Analysis: Seahawks two-minute defense desperately needs to improve

Joe Fann

Pete Carroll isn't a fan of the phrase "bend but don't break." He prefers boxing jargon as a way to describe his defense that ranks 26th in passing yards allowed through five games.

"I think I refer to it as a ‘rope-a-dope,' which is a favorable phrase of mine," Carroll said on Friday. "We don't want to bend but don't break. That's not what we're looking at. We're trying to keep them from scoring fast, first off, and then we'd like to control the line of scrimmage and keep the running game in control and play really good on third down.

"With all that happening, if we can get the football, now we've got a chance. ‘Bend but don't break' is a nice way of saying they put up a lot of yards but you still won."
But that's exactly what happened against the Rams. Los Angeles gashed the Seahawks for 477 total yards. The Rams had swift touchdown drives of eight plays for 62 yards, six plays for 75 yards and five plays for 75 yards. All three possessions lasted 2:53 or less. Los Angeles also made its final 10-play, 77-yard drive at the end of the game look easy to set up what would have been a game-winning field goal for Greg Zuerlein had he made it.

The Rams utilized their two-minute offense in each of those instances.

"We're really disappointed in the last drive of that game in particular," Carroll said.

The problem is that it wasn't just the Rams game where Seattle's defense struggled to defend a two-minute offense. The Seahawks have allowed a touchdown in the final minute of the first half in all three home games this season: a 55-yard pass to John Ross in Week 1, a 29-yard pass to Alvin Kamara in Week 3 and a 9-yard pass to Cooper Kupp in Week 5.

Seattle even allowed the Steelers to march down the field on a 12-play, 75-yard touchdown drive to keep themselves within reach in the fourth quarter of Week 2. The game would have been tied at 21 had Pittsburgh converted on its two-point try. A comfortable win against the Cardinals in Week 4 has been the lone game where the Seahawks haven't been burned when their opponent was desperate for points.

"We've just got to do better," Carroll said in regards to Seattle's two-minute defense. "There are things that we're working on to make sure we're more aggressive in those situations so we can keep them from moving the football."

Seattle's offense has two statement drives so far this season: a 12-play, 51-yard drive that salted away the final 5:34 against the Steelers and a 15-play, 81-yard touchdown drive that lasted 8:08 to ice the game against the Cardinals. The Seahawks defense has one: Tedric Thompson's fourth-quarter interception against the Rams, something that would have gone for naught had Zuerlein made the 44-yard field goal attempt.

The Seahawks have a habit of letting teams hang around longer than they should. Seattle is a better team than the Cleveland Browns, the next opponent on its schedule. If and when the Seahawks establish a lead in the game, there will come a point where the Browns will be in a must-score situation.

We'll all get to find out if Seattle's defense has made the necessary adjustments in order to keep that from happening.

Analysis: Seahawks two-minute defense desperately needs to improve originally appeared on NBC Sports Northwest