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Ken Norton Jr and the destruction of something good

Seattle Seahawks v Philadelphia Eagles Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

Without editorializing, below are a series of tweets intended to illustrate just how bad the Seattle Seahawks defense has been.

As John Gilbert pointed out this week, the Seahawks’ offense has been a top ten unit through three games. The sad fact of the matter is this: Seattle may have really found an outstanding coordinator in Shane Waldron, but at this point we really have no idea, and it isn’t for lack of sample size. Rather, Waldron has spent the last two weeks calling plays with his back against the wall, knowing full well that if the offense doesn’t score, they are going to lose. And even if they do score, they still might lose. This is not sustainable football; a team cannot win games consistently with a defense that has looked like this for the last six quarters of play:

  • Touchdown (8 plays, 80 yards)
  • Missed FG (12 plays, 66 yards)
  • Touchdown (2 plays, 75 yards)
  • TO on downs (10 plays, 53 yards)
  • Touchdown (12 plays, 68 yards)
  • Punt (5 plays, 16 yards)
  • Field Goal — OT (5 plays, 21 yards)
  • Touchdown (7 plays, 70 yards)
  • Punt (3 plays, 3 yards)
  • Touchdown (9 plays, 85 yards)
  • Touchdown (12 plays, 66 yards)
  • Field Goal (16 plays, 50 yards)
  • Field Goal (11 plays, 70 yards)
  • Field Goal (12 plays, 88 yards)
  • Punt (game was well over by this point)

Seattle has allowed a touchdown on six of fifteen drives, and have allowed a score on ten of fifteen. If you take out the final punt (which was with time nearly expired in a two-score game against the Vikings), things look even worse. If you consider that the defense had little hand in causing Randy Bullock to miss a 44 yard field goal attempt in Week 2, things get even shakier. On fourteen meaningful drives, Seattle has forced two punts and one turnover on downs. All eleven remaining drives have either ended in points, or a legitimate attempt at points.

I could go on, and on, and on, about the merits of firing Ken Norton, but Mookie already established this pretty firmly following Sunday’s disasterpiece against a team and a quarterback that Seattle has owned for damn near a decade. To find the last time Kirk Cousins beat Russell Wilson, you have to go back to 2017 when he was with the Washington Football Team, a game in which the Seahawks offense scored no touchdowns until the 4th quarter. Until now, this was his only victory of Russ in five matchups. Make that two out of six now.

And I’m all for rivalries, shootouts, and showdowns. Football is much more fun with them. But this was none of those things. Statistically speaking, Seattle is getting their collective ass kicked not only by their opponents, but by their coach and defensive coordinator. Over the last two games, here is the statistical comparison between Seattle and their opponents:

  • Passing First Downs: 24 to 36
  • Third Down Efficiency: 7 of 20 to 15 of 28
  • Total Plays: 104 to 155
  • Time of Possession: 46:49 to 78:26

Seattle’s offense ran 52 plays in each of the last two games. You can say that third down efficiency and time of possession don’t matter, but the fact of the matter is this: these statistics help to fill out a picture that we have all seen unfolding on our screens for the last two weeks; Seattle’s offense is once again being asked to essentially play both sides of the ball, and unlike the start of last season, they aren’t getting the breaks and the big plays in the second half to keep them in it. I don’t think the solution is simply flipping the Time of Possession battle, as this team absolutely cannot afford to just sit back and play not to lose (in reality, no team can or should do this in 2021). But when the defense is allowing an average of 9 plays for 58 yards per possession over the last six quarters, something has to give.

What makes me particularly sad about this is that — until we get to see at least a replacement-level performance out of a defense that has talent at every position group — we really won’t know what kind of offense Shane Waldron is capable of running. But we do know one thing for certain: we know what kind of defense Ken Norton, Jr. is capable of running, and it is not one that can succeed in the NFL. I can’t guarantee that terminating his relationship with the Seahawks will fix their team this season. But I do know when enough is enough, and whatever shred of loyalty is still tying this team to their defensive coordinator needs to be excised. And if that “shred” is Pete Carroll, then so be it.