Defensive issues concerning for Seahawks

What started out as a mild concern for the Seattle Seahawks

became a full-blown issue after losing to Detroit.

For all the success Seattle has enjoyed this season on the

defensive side – being ranked No. 1 in the NFL in total defense

just a couple of weeks ago – the ability to make stops on third

down has been a nagging problem.

After watching Detroit convert 12 of 16 third downs and six of

them 8 yards or longer in Sunday’s 28-24 win over the Seahawks,

it’s moved beyond just a problem for Pete Carroll’s crew.

”It’s disturbing. I’d like to be how we are in the rest of our

game,” Carroll said on Monday. ”We’ll try and take a turn here.

We’ve had some deep discussions about it and see if we can get it

fixed right away.”

The attention and accolades that Seattle’s defense has received

at various times this season was earned. They did hold Aaron

Rodgers and Green Bay to just 12 points. They did shut down Tony

Romo and the Cowboys. And they did keep Tom Brady and the Patriots

in check long enough for Seattle’s offense to rally.

But the loss to Detroit was the second time this season that

Seattle’s defense had a chance to make a game-saving stop and

couldn’t get the job accomplished. In the season opener at Arizona,

Kevin Kolb came off the bench and led the Cardinals’ final drive

for a winning touchdown.

On Sunday, it was Matthew Stafford marching the Lions 80 yards

in 16 plays, capped by Titus Young’s 1-yard TD catch on

third-and-goal with 20 seconds left. Detroit converted three third

downs on the final drive.

”Our ineffectiveness on third down allowed them to move the

ball throughout the game when they did, but in particular the last

drive they just out-executed us going down the field,” Carroll

said. ”We were there and we mixed our calls, we tried everything

and we weren’t able to catch up with them. They made the plays and

won the game.”

According to STATS Inc., the Seahawks now rank last in the NFL

in allowing conversions on third-and-6 or more, giving up first

downs 39 percent of the time. The issues aren’t necessarily at 6, 7

or 8 yards, where Seattle is allowing just 9 conversions in 31

attempts, but surprisingly start at 9 and 10 yards or more.

Seattle has allowed 16 conversions in 37 plays of third-and-10

or more – 43 percent. No other team in the NFL has allowed more

than nine. The Lions’ were 3 of 5 on third downs of 10 yards or

more on Sunday, including two conversions of 11 yards and one of

10.

Carroll said some of the problems lie with the youth of his

defense and making sure communication is correct. Stafford also

surprised Seattle with his patience in coming off his main reads

and throwing underneath, giving his backs and receivers on shorter

routes the opportunity to run after the catch.

Stafford was 34 of 49 for 352 yards with only three completions

going to star receiver Calvin Johnson. Nineteen of Stafford’s

completions went to running backs or tight ends.

”It would be easy if we had gotten beaten in man coverage the

whole time or the zone stuff or the pressures,” Carroll said. ”We

did make some mistakes that they took advantage of, some real

little technical things … they took advantage of every one of

them and were so efficient down the stretch. Just shows you that

was a really good quarterback that we played and he was able to

carry it out throughout the game and get the win.”

On top of the defensive problems, Seattle is now thin at wide

receiver. Carroll said Doug Baldwin was a longshot to make it back

this week from a high ankle sprain suffered against San Francisco.

Ben Obomanu and fullback Michael Robinson were at a specialist

Monday having their injured wrists examined, while Braylon Edwards

was getting an MRI after his knee unexpectedly swelled and forced

him to miss Sunday’s game. Golden Tate also tweaked an ankle in the

loss, but Carroll said he was fine.

As of now, Seattle’s only healthy receivers on the active roster

are Sidney Rice and Charly Martin.

”We’ve got to find out what’s the deal with (Obomanu) and we’re

not going to know about Doug and the likelihood is not great for

Doug so we’re looking at our options here,” Carroll said.

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