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Seahawks’ defensive implosion vs. Titans felt all too familiar

Tennessee Titans v Seattle Seahawks Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images

To be completely honest with you, that’s the Seattle Seahawks defense I expected to see against the Tennessee Titans. As much as they played well against the Indianapolis Colts, the Colts have neither a good quarterback nor a great set of receiving targets. Tennessee has a really good quarterback, a great running back, and a dangerous duo of wide receivers.

What was the end result? The horrible defense that the Seahawks trotted out throughout the early stages of the 2020 season and much of the 2019 campaign, overseen by the much maligned Ken Norton Jr. Tennessee rushed for over 200 yards, amassed over 500 yards of total offense, and had 9 of their 12 drives (subtracting the kneeldown at halftime) end in Seattle territory. The Titans only punted twice and one of them was on the opening series. Outside of the Alton Robinson strip sack they were never close to getting another takeaway and if you’re keeping track, this is the fourth game in a row without an interception for the Seahawks dating back to last season.

The 33 points allowed honestly flattered them. They could’ve and should’ve given up more. Tennessee had at least six dropped passes and I’m still not 100% convinced that Julio Jones’ touchdown should’ve been overturned. The funny thing about “bend but don’t break” is what happens when you’ve run out of ability to bend.

Behind a backup left tackle and eventually a backup left guard, Ryan Tannehill was scarcely pressured on his 40+ dropbacks. Julio Jones had over 100 yards receiving by halftime. Derrick Henry had 147 yards rushing in the 2nd half and 55 yards receiving on a career-high 6 catches. In fact his only games where he had more receiving yards were on single-catch touchdowns of 77 and 66 yards. Seattle had a hard time dealing with screens last week and were poor at defending it again versus the Titans.

Time of possession was comically in Tennessee’s favor (44 minutes to 22 minutes) and they ran 83 plays to just 52 for the Seahawks. Part of this was Seattle’s inability to sustain any offensive drives outside of very quick strike touchdowns. The other part was the Titans racking up 33 first downs while going a modest 6/14 on 3rd down. The Seahawks gifted them first downs via penalty a half-dozen times.

Getting shredded on early downs is a recipe for disaster. Observe these drives, starting field position in brackets:

  • Titans’ first field goal (TEN 15): Four 3rd downs faced, three converted (one by penalty).
  • Titans’ second field goal (TEN 20): Only 3rd down was the Bobby Wagner sack to force a field goal.
  • Titans’ third field goal (TEN 31): Only 3rd down was the overturned Julio Jones touchdown.
  • Titans’ first touchdown (TEN 20): Only 3rd down was a 3rd and 1 at their own 40, which was easily converted by Tannehill.
  • Titans’ second touchdown (OWN 25): No 3rd down. Two-play drive.
  • Titans’ third touchdown (TEN 32): Only 3rd down was 3rd and 1 at Seattle’s 5, which Henry ran for 4 yards.
  • Titans’ winning field goal (SEA 39): Only 3rd down was just to get Randy Bullock a shorter field goal.

This doesn’t even include when the Titans started from their own 8 and didn’t have a 3rd down until they were already well in Seattle territory. Randy Bullock missed a field goal to end the drive.

I think when healthy the Titans have a damn good offense if not a great one. But that’s the problem. Seattle fattened up its defensive record towards the end of last season playing a slew of bad quarterbacks. This was the first real test of the supposedly new and improved Seahawks defense and they were absurdly bad, sloppy, and undisciplined while playing with a lead for most of the game. And while I love Bryan Mone, there is no damn way his absence led to this much unraveling.

There’s still a lot of season left and literally more than ever before. They’re 1-1 and not 0-2... it just stings that they aren’t 2-0 when they had a 14-point 4th quarter lead. But Sunday’s loss is exactly why I am not confident that the Seahawks will win the NFC West. This defense is too talented to be this underwhelming and if they don’t start performing better against quality offenses — Minnesota and the Los Angeles Rams are just around the corner — then there will be real reason to worry about the direction of this team.