As the Seahawks began preparation to play on a short week, they did so knowing that a top priority has to be improving a run defense that allowed 223 yards to Carolina on Sunday, and that has given up 161 or more in four straight games, three of them losses.
"We have to make a turn here and the things that we've been focusing on, we have to see the results that we need to get done here," Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said Monday. "Our players know it and our coaches know it, so we just have to keep staying with it. We know that we have made some progress last week, but it didn't show up like we wanted to. I've been thinking about that maybe it is a bigger deal, it's going to take longer than one week to flip something that we wanted to flip. We will see what happens."
During a four-game winning streak earlier this season, the Seahawks did just about everything well defensively, including stopping the run, but for a myriad of reasons, that started changing during a Week 10 loss to Tampa Bay in Munich, and getting back on track has proved more challenging than the Seahawks would have hoped.
After the Tampa Bay loss, in which the usually pass-happy Buccaneers threw the Seahawks a run-heavy changeup, the Seahawks allowed 283 rushing yards in an overtime loss to the Raiders. There were signs of improvement in a Week 13 win over the Rams, though L.A. did still manage 171 rushing yards, but any progress from that win didn't carry over against the Panthers, who rushed for 145 yards in the second half to help put the game away.
"For whatever reason, since the Tampa game, we haven't been as sharp as we were earlier," Carroll said. "There are some things that we have done that have grown from that time, but teams have adapted. We have to keep adapting too, we have to keep getting better, and make sure that we are staying ahead of it. It's been frustrating that we haven't been able to right the stuff that we know. There's no mystery here, we know what we need to do, we just have to get it done.
"I don't think we have re-captured what we had a month ago. We are talking the right way, we know what we want to be and how we want this to happen, but you have to show it. We know what we are shooting for."
For the Seahawks, getting the run defense would be a huge priority regardless of the upcoming opponent, but it's an even bigger concern this week because one of the most dangerous rushing attacks in the NFL is coming to town on Thursday. Led by Christian McCaffrey, who was acquired in an October trade, the 49ers have eclipsed 150 rushing yards in three of their last five games, including 209 yards in Sunday's win over the Buccaneers. That running game, along with one of the NFL's best defenses, is a big reason the 49ers have won six in a row despite multiple injuries at quarterback.
On the addition of McCaffrey, Carroll said, "They are doing everything that they have ever done in the past with their running backs. He can do it all. The normal two-back, one-back stuff is nothing new for him, but they can deploy him out whether they are putting him in motion or shift him out and line him up outside. He caught a touchdown pass as an outside receiver last week, and he is in the slot quite a bit too. They're balancing out the targets and runs with him to really make you have to defend him all over the field. He's a fantastic football player, and he really makes the most of his opportunities. He really catches it and kind of gets every inch that is available to him."
Delta Air Lines and the Seahawks catered and served a lunch at Joint Base Lewis McChord's Army Fisher House for the families staying at the house on December 8, 2022.