So how does Seattle stop the bleeding in the defensive secondary? Well, it’s more complicated than just replacing cornerback Kelly Jennings and hoping the problem is solved. Seattle’s breakdown in the secondary is tied more closely to the entire defensive unit playing poorly in passing situations.
Take a look at the stats and Seattle’s defensive struggles are obvious. Seattle is second in the league in giving up playsof 20 yard or more from scrimmage with 24, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. The chart below shows the top five teams in that category.
And the Seahawks are tied for second in the league in giving up passing plays of 20 yards or more form scrimmage with 17, according to NFL.com. New Orleans leads the league with 19.
Seattle already has given up seven passing touchdowns, with just one interception this season. In 2007, the Seahawks gave up a league-low 15 passing touchdowns, and tied for fourth in the league in interceptions with 20.
Defensive penalties also have plagued Seattle. The Seahawks have 13 penalties involving defensive holding, pass interference, illegal contact or personal fouls in pass coverage.
Without getting into the intricacies of Seattle’s complex defensive schemes for down and distance, I think the Seahawks problems break down to five different areas.
Pass rush – Seattle is not doing a good job of putting pressure on the quarterback. In the last four games, quarterbacks playing against Seattle have completed 65 percent of their passes. That means the quarterback feels comfortable in the pocket and can be more accurate with his throws.
Linebacker depth in drops – Particularly against San Francisco, the linebacker appeared to not get enough depth in their zone drops, therefore not providing enough help for the defensive backs in underneath coverage.
More bumping at the line – Receivers are getting into their routes too clean and not being disrupted at the line of scrimmage.
Do your job – Safeties Deon Grant and Brian Russell have commented this week on guys not free lancing and sticking to their roles. For example, Seattle’s defensive backs got caught a couple times biting on play-action fakes because of New York’s ability to run the ball last week, leading to New York receivers getting behind them.
Go get the ball – Seattle’s secondary is not doing a good job of battling for the ball once it’s up in the air.
"That’s been the emphasis from Day one of training camp," cornerback Marcus Trufant said. "Being in a situation where it’s a 50-50 ball and the wide receiver can get it or the DB can get it, we’ve got to win those battles. We’ve just got to find a way to make that play. We’ve been working extra hard in practice on that in our drills just to try and make that play."
Mora believes the problems are fixable, and ultimately the first few weeks of the season are the exception for this defense, not the rule. Mora also believes his defense will play better the rest of the way.
"We haven’t changed anything in two years, really," he said. "We play a lot of bump-and-run, a lot of single safety middle, and we’re just going to try and do it better."
Listen to Mora talk about the secondary play here.