The question was a bit facetious, but it achieved the desired affect.
Was it coach Pete Carroll’s design for the Seahawks defense to play more pass coverage and total only 13 sacks midway through the season, tied for third-worst in the National Football League?
“The quick answer to that is no,” Carroll said, chuckling. “There’s no design to have 13 sacks. We should be getting two or three a game if we’re doing just average, so we’ve got to get to the quarterback more.
“We need to do all of the things – we need to pressure better and more effectively, we need our guys to rush, we’ve got to cover and hope they hold it more – so it’s a combination of things. We’ve got to get ahead in games too, so they’ll have to throw the ball more, and when we’re dictating situations that’ll help quite a bit.”
Defensive end Chris Clemons leads Seattle with five sacks and 10 quarterback hits. But no other player has more than one sack. Last year Clemons (11) and Raheem Brock (9) combined for 20 sacks, but Brock only has one so far this season.
Seahawks defensive coordinator Gus Bradley said he hasn’t dialed up as many blitzes this year because his unit has been more focused on stopping the run. And with big defensive end Red Bryant in the game on early downs, the Seahawks give up speed on the edge for a more physical front against the run. Bryant has just a half-sack on the year.
“We’re playing (the run) better,” Bradley said. “But the downside is we’re not getting some of the pressures that we need to. So I think we just need to find a happy medium.”
Safety Earl Thomas believes the issue is playing better on second down. That way the Seahawks can get opposing offenses in more third-and-long situations and get after the quarterback.
“We just have to put ourselves in the right down and distance,” Thomas said. “If it’s third and 1, then it’s kind of hard. So we’ve got to get them in third-and-7’s so we can bring pressure. And we’ve got to win on second down.”
Whatever the down and distance, Seattle defensive tackle Alan Branch said the bottom line is his unit needs to do a better job of creating consistent pressure.
“If we don’t blitz, we need to be able to get there with just the front four or five,” he said. “So it’s more of a mentality for me more than anything.”