or years, the Seattle Seahawks thrived defensively in part because of the swagger they played with on the unit.
But in a press conference at the 2022 NFL Combine, Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll admitted that the Seattle defense has crossed a line in recently years by playing with too much confidence.
“We’ve been a little bit arrogant over the years the way we play defense because we’ve been able to do it,” Carroll said. “Just go ahead and play what we want to play. It’s not that time right now. It’s time to keep moving and keep growing.
“And we’ve played the running game so well. I mean, we (gave up) 3.8 (yards) a carry for the season — that’s pretty darn good in this league (second in the NFL). And maybe that’s not the only thing we need to do.”
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Seahawks Defensive System
While Seattle’s ‘Legion of Boom’ defense played with plenty of confidence and perhaps arrogance when having defenders such as Richard Sherman, Earl Thomas and others on the roster, Carroll’s comments don’t really refer to that. Carroll was talking more about the scheme, which has sometimes been referred to as “simple,” the Seahawks defense has played with in the last decade.
“Remember how people just talked about all they (the Seahawks) do is play three-deep?” Carroll said. “You know, they don’t play anything else, they must be stupid? We were killing it for years, so we just [stayed with it].”
With three All-Pro players and four other Pro Bowlers on defense from 2012-16, it didn’t matter that opposing teams knew what the Seahawks defense would be doing — Seattle’s defense was so talented, offenses couldn’t beat it consistently.
But that began to change when Sherman, Thomas and the other Pro Bowl defenders left Seattle. Carroll added that the organization lost a lot of pieces to its coaching staff from that era too.
“The fact that our coordinators went all over the league on both sides of the ball, the offensive guys and the defensive guys, it got harder. It was hard on us. And so we stayed with [the three-deep scheme], but I just think as I’ve been pecking away at it for really like four years now, with stuff we’ve done subtly, and we made a bigger shift last year than we had, to just continue to adjust.
“Just needed to make it a legitimate shift.”
Changes to Seahawks Defensive Staff
With this offseason, Seattle has made a “legitimate shift” to its defense. The Seahawks fired defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr. and defensive passing-game coordinator Andre Curtis. In their place, the Seahawks have promoted defensive line coach Clint Hurtt to defensive coordinator and hired Sean Desai along with Karl Scott to associate head coach-defense and defensive passing-game coordinator, respectively.
Carroll seems to be hoping the outside hires with an inside promotion at defensive coordinator provide the right mixture for more defensive success in 2022.
“We feel like we need to do everything,” Carroll said. “We need to use single-high [safety] stuff and two-high stuff. And Sean and Karl both bring a wide breadth of experience to help us with our looks and disguises and to make it as intricate as we can, as difficult as we can, on the quarterback.”
The Seahawks last had a top 10 defense in yards allowed during the 2016 season. Seattle was ranked 28th in yards allowed in 2021, which is the worst-ranked defense in Pete Carroll’s NFL coaching career.