This should be quick, as coaching is one of the more impenetrable parts of a football team.
Depending on which metric you prefer, the Seahawks are either the seventh or 11th ranked defense in the NFL. Week five of last year, Seattle 2-3 and coming off a 41-0 blowout of the Jacksonville Jaguars, the Seahawks were either the 15th or 16th ranked defense in the NFL. Seattle was 2-3 then and is 2-2 now because of an early bye. By the end of 2009, Seattle had fallen all the way down to 25th or 29th.
How did that happen exactly? Well, there are a lot of theories.
Team health declined. Seattle lost Marcus Trufant through the start of the season and he never fully recovered. It eventually lost Lofa Tatupu, Leroy Hill, Ken Lucas, Red Bryant, Patrick Kerney and Aaron Curry. A few other players missed a game here or there, like Cory Redding and Josh Wilson.
Jim Mora's play calling became predictable enough to be exploited. Seattle's blowout loss in Houston is one example.
The team quit on Mora and the coaching staff. The Bucs blowout win in Seattle is one example.
The offense undermined the defense through turnovers and short fields. You might notice that Seattle's offense is actually performing worse than it did through five weeks last season. A complement to the offense undermining the defense is that the defense was tired because the offense couldn't control time of possession. According to a site called Team Rankings, Seattle was the worst team in football by time of possession in 2009 and is the second worst team in football by time of possession in 2010. And though they've crawled up a position on the backs of the Bills, the Seahawks are actually performing worse: 27:30 in 2009 versus 25:13 in 2010.
Which is a long form way of writing that with another year of experience for some of Seattle's young players, better health, a new, defensive-minded head coach, two first round picks, one used on a talented young free safety, the Seahawks defense might be better and it might not be any better at all. Or, it might not perform better, whatever its absolute ability.
Should we pillory the coaches and throw rotten eggs? I mean, at some point we must acknowledge that this is Gus Bradley, Dan Quinn, Ken Norton, Jerry Grey and Pete Carroll's defense, and they are accountable for its performance.
I do not think so. I think the defense is performing reasonably well. The secondary is executing the bend but don't break principles being coached. The front seven is squashing the run and creating pressure through blitzing. I still think that what this defense needs is not new coaches or completely revamped personnel, but a functioning offense. That, one would assume, is part of why Marshawn Lynch was traded for. Facing a top five run defense on the road probably isn't a great way to jump start the run game, but globally, trading for Lynch is an attempt to resuscitate a failed unit and push the offense towards viable.
However, we're not too far from the point where change is at least considered. The Seahawks are spinning their wheels in more than a few ways. Change for change's sake doesn't do anything but set a team back, but sticking to a failed model doesn't do anything but prolong failure. So, a quarter into the Seahawks season, looking from the outside, it would seem the coaches are at least accomplishing what they want, but we are nearing the point where we must ask if what the Seahawks coaches want is actually a sound strategy.