Seahawks' defense in rush to plug holes

Carroll tired of seeing rookie backs run over his defense after studying video of past 2 games

todd.dybas@thenewstribune.comNovember 5, 2013 

Tampa Bay’s Mike James (25) finds room to run Sunday in Seattle. The rookie averaged 5.6 yards per carry against Tony McDaniel (99) and the rest of the Seahawks playing defense.

SCOTT STODDARD — Staff photographer

— Still in uniform well after the game was over Oct. 28 in St. Louis, Seattle Seahawks defensive end Red Bryant passed credit to the Rams.

Bryant was willing to admit that the Seahawks’ run defense had received repeated boots to the posterior, though he relayed the thought in more direct terms.

Bryant is one of the affable leaders of the defense for the Seahawks. That’s why seeing him abrupt and irritated following Sunday’s win was a surprise.

He was asked in various ways about Seattle being gouged for the second consecutive game by an opponent’s rushing attack. Both the Rams and Tampa Bay Buccaneers ran for more than 200 yards against the Seahawks.

“We won,” Bryant said in his Jasper, Texas, baritone. “I’m done.”

With that, he was off to the showers.

Bryant has been around for the bad with the Seahawks — he joined the team in 2008 — and has been a large

influence on the good, starting every game since 2011. Repeated questions about not

being able to stop the run nip at his pride.

For Seahawks coach Pete Carroll, being run over by rookie running backs Zac Stacy (Rams) and Mike James (Buccaneers) forced him into a Monday morning film session. The Seahawks were not being beat by creativity. They were getting pounded by the run because of poor basics.

“We were sloppy in our run fits, again,” Carroll said. “Unfortunately, we missed some reads on a couple of new plays that they ran. They did a nice job in changing up and we weren’t as sharp, and the ball got out on us.

“A couple of defenses, we were trying to pressure and we got hit while we were pressuring them and we didn’t execute the run part of it well. So we’re just off a little bit, and we have not fixed it in these two weeks.”

As recently as Oct. 17, the Seahawks held the Arizona Cardinals to 30 yards rushing. That was anticipated. The Cardinals came into the game as one of the worst running teams in the league. They are 24th in rushing yards per game.

But that doesn’t explain the struggles against St. Louis, which is 23rd in the league after rolling to 200 yards against the Seahawks.

The Rams were held under 100 yards rushing in six of their other eight games. They gained 18 rushing yards against the San Francisco 49ers.

“We have 38 runs and 40 runs (against us) the last two weeks,” Carroll said. “That’s because it’s available. They wouldn’t run it that many times if we’re playing it better.”

Carroll initially thought the Seahawks were trying to strip the ball too often, which would have contributed to their tackling problems. After looking Monday, he backed off that assessment.

“That was wrong,” Carroll said. “Nice thought, though. It was a good thought.”

He said tackling and communication were issues.

“It’s just not as clean as it needs to be,” Carroll said.

A temporary elimination of this concern could come Sunday in Atlanta. The Falcons are last in the NFL in rushing yards per game.

The 49ers are the best at it, and the Seahawks will deal with them in San Francisco a little more than a month from now with the division lead possibly on the line.

EXTRA POINTS

This week Bryant and center Max Unger will be going through the concussion-testing regimen the team has set up. Both are dealing with concussion symptoms from Sunday’s game. The Seahawks won’t know until Thursday or Friday if either will play Sunday, and are preparing as if they are both out. … Wide receiver Percy Harvin (hip) remains day-to-day. Left tackle Russell Okung and right tackle Breno Giacomini are expected back at practice Wednesday. Carroll said it’s unlikely Giacomini will play this week. By rule, Okung can’t play until the Nov. 17 game against the Vikings since he was placed on the short-term injury reserve list. … Carroll said quarterback Russell Wilson, who was hit five times Sunday, is fine and will practice on his normal schedule this week.

todd.dybas@thenewstribune.com blog.thenewstribune.com/seahawks @Todd_Dybas

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