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Analysis: Seahawks stumble into halfway mark with defensive concerns

UPDATED: Tue., Nov. 10, 2020

By Tim Booth Associated Press

RENTON, Wash. – The optimism that drives Russell Wilson will never outweigh the negatives, no matter how much is stacked against the Seattle Seahawks quarterback.

So it shouldn’t have been a surprise to hear anything but hope and confidence from Wilson after perhaps his worst game of the season and the worst performance by a Pete Carroll-coached defense in Seattle.

“I think we have a great chance to be successful. We’ve got a lot of great games coming up, and we’ve got to go out there and just do everything we can to win,” Wilson said. “I think the one thing that we do great is we respond. And let’s make sure that we respond at a high level.”

The Seahawks stumbled to the midway point of the regular season after Sunday’s 44-34 loss at Buffalo. Defining the first half of the season for Seattle is not easy. It’s layered, even as Seattle sits on top of the NFC West at 6-2.

This much is clear: Seattle has an offense capable of carrying the Seahawks deep into the playoffs and maybe even to a Super Bowl.

But Seattle’s defense has been so bad, so inconsistent and so penetrable that even Wilson’s greatness on the other side of the ball can’t solve all the problems. Sunday’s loss only raised more concerns after Seattle gave up 44 points, the most allowed by the Seahawks under Carroll.

Without improvement by Seattle’s defense, which is on pace to be among the worst in league history, a promising season could quickly collapse.

What’s working

The only time in franchise history the Seahawks had the best offense in the NFL was 2005 when Shaun Alexander was the league MVP and Seattle reached the Super Bowl for the first time. This year’s version of the Seahawks has the top scoring offense, averaging more than 34 points per game, and is third in yards.

Wilson may end up in the MVP conversation this year, but he needs to avoid games such as Sunday when he threw two interceptions and lost two fumbles. In Seattle’s two losses, Wilson has thrown five touchdowns and five interceptions. In the six wins: 23 touchdowns and three picks.

What needs help

Consider this: The Seahawks are on pace to have the worst pass defense in league history – in yards allowed – by nearly 1,000 yards. The 2011 Packers allowed 4,796 yards. The 2020 Seahawks are on pace to give up 5,794 yards passing. The argument those are “garbage yards” given up by the Seahawks was proven void when Buffalo simply chose not to run the ball against Seattle on Sunday.

Josh Allen threw 38 times for 415 yards and completed nearly 82% of his throws. Carroll said he’d rarely seen a game plan where a team simply gave up on one aspect of its offense. But with how awful the Seahawks’ pass defense is, why wouldn’t they?

Stock up

DK Metcalf’s breakout season is showing no signs of a slowdown. Metcalf had his fourth 100-yard game on Sunday with seven catches for 108 yards and his eighth TD. He’s on pace for 86 catches and more than 1,500 yards receiving in only his second year. Even more impressive is his consistency – only once this year has Metcalf been held under 90 yards receiving.

Metcalf is second in the league in yards receiving (788) and tied for third in yards per catch (18.3).

Stock down

One of Seattle’s big offseason moves was trading for cornerback Quinton Dunbar from Washington.

Even before he arrived in Seattle he became an off-field distraction after being arrested in Florida on armed robbery charges that were later dismissed. On the field, Dunbar has not matched the expectations. He’s been bothered by a sore knee and missed two games, and his coverage has suffered.

Sunday’s loss to Buffalo might have been his worst performance as the knee issues combined with poor play led to Dunbar being benched in the second half.

“It was hard on him. It was just hard on him physically,” Carroll said.


Seattle’s depth at running back and cornerback is being severely tested. The Seahawks are hopeful running backs Chris Carson (foot) and Carlos Hyde (hamstring) may practice this week. Same goes for cornerback Ugo Amadi (hamstring), but Carroll was less hopeful about Shaquill Griffin (hamstring). Throw in Dunbar’s sore knee and Seattle is extra thin in the secondary.

Key number

2,752 – That’s the total number of yards passing allowed by the Seahawks over 16 games during the 2013 season when Seattle won the Super Bowl. In eight games this season, the Seahawks have allowed 2,897.

What’s next

Seattle faces maybe its most difficult two-week stretch of the season. The Seahawks travel to Los Angeles to face the Rams on Sunday before returning home to host Arizona on a Thursday night. The next 10 days will greatly determine if Seattle remains on top of the NFC West or if it will end up in a fight for a playoff berth.

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