Seahawks Defensive Woes Can't Be Fixed by Abrupt Staff Changes
To say the least, the Seahawks pass defense has been bad three weeks into the 2020 season. There isn't any way around that. They rank 22nd in points allowed, 30th in yards per pass attempt, 32nd in passing yards allowed, and their five sacks in three games are tied for the eighth-worst in the league. It's been awful no matter what metric you look at.
But if you were to believe some in the social media world, there is a simple panacea that would magically solve all of these problems. The solution? Simply fire defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr. Simple as that, right? Obviously, it would make some Seahawks fans feel better for a few weeks. Somebody must be held accountable for these numbers and it's not like we can blame the players for playing poorly, right?
Fans tend to view assistant coaches as replaceable. In football, everybody is quick to demand the firing of the offensive or defensive coordinator. In baseball, the hitting coach must be fired when the bats go cold. But all of that is nonsense. It's simply bad performance art. Scapegoating Norton won't solve any problems for the Seahawks defense and could actually create new ones.
Norton is ultra popular amongst the defensive players in Seattle, especially team captain Bobby Wagner. Prematurely firing Norton, particularly when the team is 3-0, could rock the locker room in ways that could have catastrophic consequences.
Even if you're willing to risk rocking the boat, you'd still have to ignore two major factors that Norton has very little control over: he didn't decide to not sign the pass rushers Seattle desperately needs and he doesn't have total control of the defense. The defensive coordinator position in Seattle is more ceremonial in than most coaching staffs in the league. This is Pete Carroll's defense. Norton is working under Carroll's direction.
If you don't like the way things are game-planned, your issue is with Carroll. If you don't like the way the defense was built this offseason, your beef is with John Schneider. Most of us have no idea if Norton is good at his job or not. Former Carroll proteges like Gus Bradley and Dan Quinn have had mixed results in building defenses after leaving Seattle. So did Kris Richard. The defensive responsibility begins and ends with Carroll.
We've yet to even point at the players, particularly in the secondary. Tre Flowers and Shaquill Griffin have been mediocre at best. We've seen one good half from Quinton Dunbar. Even Jamal Adams has had his struggles in pass defense. On top of that, the injuries are quickly mounting. Marquise Blair is out for the season. Dunbar missed his first game this week and Lano Hill did as well. Quandre Diggs lost three quarters after an ejection and now Adams is dealing with a groin injury. None of these factors are Norton's fault.
There may come a time when firing Norton makes sense. It may have already passed given last year's defensive troubles. But that time is certainly not entering Week 4 of the 2020 season, especially when the Seahawks are 3-0. Though Dan Quinn could easily be jettisoned by the Falcons soon after blowing huge leads two weeks in a row, it's not like he can instantly be hired as a replacement at his old position. That's not how this works.
Seahawks fans understandably want answers for why a talented group isn't playing better. But rushing to judgment and demanding a person lose his job for some false sense of satisfaction is, frankly, a laughably bad idea.