When the NFL instituted new rules on illegal contact for defensive backs this offseason, many considered the moves a response to the physical play of Seattle’s secondary.
The Seahawks have complied, coach Pete Carroll said Wednesday night, but it hasn’t worked out well for the defending Super Bowl champions, who visit the Carolina Panthers on Sunday.
Seattle was by far the No. 1 pass defense last season, but through six games they sit 16th in the NFL. Last year they allowed 172 passing yards per game. This year they’re allowing 239.
“We said from the start of it we figured if the rules come in, there might be some kind of an indication that they were directed at us. We’re just going to do right by the rules,” Carroll said. “So, we’ve worked hard to do that, which we have done. I don’t think it has anything to do with anything because we’re playing the same way that we have in the past. We haven’t changed techniques at all, just our awareness of what is allowed has just been heightened.”
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Carolina Panthers backup quarterback Derek Anderson said it wasn’t just the Seahawks who forced rules change. At least four or five other teams, including the Bengals, were too aggressive, Anderson said.
“The holding was getting ridiculous,” Anderson said. “And (the league) knew it. It was getting to the point where they were letting guys pull you back and it was causing picks, where it was an advantage to the defense.”
Some of Seattle’s struggles have to do with Seattle’s struggles to get consistent pressure on opposing quarterbacks this season. But Carroll points to another reason why the Seahawks (3-3) don’t look like the team that throttled the Broncos in February’s Super Bowl.
“At this time last year we had 17 or so turnovers. We’re way behind schedule on that,” said Carroll, whose team has five takeaways. “For the most part, we’re doing a lot of the other things. We play the running game OK and we’re not allowing a lot of yards rushing. The passing game has not been as sharp on defense and those turnovers are so crucial and make such a difference in the game.
“Without those turnovers and the big plays that come out of that, it makes the margins so much slimmer. We’ve had some close games. We’ve been in every one of them. We could have won all of our games and we would be talking much different. But we still would be focused on the fact that we’re not getting the football away from our opponents like we have in the past.”