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Morning links: Hawks defense struggling on the road

Post by Eric Williams on Nov. 28, 2012 at 7:43 am with 40 Comments »
November 28, 2012 7:43 am
Miami’s Charles Clay pulls in the final touchdown pass over Leroy Hill in the fourth quarter Sunday as the Dolphins rallied beat the Seahawks, 24-21. (C.W. GRIFFIN/MIAMI HERALD)

In my story today, the Seattle Seahawks defense hasn’t exactly covered itself in glory on the road late in games this season.

Three times this year, at Arizona, Detroit and Miami, Seattle had a lead in the fourth quarter, but the team’s strength – its defense – failed to make it hold up.

While I agree that it’s reasonable to expect the offense to come to the rescue at times, and Seattle failed to move the ball into field goal position late in the game against the Dolphins, the identity of this team is the defense. And if the Seahawks are going to make the playoffs and win games in the postseason, the defense has to get back to the way it was playing earlier this season.

Particularly disturbing has been the fact that we have not seen many, game-changing plays in the fourth quarter by Seattle’s best players defensively.

I talked with 710 ESPN Seattle’s Bob Skelton and Dave Grosby about the Brandon Browner and Richard Sherman situation, which you can listen to here.

Khaled Elsayed of Pro Football Focus takes a closer look at the Seahawks-Dolphins game. Elsayed: “This wasn’t a game where the Seahawks safety duo of Kam Chancellor (-4.2) and Earl Thomas (-2.4) covered themselves in glory. Thomas pretty much put points on the board for Miami with that roughing the passer penalty, while Chancellor missed a terrible three tackles. You get a mixed bag of playmaking and mistakes with this duo, but against Miami they were definitely more of the latter.”

Brady Henderson of ESPN 710 Seattle takes a closer look at Russell Wilson’s impressive performance against Miami.

Clare Farnsworth of Seahawks.com takes a look back at Leon Washington eighth career kickoff return for a touchdown against Miami.

ESPN’s NFL experts drop the Seahawks to No. 13 in their power rankings.

The Seahawks also drop to No. 13 in the AP Pro 32. Alex Marvez of Fox Sports: “The Seahawks can’t be taken for real until learning to win consistently on the road. A 24-21 loss at Miami was a major setback.”

Ben Volin of the Palm Beach Post provides a nice breakdown of some of the impact plays in the Seahawks-Dolphins game. It’s worth looking at if you’re wondering how Devone Bess was so wide open down the middle of the field.

Check out the latest Real Mike Rob Report in the video below.

ESPN Chicago’s Michael Wright reports that the Bears signed veteran offensive lineman Andre Gurode to bolster the team’s paper-thin depth along the offensive line. Chicago also worked out former Seattle linebacker Aaron Curry, who was cut by Oakland last week.

Steve Rosenbloom of the Chicago Tribune expects the Bears to run the ball against a Seattle defense that has given up 775 rushing yards in the last five games.

Jorge Castillo of the New Jersey Star-Ledger offers a pretty in-depth story on the reasons for the increased use of Adderall in the NFL.

David Leon Moore and Jim Corbett of USA Today also delve into the Adderall issue in more detail.

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Morning links
Leave a comment Comments → 40
  1. sluggo42 says:

    The home crowd noise is apparently overpowering.
    I’m still stunned by the loss.

    I just don’t understand the play calling, nor the defensive lack of a plan. I feel sorry for the players because they have not been given assignments that work. Being told to run into a brick wall again and again is lame. Then rush 3 and try to cover for 5 seconds in a zone prevent defense…

  2. gonefishin69690 says:

    Agree sluggo. See too much of this “prevent defense” on the road. It’s as the coaches are afraid to play aggressive on the road. I don’t know the numbers, but how many of our sacks came at home vs how many on the road? I’d also like to see the number of 3rd down stops at home vs away.

  3. RDPoulsbo says:

    It’s a 2 way street when it comes to road games. As much as teams have to travel long distances to Seattle to play, the Hawks have to do the same with long distances with almost every away game. I think that does play into why they always have road woes. It’s not just this year, but just about every team in the history of the franchise.

    I think another big reason the defense has been dropping off of late (it’s not just away), is that they’ve pretty much been doing what they do the whole season. There’s game film for opposing teams to study and find ways to exploit it. The defensive coaching staff need to get together and make adjustments to plug the holes. The offense has been different because it’s been ever evolving over the course of the season, so it remains a moving target in spite of any film teams have on them.

