Pete Carroll has a history of fixing his defense on the fly, and he is going to have to do it again — NOW.
In his day-after assessment of his defense’s total meltdown against the Rams, Carroll bemoaned his defense repeating the same mistakes. Carroll is ticked off, which means more changes should be coming to Seattle’s defense during this mini-bye.
“We have to clean stuff up across the board so the same issues don’t show up,” Carroll said on 710 ESPN. “When we’re really not doing well is when you see the same problem continue to show, and that’s something that pisses me off.”
He’s talking about Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp exploiting Seattle’s discombobulated zone coverages with 19 catches for 242 yards and combining for six plays of at least 20 yards – five of them coming in the second half. It was similar to what the Vikings did in Week 3.
“A few of them were the same kind of plays that were in behind us in our zone stuff and they were able to make explosive plays on us,” Carroll said. “Really it’s a short defense where you try to make them get the ball underneath us and we didn’t do it properly. We broke down. And it happened a couple weeks ago, too, and that’s alarming to me that we didn’t fix an issue that we saw back in Minnesota that was very similar.”
The pass rush is not helping at all. Matthew Stafford had all day to survey the field and let his receivers find the soft spots in the zone. The Seahawks tallied just one sack and three QB hits. It doesn’t help that their top outside rushers are all playing through injuries.
“If (quarterbacks) have the chance to hold the ball to see the initial drop of the linebacker and see the inside pass defender bite up, then they can throw the ball behind them,” Carroll said. “And that happened about four different times in the game and all in different varieties. It wasn’t the same route; it was different stuff. And it just caught us — and we were in different coverages, too.”
Sidney Jones seems lost in the defense, which explains why Carroll waited so long to put him in. He still isn’t ready. He was caught flat-footed by DeSean Jackson on a 68-yard pass play and then let Woods catch a 24-yard pass on the clinching TD drive.
Jamal Adams was terrible in coverage, Quandre Diggs was never close to any of these plays (playing too deep) and the linebackers were asked to cover the wide receivers way too often (Jordyn Brooks got burned by Kupp for a 33-yard gain on the clinching TD drive).
“We have to execute,” Carroll said. “These are not principles that aren’t fundamental or basic to us. We’re getting antsy in our setups and our coverage, and we’re biting on stuff we don’t need to bite on, and we need to hold off and be more patient and let the ball get thrown underneath us.”
“We’ve been doing this for years. … We’ve been working on it, too, and that’s the part that’s disturbing to me. It’s a focus area for us and we didn’t get it done. (This) is a work in progress, and we’ve got to get better. Unfortunately, it kills us because we had to give up a game to get to this next step.”
As for Adams’ play, Carroll didn’t see what the rest of us did. Or else he is just making excuses, protecting his player while trying to figure out how to use him better. (He has been used far too much as a deep safety, where he cannot make as many plays.)
“I think he’s doing really well,” Carroll said. “I think he’s an effective, impacting football player. He is put right in the middle of the fire on so many different concepts. He’s right where the ball is going, so he’s got a lot of opportunities — and you aren’t going to win all of those.
“He’s been in a bunch of calls, and he’s in the (pass rush) game plan. We’re not trying to keep him out of it. Sometimes the formations and the spread offenses that we’re seeing a lot of in the first month of the season, it limits the opportunities. The calls don’t fit sometimes because of the formations. We can’t just rush him all the time, because he has other duties to take care of. I would love to see him have more impact on the game by pressuring, too. That’s why we build this stuff in every week.”
Maybe they are asking too much of him and need to more narrowly define his role.
Also, why is Diggs playing so deep he is taking himself out of so many plays? He had a pick in this game, giving him one in consecutive weeks, but he was nowhere near the receiver on any of the long passes. Yes, he is supposed to be the deep safety. But so deep that he is nowhere near the play ever?
And what about Ryan Neal, who got just six plays after factoring huge in stopping the 49ers last weekend?
“He was in the plan exactly the same as he was last week,” Carroll said. “The situations didn’t arise. We played him on third down last week; that’s where he made all his plays. Because of their tempo and all of that, there was some question about getting guys off the field. We had to make sure we didn’t get caught, so we weren’t as freely substituting. That’s what happened. They have a tempo that restricts substitutions somewhat. We won all those (third) downs, anyway.”
But Neal and Marquise Blair, who played 18 snaps, should see more playing time. Blair stuck with the speedy Jackson very well on one play and also had a tackle for loss and pass defensed – two of the 10 such plays Seattle had in the game. If Carroll is going to stick with his favored Cover-3, at least put playmakers back there – Neal or Blair over Jones.
The Hawks have to start getting more takeaways.
More than anything, Carroll needs to find the best mix of chemistry in the back end, so the communication problems end and the players start meshing. They can’t keep making the same mistakes.
“I’m really disappointed,” he said. “You have to fix your problems from week to week because teams see everything and they study every play, and they’re going to try you and see if that issue is still available for them.
“Ultimately, I have to do a better job. … I have to make sure we make these corrections come to life, because we are addressing them.”