Shield your eyes, Seattle Seahawks fans. It had been such a tremendous season … up until Week 9. Coming into a game against the Buffalo Bills, I think everyone was ready for some kind of shootout between Josh Allen and Russell Wilson. I myself was ready for a high scoring game where Wilson ultimately edged out Allen and company and traveled to Los Angeles for a divisional matchup.
But oh how wrong I was. There are a lot of things to complain about after the loss on Sunday. It could be that Wilson turned the ball over four times and his critics are now calling off the MVP candidacy, or the fact that Josh Allen was made to look like Joe Namath, but really it should just be pointed at how bad the defense played yet again. Sure, they are the worst defense in the league and statistically one of the worst defenses in National Football League history, but to anticipate this unit sinking the ship this quickly in a game and expecting their offense to bail them out yet again is just a fairytale pipe dream.
Before Seattle could blink this game was 17-0. In the first four defensive drives for the Seahawks, their EPA was 18.72 in the wrong direction. EPA measures expected points added by a unit, so take that as you may but there is no way that the Hawks could overcome a deficit of this margin when in the first four drives their defense began digging a hole that could have reached another country.
The first drive needed just three plays for the Bills to score, it was over in 1:25. In the second drive, they changed things up, 10 plays, 72 yards, 5:11. The Bills held possession for more than four minutes more than the Seahawks in the game, they didn’t turn the ball over once and they picked up five more first downs. The Bills defense isn’t top-notch but the Hawks defense is just so bad that it made this offense look like a Pro Bowl squad. This was the most points that were ever allowed in the Pete Carroll-Seattle era.
“We’ve got to make sure that we can adjust,” Carroll said. “These guys didn’t even try to run the football … We didn’t expect that to happen. We didn’t think they would just totally abandon their running game, and we had a real nice plan if they were going to run it. So we have to be able to adapt better to make sure that we can turn it around faster.
There was some good news, Jamal Adams finally suited back up for the first time since Sep. 17. Here’s the bad news….it was clear he was having some critical coverage issues, especially after getting burned by Stefon Diggs for a touchdown in the third quarter. Oh, it gets worse. As he came to the sideline he got into a spat with Carroll and it went all over Twitter.
“I’m not happy with my performance,” Adams said. “Obviously I … had a lot of rust for myself, just [based on]my standard. And obviously just not getting a win, that definitely hurts and it stings, but the good thing about this game is that you can move on and you have another opportunity the following week, so that’s my focus.”
So here is the question moving forward: can the Seahawks figure their defensive s*** out or is this glorious offensive season going to go to waste?
It’s a question that can be immediately answered on Sunday. The Seahawks have a massive game coming up against the Los Angeles Rams and the result will be way more impactful than I would have thought it was just a few weeks ago. The Rams are having their own struggles but they have a few things going for them.
First thing first, they are coming in well-rested. After an unusual loss to the Miami Dolphins two weeks ago, Los Angeles got a bye week to get rested and get healthy. Two, they are getting a Seahawks team that is coming off a bad loss and is now traveling for the second straight week. And I don’t mean traveling from Las Vegas to LA, they are traveling from Seattle, to Buffalo, to Los Angeles. That is two different time zones and over 11 hours and 23 minutes cramped up on a plane. That’s not comfortable when you are 6 foot something and weigh well over 250 pounds.
The Rams offense has been hit or miss this season but Jared Goff seems to like playing against the Hawks. Let’s break down a couple of things that will help the Seahawks defense moving forward.
Carlos Dunlap will play in his second game as a Seahawk. This seems obvious but it’s something that will already be a massive improvement. It’s difficult to expect a guy to know a playbook inside and out in his first game, or even his second game, but he should feel more comfortable. Plus, the more time he spends around this young defensive line can really only help these guys out in the long run. The Hawks rank 23rd in sack percentage and this is where Dunlap can make a big difference, he had nine just a season ago.
Next up, Shaquil Griffin. He and his brother are fan favorites in Seattle and this guy was in Orlando playing in the Pro Bowl in 2019, but it is time for a demotion. This season, Griffin is allowing a passer rating above 113 when he is targeted in coverage. He has allowed five touchdowns in coverage, second-most in the NFL, and you can guarantee that Goff will abuse that matchup. I think it’s time to switch it up with Griffin and find a different personnel package.
Finally, there was a glimmer of positivity in the Buffalo game. It was that Bobby Wagner, K.J. Wright and Adams can get to the quarterback. Seattle had seven sacks against the Bills, and Goff struggled against pressure against Miami. That tells you the gameplan needs to be centered around these guys getting to the quarterback.
Do I think that Seattle can magically fix their defense in one game? Hell no. But I think that they can learn lessons from each loss and fix their defense game by game. It’s not unheard of that a bottom defense in the first half becomes a top defense in the second half.
The Hawks seem to be getting disrespected by being 2.5 point underdogs in this game against the Rams. I don’t see Wilson playing this poorly in a second straight game and I would hope that a coach who was just given an extension through 2025 will figure it out in a game that could mean winning the division.