Hawks’ ‘D’ is 3rd-down dud

DEFENSIVE STRUGGLES: Seattle defense ranks 27th in league in stopping third-down conversions

eric.williams@thenewstribune.comOctober 30, 2012 

RENTON – Pete Carroll takes pride in his team playing smart and physical, but his defense is performing like they’re punch drunk on third downs.

Seattle’s vaunted defense is No. 3 in the league in points allowed, giving up just 16.8 points a contest. And Seattle is No. 5 in total defense, allowing just 312 yards a contest.

But the Seahawks are 27th in the league on third downs, with opponents converting nearly 45 percent of their chances into first downs. The league average for third-down defense is 33 percent.

“We’ve just got to play better,” Seattle defensive end Chris Clemons said when asked about his team’s struggles on third down. “That goes for each and every individual on defense.”

The Seahawks allowed New England to convert eight of 18 (44 percent) third-down conversions on Oct. 14, their last home game. Seattle did better against San Francisco on Oct. 18, holding the Niners to 3-of-11 (27.3) success on third-down conversions.

But against Detroit on Sunday, the Seahawks allowed the Lions to convert 75 percent (12-of-16) of their third downs into first downs, including every third down in the fourth quarter.

Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford completed 14 of his 15 third-down passes for 111 yards and two touchdowns. He also ran for a score.

Even more troubling for Carroll was Seattle’s inability to get off the field in third-and-long situations.

According to STATS Inc., Seattle’s defense allows 43.2 percent (16 of 37) third-down plays from 10 yards and longer to be converted into first downs, worst in the league. No other team in the NFL has allowed more than nine such conversions.

Carroll addressed his defense’s third-down struggles during his Monday press conference, saying the reason for the high success rate by opponents is a mixture of inexperience on defense and a need for a more consistent pass rush by the front four.

“It’s just being comfortable with the situation,” Carroll said. “And doing the same thing right again and again, and not changing a little bit. Maybe we try a little too much, or we try a little too hard to make a play or something. Those things you can wash out with experience sometimes. And sometimes guys are just trying to make things happen, and they make mistakes.

“But I think we’ve tried a little bit too hard to be perfect, or to catch a tendency or something like that, and then we miss our drops. … I know we can get a lot better, I just hope we can do it right away. We need to get this done soon.”

INJURY UPDATE

The Seahawks have only three healthy receivers heading into practice for Sunday’s game against Minnesota.

Carroll will consider making moves to beef up depth at that position, including possibly activating University of Washington and Lakes High product Jermaine Kearse from the practice squad.

Starters Sidney Rice and Golden Tate, plus slot receiver Charly Martin are the healthy receivers.

“We have to consider our situation because there’s a little uncertainty there,” Carroll said.

Carroll said Doug Baldwin is a long shot to play this weekend. Baldwin missed the Detroit game with a high ankle sprain.

“(Baldwin) ran at the end of the week,” Carroll said. “We’ll just see if he can tolerate it.”

Carroll said that Ben Obomanu is seeing a specialist for a sprained wrist he suffered against Detroit.

Braylon Edwards is having his swollen knee examined. The eight-year veteran woke up the day of the Detroit game with the injury, which caused him to miss the contest.

“The initial look at it is he doesn’t have any damage to his knee,” Carroll said about Edwards. “He has a knee that’s worn on. And so it responded for whatever reason to this trip, and we’ll see what that means.”

Carroll said the team will give Edwards a few days to rest his knee and see how he is at the end of the week, with the hope he can play against Minnesota.

EXTRA POINTS

Carroll said the team has not made a decision on whether cornerback Walter Thurmond will be activated from the physically unable to perform list this week. … Offensive lineman John Moffitt (knee) is expected to play this week, after missing his fifth consecutive game. … Fullback Michael Robinson is seeing a specialist for the wrist injury he suffered against Detroit, Carroll said. … The playing status of defensive tackle Jason Jones remains undecided. Jones missed the Detroit game with an ankle injury.

3rd down a downer for seahawks

Here’s how the Seattle defense stacks up on third down compared to other top defenses in the league NFL rank in parentheses:

TeamPoints allowedTotal defense3rd down Pct.

1. San Francisco12.1 (1)271.4 (1)31.81 (3)

2. Chicago14.3 (2)316.0 (7)34.07(5)

3. Seattle16.8 (3)312.0 (5)43.93 (27)

4. Miami18.0 (4)363.0 (22)26.42 (1)

5. Houston 18.3 (5)283.0 (3)27.47 (2)

Eric D. Williams: 253-597-8437 Eric.williams @thenewstribune.com blog.thenewstribune.com/seahawks/ eric.williams@thenewstribune.com

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