  4. CDHawkFan says:

    Will our DL and LB’s be able to stop the run against a banged up Bear’s OL?

    And will Curry hop over our long snapper and block a last second field goal attempt to win the game…and give all the credit to God?

  5. Ewalters7354 says:

    Agreed.But in Kam’s case, he absolutely has to make those tackles.He’s more than capable.

    Bradley has been the same since he got here.And though Pete is more of a man to man, blitz type guy(I know you have to switch it up), Bradley still is rooted and grounded in zone schemes from his days under Monte Kiffen.He even said when Moron hired him that he is more of a cover key type guy who wants his guys eyes on the QB so they can play fast.But Pete being so willing to let his guys operate at their own will,is exploding in his face.So I don’t see anything changing because it hasn’t changed in 4 years in regards to Bradley.Look for them to blame it on execution.

  6. Ewalters7354 says:

    That was in reference to Slug and 69690 comments btw.

  7. RDPoulsbo says:

    Actually, if you take a look at the Palm Beach Post link, it was anything but prevent defense. It’s perhaps a bit too much press coverage, which is leaving open passes behind the LBs with Thomas 20-25 yards off the LoS.

    It’s a lot of Cover-1, but Miami was able exploit it because the press coverage hasn’t been knocking WRs off their routes enough and the pass rush isn’t getting home. They put significant resources into Clemons, Irvin and Jones to bring the pressure so they don’t have to blitz, but it’s not working in recent weeks.

    A couple things they could do is move Thomas up a little so he’s more involved in active coverage. It does open up the big play some, but it would give Thomas more chances to make a play. It’ll require that he react to the play quicker though. Up front, they could add more twists and stunts to the pass rush to confuse the o-line, knowing they could get caught on the run and the LBs have to do a better job cleaning up.

    I’m not necessarily for or against more blitzing, but remember that they put the big bucks into the D-line so they wouldn’t have to remove pass defenders to bring pressure.

  8. PugetHawk says:

    I think Kam may be nicked up a little otherwise I cannot understand his drop in performance.

    Sluggo, you are totally right. This vanilla defense on the road is ridiculous. No stunts when they rush four either. I can’t remember the last team that won a Super Bowl with play calling that was so timid. These end of game mistakes were supposed to be fixed after Arizona and Detroit. I think this team has 8 wins with a different coaching staff and/or philosophy!

  9. mojjonation says:

    Chicago has Urlacher and Briggs, O-line woes, one big play receiver, a nicked up top shelf running back, and they bring in Curry. This has got to be one of the biggest WTF moments in NFL history.

    The defense hasn’t just struggled on the road. New England at home threw for nearly 400 yards. AP chewed us up to the tune of nearly 200 yards. While Seattle has given up 775 yards rushing in the last five games, San Fran and Minnesota, which have Frank Gore and AP, accounted for nearly half of it. So it’s a little misleading. The continued lack of pressure from the front 7, and the continued horrid coverage from LB’s and nickel guys, are what bothers me the most. Ever since the NE game, underneath and intermediate routes continue to be the nemesis for this defense. Sherman and Browner remove two guys from the opposing team, and Seattle gets mangled by not necessarily no names, but guys who aren’t really known outside of their own town.

    When you are on your opponents 40, and you need maybe 7-10 yards for a field goal attempt, and you have 2 minutes left in the game, why do you call a flair to the short side of the field? Then, why does your QB complete that pass when it is blatantly obvious that the 6 guys chasing you down and boxing you in are going to kill that play? Throw it out of bounds, throw it at Lynchs feet. I know an incomplete pass stops the clock, but at least you don’t lose 6 yards and take yourself out of any chance to attempt a field goal.

    It’s been said before, and it will be said again, PC gets outcoached. Bevell and Bradley panic when it’s crunch time. Prevent defense does nothing other than prevent you from winning.

  10. PugetHawk says:

    I think its pretty obvious Trufant isn’t good enough to play bump coverage on slot receivers so maybe he should play off while the outside guys stay in press.
    These adjustments should be somewhat easy. I have seen a young kid playing Madden make these adjustments so its not impossible :-)

  11. The 3 games the team lost in the final 8 games last year were all lost watching a mediocre to bad QB (Grossman, Smith, Skelton) drive the other team down the field for the game winning score. In the case of the first 2, they did it the drive immediately after the Seahawks scored to take a lead.

    So its been a problem for a while, a problem the team evidently has no solution for.

