In the Seahawks’ 37-34 Week 7 overtime loss to the Arizona Cardinals, Seattle didn’t record a single sack or even register a QB hit against Kyler Murray, who threw for 360 yards and three touchdowns.
The Seahawks allowed Murray to work on his own schedule, never forcing the issue. Coach Pete Carroll noted that his defense played too low-risk the first time around, and he should have insisted defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr. blitz Murray more to force the QB’s hand.
“There’s no question there are some good takeaways,” Norton said Tuesday. “We learned a lot from playing them the first time.”
By not pressuring Murray, the QB was permitted to be comfortable in the pocket, and the Cardinals’ offense was rarely in negative down-and-distance situations. Norton knows they can’t allow the young signal-caller to be that relaxed in Thursday night’s rematch.
“There’s no question sacks and negative plays really help,” Norton said. “Third and mediums are really tough, so when you get third and longs after a sack it really helps. … It’s important that the (blitz) calls help. Our team, they play well aggressively. They respond well to it.
“Now, it’s just a matter of being able to make the play — and make sure that the high-risk, high-reward, it doesn’t hurt us in the long run.”
Seattle’s struggles slowing Murray in Week 7 weren’t an aberration. Carroll’s defense has been historically bad in 2020. The Seahawks have allowed 448.3 total yards per game, most in the Super Bowl era.
This season, Seattle has allowed the most points per game, total YPG, passing YPG and highest opponent third-down percent conversions since Carroll became Seattle’s head coach in 2010. The 2020 Seahawks have allowed more points (266) and pass yards (3,282) in nine games than their 2013 counterparts did in 16 games (231; 3,050).
More than personnel, however, the Seahawks know they must get after Murray and not allow him to scamper for big gains in order to slow the Cardinals’ offense.
“I definitely feel like there’s things that we did that game that (are) correctable,” Wagner said. “I think we had opportunities to do so, and we’ve just got to execute. And you know, I don’t think we had Jamal last game. We didn’t have a couple of guys last game.
“So I think we’ll be able to get to him.”
Thursday’s marquee NFC West showdown between the Cardinals and Seahawks kicks off in Seattle at 8:20 p.m. ET and airs on NFL Network, FOX and Amazon Prime Video.