Pete Carroll offers mystifying rationale for Seahawks defensive woes vs. Bills

Joe Fann
·3 min read

Pete Carroll offers mystifying rationale for Seahawks defensive woes vs. Bills originally appeared on NBC Sports Northwest

The Seahawks defense got gashed again. Four turnovers by the offense did that group no favors, of course, but Seattle doesn’t have many excuses for allowing 44 points and 420 total yards in Sunday’s loss to the Bills.

The 44-34 defeat marks the Seahawks second of the year as they now own a 6-2 record at the midway point of the 2020 season. Seattle has scored 34 points in each of the two losses, illustrating just how poor the defense has been.

“They made it look easy,” Pete Carroll said of the Bills offensive outburst.

He’s not wrong. Buffalo marched up and down the field against Seattle, particularly in the first half as the Bills scored 24 points over their first four drives (three touchdowns and one field goal).

Josh Allen completed 31-of-38 pass attempts in the game for 415 yards, three touchdowns, no picks and a 138.5 rating. Meanwhile, Zach Moss and Devin Singletary combined for just 11 rush attempts. Buffalo’s pass-first approach against Seattle’s lowly secondary wasn’t a surprise to anyone, except for Carroll apparently.

"These guys didn't even try to run the football today,” Carroll said. “We didn't expect that to happen. We didn't think they would totally abandon the running game. We had a real nice plan for how they were gonna run it. We have to be able to adapt better to make sure that we can turn it around faster."

That is a truly baffling explanation from Seattle’s head coach.  

The Seahawks pass defense is notoriously bad, having allowed an NFL record 2,511 passing yards through seven games. Conversely, Seattle possesses the league’s fifth-best run defense, allowing 3.9 yards per carry.

Buffalo’s strength is its passing game led by Allen, Stefon Diggs, John Brown and Cole Beasley. That passing attack ranks 10th in terms of total yards while the Bills running game ranks 19th in the same category.

We aren’t even talking about a strength-on-strength situation here. This was a clear matchup advantage for Bills offensive coordinator Brian Daboll to exploit, which he did terrifically. That’s why Carroll’s comments are so mystifying. It would have been negligent for Daboll to have emphasized the running game against Seattle, especially with the Seahawks best corner Shaquill Griffin (hamstring) not playing.

Allen’s top victim was Quinton Dunbar, who provided little resistance in coverage on Sunday. It became evident that Dunbar wasn’t healthy as the game wore on.

“He had a tough day,” Carroll said. “He was playing on a sore knee. Eventually we had to take him out of the game. He tried to suck it up and keep going, but we had to get him out.”

Carroll refuted the notion that Dunbar should have been pulled in favor of Linden Stephens sooner, which was another head-scratching response given how aggressively the Bills went after Dunbar all game.

“We needed to help him more,” Carroll said. “We hung some guys out with the things that we did, and it didn’t work out for us.”

To make matters worse, Seattle’s defense suffered a trio of ankle injuries for K.J. Wright, Bryan Mone and D.J. Reed.

The lone silver lining, albeit a notable one, was that the Seahawks managed to post seven sacks. Jamal Adams, Carlos Dunlap and Jarran Reed all had fantastic games from a pass rush standpoint. But that production doesn’t mean a whole lot given the Bills lit up the scoreboard 44 points.

“We’re gonna get better, and we’re gonna do better,” Carroll said confidently.

He may be right, but Seattle’s defensive coaching staff needs to do some serious soul-searching this week. Constructing a game plan with the understanding that opponents will attack the Seahawks league-worst pass defense would be a strong place to start.

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