    Carroll/Bevell is going to have to start calling the offense with the assumption that they will need 27+ points a game to win on the road and stop assuming the defense can make any type of timely stop. If the offense/Wilson makes more mistakes, than so be it. It’s an Offense driven league – only a couple of teams can win with an elite defense.

  12. Singularitarian says:
  13. Singularitarian says:

    I have to agree with everybody about the play calling. It also appears they do not change their game plan depending on the team. I mean, running Lynch 17 times when he is continually getting stone walled and your qb is throwing lights out. That was the first game where I have ever truely contemplated whether Carroll is the answer at head coach

  14. Singularitarian says:

    quick note on the Sherman adderall thing, I take adderrall and with the presure of the game sherman shouldn’t have a problem getting his mind stimulated. Adderall may help get him in the zone a little bit but I’d bet he was using it more for watching game film. What really has changed about Sherman is how he is a student of the game, and I recall reading that he spends countless hours in the film room studying recievers habbits and routes in certain positions. Adderall is known in college as a study drug, and I’d bet the hours he spent sudying were what the addderall was used for. You can literally stay focused on studying for hours on end, even when you can’t get yourself to study 15 minutes regularly. Hopefully he finds another way to keep himself focused in the film room or you will see his play regress majorly.

  15. Dukeshire says:

    That’s my biggest criticism of Chancellor, that’s he’s not a sure tackler. Most of the coverage issues this team suffers from, IMO, come from scheme. When Bradley puts them in that 2 deep zone it put the secondary and LBs in positions to fail. This isn’t a nimble bunch that play well in space. This is a physical group that is at it’s best when they play man. Late is games when they are protecting leads and they go zone, we see the results.

    I’m very much looking forward to Eric’s piece that details the offense’s struggles on the road, especially their inability to move the ball on the ground. And how they themselves pissed away game winning drives, in each of the three games he listed above.

  16. Singularitarian says:

    Duke. I recall a game winning touchdown by Wilson against the Lions, only to have the defense crumble

  17. Dukeshire says:

    And look, I’m not defending the defense per se. The offense gets you a lead late, regardless how inept they’ve been or how well they’ve played, you have to make it hold up. But what seems to be lost here is that there has been an inordinate amount of pressure on the defense all season; it shouldn’t come as a surprise that they’ve coughed a couple up. They are also a young group at critical positions and offenses are able to exploit that. And in today’s NFL, 14 offensive points isn’t going to win you many games on the road, no matter how great the defense is.

  18. Singularitarian says:

    I agree. I think it’s a lack in Carroll’s testicle sack. He seems so ho-hum about putting points on the board early on. with Seattle’s defense and an aggressive offense, especially early (and consistantly) they could really make a splash. Seems perfectly simple against a team like The Dolphins to me. Aim for the juggular and start throwing daggers around the field, especially when your qb is not coming anywhere near being a turnover machine. Play like you are aiming to win. Even against New England, our first drive we drove the ball down the field, then went run, run, run, FG once we got in the red zone. It was as if Carroll thought New England wouldn’t move the ball

  19. Singularitarian says:

    I still haven’t seen one game where Carroll decided he wanted to cut the offense loose. And they won’t consistantly win football games until he decides to let the team win on both sides of the ball

  20. PugetHawk says:

    While they are young at critical positions, the two of the scoring drives were executed because of the two veterans on the defense. Trufant getting burned by Bess and Hill losing the fullback Clay on a wheel route and not being fast enough to catch him.

    Bottom line is last year coming down the stretch we all had high hopes for this season because of the steps in the right direction. This year started with that continuation but because they are young at quarterback I was patient. However, I am now worried that the poor execution that Pete said he was going to fix after Arizona and Detroit is not going to be fixed anytime soon.

  21. mojjonation says:

    When Seattle went to the Superbowl in 2005, the defense wasn’t that great. It was good, but not great. What made them better was that the offense could bury any team at any time in a 14 point hole before the first quarter was up. That then allowed the defense to pin its ears back and get after the opposing QB. PC seems content to just let our O score when they can and hope the defense holds up. Then when we have to score again, sometimes we do. If PC, Bevell, or Cable, (well actually PC since he’s he head coach) were willing to just throw it all over the yard in the first quarter or half, and try to force the opponent to play catch up, I think we would be far more successful than what we have shown to be.

