We wrote after the loss in Dallas that there was some questioning by the players’ of the decision to not pressure Tony Romo earlier.
Today, we spoke with safety Deon Grant, who made the majority of the statements, and defensive coordinator John Marshall, presumably at whom the statements were aimed, and not surprisingly Grant has backed off the finger-pointing.
Grant said his comments were taken out of context. “When I say pressure, pressure means a guy in the quarterback’s face,” Grant said. “I don’t talk about blitzes. Blitzes never came out of my mouth. It is pressure. Even if you are in the game on the front line, you have to make sure all the lanes is covered when that quarterback steps up in the hole you have a tackle or a D end looping around in the face. That is the key, you have to keep a guy in the quarterbacks’ face. That is pressure. Pressure is not always blitzing. That’s what some people think. Pittsburgh, that is the real definition of pressure. They got four turnovers and they barely blitzed. But they got pressure on the quarterback with them four guys they had and three guys they had rushing.”
When asked if he was concerned about how his comments were portrayed in the media, he said yes: “I never mentioned John Marshall’s name. Then I read the paper and see — well, I didn’t read the paper but I read the quotes — and saw that that was what I was meaning about John. I didn’t have a problem with what he called. Me and John have a great relationship. I tell the guys all the time: Forget what the call is, we have to go out here and execute individual plays.”
Here is the uncomfortable part. I fully understand that emotions are a bit raw after games and frustration levels are riding high, particularly after a 34-9 loss on national television. But I will say this for the reporters in that locker room after the game who reported — consistently — what was said: It was not taken out of context.
Here is the story I wrote, which includes almost all the Deon Grant quotes from the locker room:
IRVING, Texas – When the Seattle Seahawks’ season began, their defense, returning all 11 starters from a year ago, was supposed to be the strength of what is Mike Holmgren’s final season.
Eleven games later, it has been shredded on a weekly basis by opponents who often seem to know what it is doing before the players do.
On Thursday, after the Seahawks succumbed to the Dallas Cowboys, 34-9, several players said their defense has not been given the chance to be successful because it has been used improperly.
"I think with our defense this year, we knew what we had coming back and we didn’t know how to play to our strengths," safety Deon Grant said. "And we are still figuring out what is our strength. Some of the players know what the strength is. Some of the coaches know what the strength is. We just haven’t put it together."
When he was asked what the defense’s strength is, Grant declined to be specific.
"I can’t say it," Grant said, "but of course I know."
Linebacker Julian Peterson said the team’s strength is using its speed to pressure the quarterback on a consistent basis, something that has been only sporadic this season.
"Bringing pressure, bringing heat," Peterson said. "Pressure busts pipes; that is anybody. I don’t care what kind of quarterback you got back there. If you bring heat, obviously it is a 50-50 chance that they pick it up and they got one-on-ones and they got the opportunity to make the big play. But if they don’t pick it up, it is big plays for us. So it is hit or miss. That is one of my strengths. We got good team speed, so we can do that."
Neither Grant nor Peterson called out defensive coordinator John Marshall by name, but they were obviously frustrated that Marshall had them playing zone against Dallas early in the game, which allowed Tony Romo to complete 11 of his first 13 passes.
Romo moved the Cowboys up and down the field with ease, staking Dallas to a 21-3 lead. Only after Romo threw his second touchdown of the game to Jason Witten in the second quarter did the Seahawks blitz Romo and disrupt Dallas’ offense.
It was curious that the Seahawks came out in a zone defense because they did the same thing against Arizona two weeks ago and Cardinals quarterback Kurt Warner had similar success. The Seahawks went to man-to-man coverage in the second half of that game, pressured Warner and had a chance to win.
"The times that (Romo) was sliding in and getting an open throw, we were in a zone," Grant said. "When we had him man to man, we were in a lockdown. But when we were in a zone, he was finding openings and making it happen."
Asked whether they should have gone to a different defensive scheme earlier than they did, Grant said, "That does not need to be said, but you know what we are talking about."
Last week, Seahawks coach Mike Holmgren said he did not want to comment on the team’s future personnel moves. But on Thursday, after watching the defense surrender 447 yards, he changed that stance.
"It’s a little puzzling," Holmgren said. "We haven’t generated turnovers and we haven’t seemed to get the pass rush going like we have in the past. I think we have to take a hard look at that side of the ball. And maybe changes are necessary next year."
Grant said he did not think Holmgren was making a fair statement because he felt they haven’t been given a fair chance at showing what they can do.
"I will let them upstairs handle that ball," Grant said. "But I know if we play to our strength we will kill any offense out there."