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Week 11 wasn’t kind to Pete Carroll’s former Seahawks defensive assistants

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NFL: Dallas Cowboys at Atlanta Falcons Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Pete Carroll is the originator. Departed assistants from his old Seattle Seahawks coaching staffs are the imitators. While Carroll’s 2018 Seahawks defense, this year manned by Ken Norton Jr, has arguably performed above expectations and was able to help close out last Thursday’s win over the Green Bay Packers, several former Seahawks assistants were subject to late-game defensive collapses in a wild Week 11.

Atlanta Falcons head coach Dan Quinn is undoubtedly Seattle’s best defensive coordinator in franchise history, but his current legacy is likely tied to his defenses on two different teams blowing a pair of double-digit Super Bowl leads to the New England Patriots... and 28-3 is really damn hard for any defense to squander against any offense. This year, his banged-up Falcons defense ranks 32nd in DVOA, now with four blown 4th quarter leads. Against the Dallas Cowboys, the Falcons held up well for most of the afternoon, but their 9-6 advantage was lost early in the final quarter on a Dak Prescott touchdown run, and then they were 19-9 down after a Matt Ryan interception gifted the Cowboys a short field. Julio Jones tied the game with 1:52 to go with a ridiculous touchdown grab in tight coverage against a Cowboys defense whose play-caller and passing game coordinator is former Seahawks DC Kris Richard.

Unfortunately for Quinn, the two-minute drill defense failed him again, as Dak Prescott led a 10-play, 51-yard drive, and Brett Maher made the game-winning field goal as time expired. Marquand Manuel, a former Seahawks player and Carroll assistant, called a three-man rush on a critical 3rd and 5 and Prescott predictably found an open receiver to extend the drive. The Falcons sit at 4-6 and have the New Orleans Saints on Thursday, so they might as well be done. Quinn is conceivably going to be on the hot seat next season, especially with how awful Atlanta’s defenses have been for Quinn’s entire tenure regardless of health. Sunday was Quinn’s 12th blown 4th quarter lead of any margin since he became Atlanta’s head coach in 2015, the 2nd most in the NFL behind only the Chargers.

The Jacksonville Jaguars were all over the Pittsburgh Steelers, sitting at 16-0 well into the 3rd quarter. Defensive coordinator Todd Wash (ex-Seahawks defensive line coach from 2011-2012) must have been overjoyed by Jalen Ramsey’s two-interception performance and the way the Steelers offense was being shut down. Unfortunately, the Jaguars offense (read: Blake Bortles) was as pitiful as ever, so the game was far from over, and Jacksonville’s defense gave up 20 points in the game’s final 16 minutes. With 5:06 to go, Ben Roethlisberger and company racked up 148 yards on 15 plays, as Roethlisberger’s one-yard plunge with :05 left capped off a stunning comeback that sits a point shy of tying the biggest blown lead in Jaguars history. Jacksonville now sits at 3-7, and while the offense should rightly get torn to shreds over 64 net passing yards, the defense that nearly took them to the Super Bowl last season ended up falling apart at the very last moment.

Lastly, our old pal Gus Bradley, Seahawks defensive coordinator from 2009-2012, is now the DC for the Los Angeles Chargers. Turnovers by Phillip Rivers kept their game against the Denver Broncos uncomfortably close, but after blowing a 19-7 lead, the Chargers got their noses in front on a field goal with 6:51 left. A defensive stop ensued, but Rivers inexplicably gifted the Broncos a free timeout with a virtual throwaway on 3rd down after the two-minute warning. Case Keenum, who’d spent much of the day barely mustering up any passing offense whatsoever, was backed up at his own 8-yard line with 1:51 and a timeout in his pocket, needing a field goal to win. Los Angeles melted down, as Keenum went 5/5 for 86 yards before clocking the ball with :03 left. He even had to do a little extra as Tim Patrick’s apparent 11-yard gain for a first down was wiped out due to an absurd OPI call against him. Brandon McManus split the uprights to give the Broncos an upset win, and severely damage the Chargers’ hopes of catching the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC West race.

That’s five former Seahawks assistants I’ve listed across four teams, all of whom lost 4th quarter leads, and three of them gave up the game-winning points in two-minute drill situations. Only the Cowboys prevailed, but not before blowing that 19-9 lead along the way. While Dallas is very much alive in the NFC East race (especially with Alex Smith done for the season for Washington), the Chargers’ AFC West hopes took a huge blow, while the Falcons and Jaguars are all but done in their respective bids to make the postseason.

One name not mentioned here because they’re off for Week 11 is San Francisco 49ers DC Robert Saleh, defensive quality control coach in Seattle from 2011-2013. The Niners may sit at 2-8, but four of their defeats saw them lose 4th quarter leads, and games against the Green Bay Packers, Arizona Cardinals, and New York Giants all finished with the deciding points scored in the final minute.

Is there a point to this article? Not really, just an observation. Everyone listed was part of the Seahawks’ rise to prominence and a Super Bowl win in some capacity, even if they weren’t all on the 2013 staff. In fact, Atlanta’s loss benefits the Seahawks! Now it’s up to Carroll’s defense to tighten up down the stretch and bring Seattle back into postseason play.