  22. NYHawkFan says:

    I’ve been reading everything on the blog, but haven’t been posting much recently. Sorry about the off topic, but here’s a great read in The New York Times about what it’s like for an undrafted free agent to try and make the Atlanta Falcon’s team. His name is Pat Schiller, plays middle linebacker. In the article, he gives a few props to Lofa Tatupu for encouraging him and helping him out.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2012/11/25/magazine/the-hard-life-of-an-nfl-long-shot.html?ref=magazine

  23. I hate beating a dead horse, but Seattle has so many problems, there is only one answer; its the coaching, stupid. Sloppy, undisciplined play, poor gameplanning, slow to adjust, and atrocious gameplanning will turn any group of talented players into garbage.

    Chancellor is a liability in coverage, he’s just too slow to cover in man, and is also getting exposed in zone. He was the WORST tackling safety in the NFL last year, with the most missed tackles–he made the Pro Bowl on his big hits. This year, after playing more disciplined early and getting fewer big hits, he seems to have reverted and is missing tackles and still no big hits….perhaps he’s playing with injuries we dont know about, but the fact remains he isnt playing well.

    I cant see blaming Thomas for the roughing call. There is nothing he could have done, and that was a terrible call. Period. I’d say the same thing if it was Polamalu instead of Thomas…

    The offensive line is not good. Still. Hell, they are worse now than they were over the last 8 games last year, at least to my eyes. But the offense can move the ball when Bevell and company remove the training wheels. They need to get the ball downfield, it seems they either wanna throw passes under 5 yards from scrimmage, or 15+ yards downfield–what happened to the WCO slants, posts, skinny posts, curls, outs, etc…? What happened to crossing routes with Doug Baldwin?

    THis offense is simply waiting for the coaches to go for it, and let it all hang out. If the line isnt going to play consistently well, you wont be going anywhere by running a high school conservative offense. Might as well TRY to put some points on the board.

    So many problems on this team, but in my mind, they have a talented enough group of players to go to the playoffs. Its the coaching that really needs to improve, from the top down, from discipline and accountability to better gameplanning and more aggressive playcalling.

  24. yakimahawk says:

    When Seattle went to the Superbowl in 2005, the defense wasn’t that great. It was good, but not great. What made them better was that the offense could bury any team at any time in a 14 point hole before the first quarter was up. That then allowed the defense to pin its ears back and get after the opposing QB. PC seems content to just let our O score when they can and hope the defense holds up. Then when we have to score again, sometimes we do. If PC, Bevell, or Cable, (well actually PC since he’s he head coach) were willing to just throw it all over the yard in the first quarter or half, and try to force the opponent to play catch up, I think we would be far more successful than what we have shown to be.

    Agree…But I think it would be best still to have an offense that can bury opponents and a dominant defense. That is a guarantee so to speak of super bowl wins. Right now our team is very young and we are growing but I think we need to be more aggresive on offense it would take a load of our running game against opposing defenses stacking the box and a load of our young defense trying to be perfect which they are not!

  25. PugetHawk says:

    I think 2000 Ravens were the last team to win the Super Bowl playing the kind of conservative, vanilla gameplan that the Hawks do now.

  26. Ewalters7354 says:

    Puget, the 2005 Ravens had no choice bc Trent Dilfer may be the worst Qb to ever win a super bowl.He could throw the ball around to save his life.But they had Marvin Lewis as DC with Mike Singletary and Mike Nolan on that staff along with veteran players.But even still, Lewis put those guys in position to be successful.Oh how I would love to see that with these coaches.This just feels like a big nightmare.

  27. RDPoulsbo says:

    All of the “conservative” gameplanning is still predicated on a rookie QB. We can say unleash him all we want, but the reality is he still has a lot to learn to unleash the offense without turning the ball over all the time. The offense has been slowly evolving and will continue to do so throughout the season. They won’t be able to add the full complement of audibles and hot routes until the coming offseason. Complain all you want, but that’s the reality of the situation on offense.

    Defense is different. I think it’s pretty clear that opponents have seen enough game film to take advantage of their tendency as they’ve not made many adjustments over the course of the season. It’s catching up to them and now they need to make adjustments themselves to close off the wide open intermediate passes and to work on pass rushing schemes so they can do better in that area. It’s not some huge overhaul and it won’t take much if any kind of personnel changes. It’s just a matter of changing things up and hiding their coverages better.

  28. IdahoVandalHawk says:

    I can fix this! Remember this epic piece of awesomeness?

    http://jetphotos.net/viewphoto.php?id=5668014&nseq=8

    That’s the Hawks private jet that used to be owned by Paul Allen. First class comfort all the way baby. This beauty carried the Hawks to Super Bowl XL under the call sign “Seahawk 1 Heavy.”

    Allen sold the jet a year or two later.

