Clayton: Will Seahawks address issues on defense with changes in 2020?

Jan 14, 2020, 12:10 PM

Seahawks coach Pete Carroll...

Will Seahawks coach Pete Carrol employ less base defense in 2020? (AP)


It’s amazing how quickly seasons end.

Pete Carroll’s final takeaways for Seahawks’ 2019 rookie class

The Seahawks lost Sunday evening to the Green Bay Packers, and by 3:30 p.m. Monday players had finished their exit interviews with the local press and Pete Carroll had his season-ending press conference. Now, everything goes into offseason mode where players are off and not available to the team until the beginning of the offseason program in the third week of April.

Despite the disappointment of the loss, the Seahawks advanced as a playoff team. Last year they probably stuck with the run too long, losing to a good Cowboys team in Dallas in a Wild Card game. This year, the Seahawks’ success in winning road games during the regular season (7-1) put them in a position to clinch bye weeks if they could win their final two home games. In fact, could have clinched home-field advantage for the playoffs if they beat the Arizona Cardinals and the San Francisco 49ers, but they lost both games and settled for the NFC’s No. 5 seed, reaching the divisional round of the playoffs after beating the Philadelphia Eagles.

Let’s look back at what went right and what went wrong.

• The simple part of the equation was the Seahawks ran out of gas because of injuries. They were down to their fourth tight end, fourth halfback, third-string guard and backup center. The Seahawks are a running football team but they lost the ability to run the football after season-ending injuries took away Rashaad Penny, Chris Carson and C.J. Prosise.

What was amazing was how Russell Wilson kept the play-action passing game going without the threat of the run. He ran the ball more in the final three games and did an exceptional job, almost pulling off comebacks against the 49ers and the Green Bay Packers.

Wilson was doing miracles with so many injury concerns around him. Sure, the Seahawks lost three games in the regular season down the stretch and the divisional playoff game in Green Bay, but it was miraculous that the Seahawks won 12 games with all of those injuries.

• Where fans are rightfully concerned after the playoffs is with second-year cornerback Tre Flowers, but don’t give up on him. Remember a year ago when everyone wanted to replaced Shaquill Griffin? Griffin was hard on himself during the offseason and came back to play well enough to be a Pro Bowl alternate in 2019.

Flowers had too many penalties and was beaten too many times this year, but he has the ability to do the same as Griffin next year. Pete Carroll may bring in someone to challenge Flowers, but in the end he’s still good enough to be the starter next year.

• Carroll said they might make some changes in the defensive scheme and go back to some original things from the past. Thanks to Quandre Diggs at free safety, they can go back to more Cover 1 or Cover 3 schemes. Diggs is smart like Earl Thomas and makes plays. Bradley McDougald plays better at strong safety when Diggs is on the field. It’s a great one-two punch.

What will be interesting to see is if Seattle changes back into a nickel defense team in passing situations. The Seahawks remained a three-linebacker base defense team all the way through the season, even after they lost Mychal Kendricks to an ACL injury in Week 17. They might use more nickel and less three linebackers even though Cody Barton is a good one at strong side linebacker.

Overall, the defense gave up too many explosive plays and that needs to be fixed.

• Keep an eye on what Carroll does with his other safeties. Marquise Blair has plenty of potential but he probably will have to sit behind Diggs and McDougald. His starting time might be set more for 2021 instead of 2020. The other question is what you do with Lano Hill and Tedric Thompson knowing they are that far away from significant playing time.

Follow 710 ESPN Seattle’s John Clayton on Twitter.

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Clayton: Will Seahawks address issues on defense with changes in 2020?