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Make No Mistake, Seahawks' Woes Ultimately Fall on Dysfunctional Offense

Over the last three weeks, the Seahawks have been on the defensive side of the ball for over two hours of game time. Naturally, the exhaustion birthed by this disproportionate workload has taken its toll, and while Seattle's defense is far from perfect, there's truly only one entity to blame: the offense.

How is it possible for the NFL's eighth-best scoring defense (20.2 points allowed per game) to also sit dead-last in total yards allowed per game (399)? It's simple, really: the Seahawks' defense has been subjected to a disproportionate workload on a weekly basis, thanks to a lethargic, unsupportive offense. 

Don't get it twisted: Seattle is certainly flawed defensively. All year long, Ken Norton Jr.'s unit has struggled to generate consistent pass rush and limit the damage on screen plays. It was an unmitigated disaster through the first five weeks of the season, particularly in pass coverage. However, from that point forward, it's been the team's lone saving grace. It's the sole reason the Seahawks' negative point differential comes in at a modest -17 instead of somewhere in the triple digits.

Now eight losses and 11 total games into the 2021 campaign, Seattle is averaging 24 minutes and nine seconds time of possession per contest. That, of course, ranks 32nd in the league—a near three full minutes behind the 31st-ranked club, the Jaguars (27:00). As ESPN's Field Yates noted on Tuesday morning, the 1999 Browns are the only team to fall under the 25-minute threshold in the last 45 years, but the Seahawks are well on their way to joining them.

The biggest reason for this chasmic divide has been the Seahawks' inability to convert on third down. In those scenarios, they're moving the sticks just 3.5 times a game—yet another category they rank 32nd in. That's with the least amount of third down opportunities in the NFL (10.9 per game), only because they're incapable of extending drives to create more.

These woes all came to a head in the team's latest disaster: a 17-15 loss to the Washington Football Team under the national spotlight of Monday Night Football. On 11 drives, the Seahawks recorded just 10 first downs to Washington's 27. Plagued by the inaccuracy of quarterback Russell Wilson, who still looks far from 100 percent in his return from finger surgery, they converted just 33.3 percent of their third downs (4-of-12) and went three-and-out a whopping six times, including five consecutive drives from the first to second quarters. Consequently, Washington won the time of possession battle, 41:40-18:20.

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Many will blame the defense for allowing several long, sustained drives. Four of Washington's 10 "real" drives (excluding end of half/game) saw 10 or more plays called; three of which lasted north of six minutes. This, however, is the mere product of an imperfect, understandably exhausted defense that has been forced to act out the same script for the past six games. 

In the three games since Wilson's comeback, Seattle's offense has controlled the ball for 58 minutes and 39 seconds, scoring just three touchdowns in 30 drives. This means the defense has played two hours, one minute and 11 seconds worth of football over the last 22 days. No matter how you slice it, this is a massive problem, and the culprits' collective hands are dripping red. 

Despite tears being shed in the aftermath of Monday night's outcome, cooler heads prevailed as several Seahawks defenders stepped up to the podium. From Jamal Adams to Bobby Wagner and Jordyn Brooks, all frustrations were directed inward, and any attempt to provoke finger-pointing was deflected. 

“We can focus on us as far as the defense. I don’t talk about the offense," Adams stated. "Those guys are going to figure it out and they’re going to make strides in a positive way. I’m not doubting them one bit. All we can do as a defense is go out there and control what we can control. Obviously giving up that last touchdown where they punched it in, we could have done a better job as a defense. Whether that was disguising or being in the right place at the right time, but they had a hell of a call for what we were in and they made that play. We need to do our job of keeping them out of the end zone.” 

Such a modest response is to be expected, but the Seahawks' defense has every right to feel slighted by their offensive counterparts. There is no cohesion; no give, only take and a spit in the face. Healthy partnerships are meant to be transactional, but right now, Seattle's offense has left its better half at the altar distraught and utterly exhausted.

This is the story of the 2021 Seattle Seahawks.