    Pretty sure the Hawks charter a Hawaiian Airlines 767 these days. Can you imagine big Red Bryant stuffing himself into economy class for a cross country trip to Miami?

    Bring back the jet, problem solved!

  29. mojjonation says:

    RD…How do you kno what your rookie QB can do unless you let him try to do it. RW has that escapability that is necessary when your O line plays inconsistently. He has also shown that he doesn’t rattle easily. But since he is so fluent in PeteSpeak, he will never come out and say anything that may paint anyone in a negative light. I’d be willing to bet if someone could get him to talk, he’d come out and say that this boring ass game plan is killing him and he’d like to turn the scoreboard into a pinball machine. Then again, what QB wouldn’t?

  30. Ewalters7354 says:
  31. kinger12 says:

    More penalties than points in the first half is inexcusable. that’s crappy coaching there no other explanation.
    I do not agree with keeping the reins tight this is the NFL if your starting your starting with the whole playbook. Not some halfassed version. Holmy notoriously played a game plan based on his playbook. Bevell also wants something similar but the problem is you have the players you have – you have to play to their strengths and we are not.
    Not allowing Wilson, Rice and Tate to exploit what they can is just detrimental to them and to the team.
    Not kicking Breno to the bench or any of the other repeat offenders (penalty getters) emboldens retardation!

  32. RDPoulsbo says:

    mojjonation: There’s nothing hypothetical here. This isn’t backyard football with plays drawn up in the dirt. Besides, we’ve been seeing the training wheels come off as the season progressed. That progression is all by design not only as Wilson continues his development, but also to keep the entire offense on the same page with his development. And guess what, part of coaching is to understand the limits of your players even when they don’t know their limits themselves.

    It’s also the byproduct of a QB competition that took away valuable TC time to install an offense around him and for the entire team to get on the same page. There’s no question they’ve been installing a lot of completely new packages on the fly either. You no longer see the bread and butter of a WCO that Bevell was brought in to install and instead, you’re seeing sets of plays that borrow directly from other teams like the Redskins and Patriots.

  33. I’ve never seen so many flags thrown at so many corpses. Why do they do that? They are barely moving.

  34. PugetHawk says:

    Poulsbo, good points. I don’t think people would disagree that the offensive playcalling over the past 6 games has been dramatically improved while the defensive has been the opposite. It seems like the defensive playcalling got exposed and they haven’t made any adjustments. Pete always says he’s gonna watch the tape, so how is it so hard for him to not keep repeating the same mistakes? Its getting tough to watch.

  35. In terms of 2012 compensation, the money is tied up in the DL. Branch, Mebane, Bryant, Clemons, Jones and Irvin are making a combined #37m this year.

    What’s unfortunate is that these guys are the last ones to step up and make a play at the end of road games. With the run defense collapsing as well, it doesn’t look like money well spent.

  36. That should be $37m with a dollar sign and not a number sign.

  37. DanielleMND says:

    “And in today’s NFL, 14 offensive points isn’t going to win you many games on the road, no matter how great the defense is.”

    And if your offense only scores two TDs, some other unit has to step up and score. When that happens, and your defense gives up 17 points in the final 12 minutes of a game, the loss is still on the defense.

  38. MoSeahawk12 says:

    Funny how earlier in the year lots were saying if the offense could just score 14 points the defense will do the rest. Back then our D was holding teams under 17 points a game and our offense was scoring around 17-20. Now our offense is scoring over 24 points a game and the D is giving up an extra touchdown. The D held, Romo to 7 points, Rodgers to 12, Cam to 12, Brady 23, Smith to 13.

    The offense has scored at least 21 points in the past four games. Yet the D has given up 28, 20, 24.
    7 to Jets on fumble. They need to regroup fast our we’re toast.

  39. freedom_X says:

    Trent Dilfer actually beat Matt Hasselbeck out for the starting job after Hasselbeck flamed out in his 1st Seattle season. Dilfer looked great in preseason and was the undisputed starter.

    But Dilfer, as you recall, tore his Achilles tendon in that same preseason and Hasselbeck got the job back. And never let it go again (in stark contrast to a guy like Charlie Whitehurst.)

    Dilfer’s value had been raised enough as a passer that Holmgren was able to trade him to another team a few years later.

  40. mojjonation says:

    Crazy thing about the 2000 Ravens (and I heard it this morning) was that Tony Banks was the starting QB for that team and Dilfer actually took over because of Banks poor play. Then they go on to win the Superbowl. Go figure.

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