Kris Richard: Seahawks’ defense needs to regain its discipline

Dec 4, 2015, 5:54 PM | Updated: Dec 6, 2015, 8:28 am
Markus Wheaton’s 69-yard touchdown catch last week was indicative of the Seahawks’ defe...
Markus Wheaton's 69-yard touchdown catch last week was indicative of the Seahawks' defensive mistakes. (AP)
(AP)

RENTON – Don’t go rogue.

That was the way Kris Richard put it while talking about the defensive miscues the Seahawks must correct after allowing 30 points and a franchise record 480 passing yards in last week’s win over Pittsburgh. That included six passing plays that gained at least 20 yards.

The way Richard saw it, Seattle’s defenders too often abandoned their responsibilities and went off script, especially at times when Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger would extend the play like he’s known to do so well.

“Really, we can fix the issue if we just get back to being disciplined and to where we’re supposed to be on the football field, (then) we give ourselves a chance to be successful,” he said. “A lot of them came on scramble plays, on broken plays, to where we got ourselves out of position. We have to make sure we do a great job of staying on the reservation. We cannot go rogue. We have to be where we’re supposed to be on the football field.”

One play that was indicative of the mistakes Richard was referring to was the 69-yard touchdown pass from Roethlisberger to Markus Wheaton, which gave Pittsburgh a brief 27-26 lead in the fourth quarter. Wheaton beat nickelback Jeremy Lane off the snap then ran by free safety Earl Thomas, who was responsible for deep coverage on the left half of the field but got out of position then started running toward Roethlisberger as he broke the pocket.

Thomas admitted that he was overly aggressive on that play, something coach Pete Carroll had warned him against.

“He told me early on in the week, ‘Don’t do it.’ My instincts did it, and boom, it happened,” Thomas said.

Richard said the lapses in discipline are at times the result of a player trying to do too much. Avoiding that comes down to trust.

“Just trust that all you have to do is be where you’re supposed to be regardless of what you may see, think or feel,” he said. “Just trust your preparation, how we do things in practice.”

Minnesota’s offense will also test the discipline of Seattle’s defense on Sunday, although in a different way. Whereas Pittsburgh attempted 59 passes Sunday – the second-most of any Seahawks opponent in franchise history – Minnesota has thrown the ball less often this season than any team but Seattle. But they have the NFL’s top-ranked rushing offense and the league’s leading rusher, Adrian Peterson.

“If you pop out of your gap and get nosey and try to do someone else’s job, he will make you pay,” Richard said.

Middle linebacker Bobby Wagner knows from experience. He was a rookie in 2012 when Peterson ran for 144 yards in the first half of a Seahawks victory over Minnesota. Seahawks defenders said at the time that Peterson took advantage of their over-pursuit.

Wagner said that the same thing was evident while watching film of Minnesota’s win over Atlanta last week, when Peterson ran for 158 yards on 29 carries.

“You could tell that they weren’t really that patient,” Wagner said of Atlanta’s defenders. “He’s a really patient runner. He’s waiting for somebody to pop out of his gap, and as soon as they popped out of the gap he took off. You don’t want a guy like that taking off. I think in this game, we’ve got to be really, really disciplined, really focused on our gaps and making sure that when we hit him, he feels us.”

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Kris Richard: Seahawks’ defense needs to regain its discipline