As is the case in nearly every football game, it's unfair to place all of the blame for a loss on one thing, but in the Seahawks' loss to the Rams Thursday night, one of the biggest factors was a defense that, after playing very well in the first half, was unable to get stops in the second half as the Rams scored three touchdowns on four possessions to take control of the game.
And for Seahawks coach Pete Carroll, the frustrating part of that loss isn't just that the Rams were getting too many easy completions to open receivers in the second half, it's that the same issues that have plagued the defense throughout this season keep coming up rather than getting fixed.
"I'm disappointed that we are not getting better at some stuff," he said. "In this game, if you show vulnerability, the next team is going to go after them, and you have to fix them. There are a few things that have been repeated and we haven't made enough progress. We are off to a start that we are back and forth and don't have the rhythm that we want. Although, we can see the potential for it and how it can happen. You can see that in portions of games where we play well and be effective and efficient, but the consistency isn't there.
"The ability to fix these problems is really what's at hand. It's not a mystery, we just have to get better at quite a few things. That's where we are facing it and there's no time. The couple days we have here, we realign a few things and make sure we put our guys in the right positions and situations during the week so that they are ready. The things that are happening in the games are something we practice. That's alarming to me because we are on it. We have to get it right, so we have to help the players execute better and make sure that we are making progress. That's what our challenge is and unfortunately, we get a game that gets away and again could have had it in control. You can see the control part of it, you can see that we can get there, but we have to get better."
As Carroll notes, the frustration comes not just from the plays the defense is giving up, it also is the result of the defense showing at times that it can play well, making it all the more troubling when things go south. The Seahawks opened the season by limiting the Colts to just 16 points, with the final touchdown coming late when the Seahawks had the game under control. The defense also looked good for a half against Tennessee, and for almost all of last week's win over the 49ers. Then on Thursday the Seahawks kept one of the NFL's best offenses in check for a half, giving up just a field goal while the Rams, a team that had punted only eight times all season coming into the game, punted three times in the first half while also committing a turnover. But in the second half of a loss to Tennessee, throughout a loss to Minnesota, then again in the second half Thursday, a Seahawks opponent was able to move the ball too easily on a defense that has shown the ability to be better than that. And the result is a defense that, despite having a number of talented players who have shown the ability to make good things happen, is statistically one of the worst in the NFL, just as was the case a year ago before the 2020 team turned things around and played great defense in the second half of the season.
"I don't have an explanation for that, because if I did, I would've fixed it," Carroll said. "I'm really disappointed that we're off to a start statistically that looks like garbage. We're better than that."
From a player perspective, safety Quandre Diggs, who has been one of Seattle's best defensive players this year, including interceptions in consecutive games, said after the game, "We just have to keep pushing. It definitely stings right now, we know that, but there's a lot of football to be played. We know what we have to do. Guys just have to lock in and be ready to go.
"We got (stuff) we need to fix, and everybody knows that. At the end of the day, you either do your job, or you're not ready for this type of atmosphere. That's just plain and simple… It needs to get fixed, I know that. We have the guys in the room to fix it. We just got to do what we got to do, and hopefully we make these plays when these opportunities come."
Like his head coach, Diggs is unhappy with the lack of consistency from a defense that has shown flashes, but hasn't been able to get the job done consistently.
"It's super frustrating because you can see what we did in that first half, we were locked in and guys were on their stuff," he said. "I don't know if it's mental lapses, I don't know what it is. Guys get comfortable that we hold a team to three points, and you get relaxed. It's the NFL, you can't do that."
Diggs and other players have said that they need to do more to make things work on the field, But Carroll says it ultimately falls on him to figure out how to make sure the right corrections get made before the season gets away from the Seahawks.
"It's just being more precise about it," Carroll said "I'm surprised we haven't cleaned it up because we have experienced guys that understand and coaches understand, so I'm not getting it done. Ultimately, I have to do a better job and that's what I'm saying. I have to make sure we make these corrections come to life because we are addressing them. It's a couple of the same issues we had a couple of weeks ago. If you are looking for a falter, it's not that. It's the process that we have to get better at so that it shows up on game day."
While figuring out a way to get players to execute better will be the top priority, Carroll also won't rule out making more changes to the lineup as needed. The Seahawks have already made a change at cornerback, going from Tre Flowers on the right side and D.J. Reed on the left side to starting Sidney Jones at left cornerback while moving Reed to the right side.
"We're always looking," Carroll said when asked if personnel changes were a possibility. "We're just trying to find the guys that are going to do things right and effectively. That comes from sometimes guys got to come off the bench to do that and help you. If nothing else, it keeps the competitive environment the way it needs to be to help guys be at their best."
The Seattle Seahawks take on the Los Angeles Rams for Thursday Night Football during Week 5 of the 2021 season at Lumen Field. This album will be updated throughout the game. Game Action photos are presented by Washington Lottery.