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Danny O'Neil covers the Seahawks for The Seattle Times.

November 6, 2012 at 6:05 AM

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Reading between the lines: Pete Carroll and Seahawks defense

Adrian Peterson rushed for more yards Sunday than any Seahawks opponent since Pete Carroll became coach so Seattle's defense was not-so-surprisingly a subject of conversation Monday. Here's what Seattle's coach said, and what we think he might have meant:
(EDITOR'S NOTE: Take our projections of "What Carroll meant" with the spirit with which they are intended, which is a humorous supposition on what his inner id might say, as opposed to an earnest attempt to get inside Carroll's head.)

Q: When you look at the run defense, how much of that was breakdowns on your part, and how much was just Adrian Peterson making plays?

What Carroll said: "Well Adrian certainly had a big part of it, in particular the first big run. He made a lot of guys miss, but we did not fit our runs well at all at times. There's a bunch of them that we did, but there was half a dozen plays that we didn't, and he took advantage of it and made the most of it. He was very, very quick and was very decisive of his runs and made the most of his opportunities that he had. We were lucky to get him down a couple of times. So you take a great back, and then you give him some room because of the mistakes we made, and he tears it up and has a big day."

What Carroll meant: I'm not going to take anything away from Adrian Peterson. He was the best high-school player in the country when I tried to recruit him to USC. Would have given him good money, in fact, if the NCAA let me. He went to Oklahoma, though, and now he's one of the best running backs in the league now. But if you think I'm going to just tip my cap to him and say, 'Well, sometimes you face a stud,' then you didn't see the dozen or so tackles we missed Sunday. Is he good? No doubt. But being good doesn't explain 182 yards rushing. Our chicken-with-its-head-cutoff defense had a little something to do with that.

Q: Were there any similarities to what San Francisco was able to do in the run game and what Minnesota did?

What Carroll said: "It wasn't the same style of runs, but it was similar in that we made errors. The good part for us is they're really easily corrected. Those are things that we can fit better, and there were things that we practiced against that we didn't do well. We did one play, and then the next play, we came back and didn't do well the next time."

What Carroll meant: Do you really think it's as simple as one play? That our opponents found our kryptonite, and it's a trap running play that's a staple of high-school JV football? It's a little more complicated than that. Some of it has to do with the fact there are 300-pound professional athletes blocking us, and some of it has to do with the fact the majority of our defensive starters don't have two full seasons with this team.

And for all the rough spots you point out, we haven't allowed more than 30 points in a game yet this season. You know how many other teams can say that in this league? Atlanta, which is the NFL's only undefeated team. And Chicago, tied for the second-best record in the league with a defense that has scored almost as many touchdowns as Jacksonville's offense. And San Francisco, which is 6-2. And, well, that's it. We're one of four teams that hasn't given up 30 points yet this season, but yeah, go ahead and say we're struggling.

Q: Early in the season, the offense was kind of slow to get going and the defense was playing really well. Are the roles kind of reversed?

What Carroll said: "I think it's the reality of how the game goes and how the seasons go is just at hand. You need everybody contributing, and sometimes it's special teams that bails everybody out. I mentioned that today to the players that it's cool to see that the balance is there. That the offense can pick up when the defense is struggling and give us a chance to get righted, which we did, and then we both took off in the second half."

What Carroll meant: So it's a bad thing that we were able to dig ourselves out of two first-half deficits? Didn't everyone spend the first month of this season talking about how we were potentially wasting a great defense by starting a rookie quarterback?

Well the rookie quarterback threw for three touchdowns in the first half as the offense came back and won a game for us. That's a problem? No. That's how it has to be in the NFL sometimes unless you missed all those explanations about how this is, "a quarterback's league."

Q: These past two games, your defense has given points than it has earlier in the year. It's two different opponents, but do you have any overriding concerns?

What Carroll said: "I do think we're overtrying a little bit. I think, just in general, guys are trying to live up to the expectations, and we're trying really hard and at times. It takes you out of your game. That's something we're really concerned about. We just want to play the way we're capable of playing. Sometimes guys try to go beyond their responsibility to make a play and they get in a bad situation. That's just because they want to do really well and they're trying really hard and all of that."

What Carroll meant: You know how many teams have yet to allow 30 points in a game this year? Oh wait. I already told you we're one of four teams. My bad. Look, it's a 16-game season and the guys on the other side of the ball spend as much time studying as we do, and they've seen that we react to the flow of the play more than we should. And they're keying on that. And the fact that we have exactly one player on this defense who was a full-time NFL starter prior to 2010 means that we're a little green and headstrong. We're going to mature or ripen or whatever adjective you want to hang on the fact that evaluating a 10-quarter stretch in the middle of a season in which we're 5-4 is not exactly the final judgment.

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Yeah, sometimes people forget that the other teams get paid a lot to beat us too. The... MORE
Thanks, Danny - well said. PS - I am confident Pete will get the Hawks into the... MORE
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