RENTON — Over the past three games, the Seattle Seahawks have scored 103 points.
And they’ve lost twice.
The reason? A defense that is broken. Incapable of stopping the run. Incapable of stopping big plays. And until that changes, no matter how many points Geno Smith and Seattle’s offense scores it may not be enough.
“I would have thought that would be plenty of points to win all those games,” Seattle coach Pete Carroll said Monday.
Carroll was left searching for answers after Sunday’s 39-32 loss to New Orleans where the Seahawks were simply run over. Seattle allowed 235 yards rushing, including 112 yards to Taysom Hill and 103 yards to Alvin Kamara.
It was a sobering defensive effort and the fourth straight week Seattle was unable to slow down the ground game of its opponent.
Not surprisingly, the Seahawks have lost three of those four games.
Carroll said the problems against New Orleans were in part due to Hill and his versatility to throw or run. But that doesn’t explain the problems in the previous weeks and the inability to slow down San Francisco, Atlanta or Detroit.
“I just think we’re going to get better at this as we move forward,” Carroll said.
Seattle had better, otherwise one of the great stories developing early in the season is going to get overshadowed.
Smith might be the front-runner for comeback player of the year a quarter of the way through the season. He played exquisite again against the Saints throwing for 268 yards and three touchdowns, although Seattle continues to have second-half inconsistencies on the offensive side.
But the inadequacy of the defense so far is slowly nudging Smith out of the spotlight he deserves and is making his performance somewhat of a footnote.
Big plays continue to be a key part of Seattle’s offense. The Seahawks had four touchdowns of 35 yards or longer against the Saints, and have eight offensive touchdowns of 25 yards or more through five games. Last season, the Seahawks had 14 offensive touchdowns of 25 or more yards in 17 games.
“It’s a really fast progressing group and I’m hoping that we can keep making the plays and making the explosions, set the field position in order and all that kind of stuff,” Carroll said. “It’s a pretty exciting part of our team.”
WHAT NEEDS HELP
How bad is Seattle’s run defense? Look at it in the context of Carroll’s tenure and it begins to stand out. Seattle has allowed four straight opponents to rush for at least 145 yards. There are only two seasons with Carroll in charge where Seattle has had more games where opponents have rushed for more than 145 yards. And in those seasons — 2019 and 2018 — the longest streak of consecutive games was three. Until Seattle figures out a way to stop the run, it won’t have a winning formula.
Rookie RB Kenneth Walker III is about to see if he can handle the featured role in Seattle’s backfield. Walker showed some of the flash that made him a second-round pick by Seattle with his 69-yard touchdown run against the Saints. What hasn’t been proven yet — at least at this level — is whether Walker can handle the load of 15 to 20 carries per game. That’s about to be tested with Rashaad Penny out for the season after suffering a fractured fibula in his lower left leg that will require surgery.
It’d be easy to pick anyone on Seattle’s defense, but DK Metcalf falls into this category even though he had five catches for 88 yards and a 50-yard touchdown. But it was two errors by Metcalf that proved very costly. Metcalf dropped a pinpoint throw from Smith in the back of the end zone in the first half that would have pulled Seattle even at 17-17. The bigger mistake came on the first play of the second half when Metcalf fumbled. New Orleans scored off the turnover and never trailed again.
Penny’s was the most impactful injury and continuing a frustrating long history of injuries for the 2018 first-round pick. Penny rushed for 151 yards a week ago against Detroit and was on his way to a strong day against the Saints when he was tackled from behind and suffered yet another season-ending injury. Seattle claimed RB Tony Jones off waivers from New Orleans to add depth as backup Travis Homer is on injured reserve with a rib injury.
1 — Seattle was 1 of 9 on third downs against the Saints after going 9 of 12 a week earlier against the Lions. The Seahawks began the week as the second-best team in the league on third downs converting 55.3% of their attempts.
Seattle plays its only home game in a four-week span, hosting division rival Arizona on Sunday.
The Seahawks have lost two of their past three at home against the Cardinals.