The Seattle Seahawks headed to the Twin Cities on Sunday, Sept. 26, for a battle with the Minnesota Vikings. Russell Wilson and co. had the goal of winning and moving to 2-1 on the season, but the secondary became the Achilles heel during the 30-17 loss.
The issues began for the defense after Wilson connected with DK Metcalf for a 10-yard touchdown on the opening drive. Quarterback Kirk Cousins marched the Vikings offense down the field, completing all five passes and finding wide receiver Justin Jefferson and tight end Tyler Conklin for big gains. The former LSU receiver, in particular, caught back-to-back passes with Tre Flowers in coverage for a total of 18 yards. He later left DJ Reed in his dust on a three-yard touchdown.
With Cousins and the offense leading the way, the Vikings stacked up 453 yards and 30 points. They became the second team in seven days to score at least 30 points, joining the Titans who put up 33 during Week 2. Jefferson was a major problem for both Reed and Tre Flowers. He eluded both corners with double moves and precise routes, consistently moving the chains. He would have ended the day with more than 118 receiving yards if not for an errant pass from Cousins that bounced off his hands for an incompletion.
Cousins turned in his best performance of the season, completing 78.9% of his throws for 323 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions. He regularly found Jefferson, Adam Thielen, and Conklin for big gains and even connected with second-year receiver KJ Osborn for a huge first down while under pressure from blitzing defenders. Osborn added another first down for the Vikings after Ugo Amadi blatantly held him, drawing a penalty.
Granted, the secondary does not hold all of the blame for the defensive struggles. The front seven only sacked Cousins once while allowing backup running back Alexander Mattison to rush for 112 yards on 26 carries.
The Secondary Has Struggled Throughout 2021
The season is only three weeks deep, but the Seahawks have a major issue in the secondary. The corners and safeties have struggled to contain receivers and tight ends alike during losses. The game against the Vikings is only the latest example.
The Week 2 matchup against the Titans created concern as quarterback Ryan Tannehill threw for 347 yards with no touchdowns or interceptions. Derrick Henry took care of piling up points with three rushing touchdowns. Tannehill initially thought he had connected with Julio Jones for a score, but officials overturned it on replay review.
Jones led the way for Tennessee, piling up 128 yards on six catches while AJ Brown added 43 yards of his own. MyCole Pruitt, Henry, Jeremy McNichols, and Chester Rogers all caught at least two passes during the trip to Seattle.
The Seahawks Could Soon Make Changes
With the Seahawks struggling to contain opposing receivers and tight ends, there have been inevitable questions about the lineup. Specifically, reporters have asked if DJ Reed and Tre Flowers will remain as the starters or if other players will get opportunities to compete?
Carroll addressed this topic following the losses to the Titans and the Vikings. He noted that both Reed and Flowers have “battled” during the first stretch of the season. However, ESPN’s Brady Henderson noted that this term is a favorite of Carroll’s when he needs to criticize a player. Saying that a defender is battling is more of an indictment than a compliment.
The Seahawks have other cornerback options waiting in the wings. The team acquired Sidney Jones from the Jaguars on Aug. 30 and has spent time getting him ready to contribute. Additionally, the Seahawks signed former Jets cornerback Blessuan Austin on Sept. 5, providing another option for the defense.
The two new members of the secondary have yet to play a role during the 2021 season, but that could change in the coming days. According to Gregg Bell of the “Tacoma News Tribune,” Carroll explained that he is open to making some personnel changes and that there is “not much” keeping Jones from playing.
The Seahawks are now 1-2 and in need of a bounce-back performance. The next team on the schedule is San Francisco, an NFC West rival. The 49ers have several talented receivers on the roster, such as Deebo Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk, so getting the secondary right will be a top priority. There is a likely scenario where Jones or Austin makes a push for a starting spot in Week 4.
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