RENTON, Wash. – This is not the best week for Seattle to suddenly start questioning the problems with its run defense.
Not with the best ground team in the NFL coming to town Sunday.
Seattle’s ability to stop the run, a strength of the Seahawks for the first half of the season, has suddenly become a liability. Last week against New Orleans, poor tackling allowed Chris Ivory to run for 99 yards and helped dictate the tenor of the Saints’ 34-19 win.
Now, Seattle is faced with trying to correct its problems against Kansas City’s duo of Jamaal Charles and Thomas Jones.
“We saw on the tape there are some things we are starting to go away from as far as technique and fundamentals,” Seattle safety Lawyer Milloy said. “So now at this point of the season, the last six games, it’s more focusing on the things you do good, getting back to the basics, stuff like that. Playing well at home. It’s really simple. That game we didn’t do a lot of things right, especially on the defensive side of the ball. It’s easy to correct.”
Through their first five games, the Seahawks didn’t allow any opponent to run for 90 or more yards.
Then injuries began mounting, especially on the defensive line. Defensive tackle Brandon Mebane missed four games with a calf injury and while he was out, defensive end Red Bryant was lost for the season to a torn knee ligament. Defensive tackle Colin Cole also suffered a high-ankle sprain and isn’t expected back until the middle of December.
Seattle’s win over Arizona on Oct. 17 first exposed the issue when the Cardinals ran for 114 yards. Including that game, four of Seattle’s last five opponents have topped 100 yards, including 239 yards rushing allowed to Oakland and 197 to the New York Giants.
Now come the Chiefs, who lead the league averaging 164 yards per game on the ground.
Charles has an outside shot at a second-straight 1,000-yard season on Sunday, needing 152 to reach the benchmark. Jones has rushed for 644 yards.
“You’re dealing with a wide variety of skill players back there and they all have different attributes they bring,” Seattle defensive coordinator Gus Bradley said. “We just have to talk about really keep leverage on them, getting 11 hats on the ball when they do run and we’re going to have to swarm to them.”
Seattle came out of New Orleans frustrated because its inability to slow down Ivory made the day easier for Drew Brees, who proceeded to pick apart a leaky pass defense for 382 yards and four touchdowns. The worry isn’t much different this week with Kansas City quarterback Matt Cassel, the second-highest rated passer in the league the past five weeks.
Seattle brought back Amon Gordon, who was with the team in training camp, to add some depth along the defensive line and add a bit of competition up front. Carroll said he planned to continue with the same group, but perhaps change the rotations to try and awaken the run defense.
“We did a lot of things uncharacteristic,” Milloy said of the loss to New Orleans. “Are we going to fix it right away? I don’t know. But we need to.”