49ers?
“We’ll see from Kenneth this week. He’ll practice his way back into being able to go. We’re going to look at him today on the field and see what happens,” Carroll said. “We’re going out again today to get started on the week. It’s a light work week because of the shortness of it but we’ll still figure that out, and he’ll be able to show us (if he can play), so we’ll see how that goes. DeeJay, I don’t know. He’s still coming back from his high-ankle (sprain). It’ll be a great comeback if he’s able to come back this week.”
One positive about the quick turnaround is Seattle won’t have much time to think about Sunday’s loss. Carroll said he’s “thrilled” the Seahawks play the NFC West-leading 49ers on Thursday so they can “get right back at it and go again.”
So what challenge does San Francisco – which beat Seattle 27-7 in Week 2 – present.
“It ain’t gonna be easy. They played great yesterday. Played a great game,” Carroll said of the 49ers’ 35-7 win over the Buccaneers. “They moved the ball around and (rookie quarterback Brock Purdy) threw the ball well and they did a lot. They didn’t just run the football. Their numbers will show that they did late in the game (because) they got so far ahead. They just executed really well and their special players made the plays. It’s a big challenge. It’s a big freaking challenge. But let’s go Thursday night.”
Listen to the whole Pete Carroll Show at this link or in the player below.