Over the last 11 games, the Seattle Seahawks have had the worst rushing defense in the NFL. Seattle gives up more yards per rush and more rushing yards per game. In Seattle's first four games of the season, the run defense seemed better than it was in 2022. That was a lie.
But is the run defense issue in Seattle a coaching problem, a personnel issue, or both? There is no reason to ask Seahawks defensive coordinator Clint Hurtt that question because he is not about to accept any blame for Seattle's poor play. The scheme isn't the issue, Hurtt says; the players just are not doing what they are told and not tackling well enough.
That begs the question of whether Seattle teaches tackling technique at all. NFL defensive players should have a good idea of how to tackle before they get into the league, but that should not mean that players do not continue to learn how to tackle. NFL offensive players are bigger, stronger, and faster than any other group of players people entering the league would have ever faced. Because of that the teaching of tackling technique does not cease in the NFL.
Seahawks DC Clint Hurtt deflects blame for Week 17 meltdown
But Clint Hurtt, who definitely deserves a chunk of the blame for how the Seahawks' defense has performed over the last two years, told the media on Thursday that what happened against the Steelers was due to poor tackling and had nothing to do with the scheme. Pittsburgh ran for 202 yards and 3 touchdowns in Week 17. Their running backs gained 197 yards on 40 carries. Seattle's tackling was awful, but that was not the only issue.
Plus, if the tackling was the only problem then that simply says the Seahawks are not good enough to stop good running teams and massive personnel changes need to be made. But Seattle did make personnel changes after last year - defensive linemen Al Woods, Poona Ford, and Quinton Jefferson did not return - and yet the run defense is just as bad as last season. The coaching staff is the throughline of the awfulness.
But Clint Hurtt does not see things that way. In the Seahawks press conference on Thursday, Hurtt said,
"Everything with the communication on the headset (during the game) with the coaches is we have to address pad level, we have to get down on the line of scrimmage, with the tackling guys have to get low...All of that is being said and constantly repeated. During the course of the game, it becomes frustrating when you constantly see that. It pisses you off...Really when it comes down to it a lot of this stuff is not necessarily maybe fit (or scheme) issues. Guys have to win one-on-one matchups. That's what run defense is, moving a man at his own will, getting off blocks and finishing plays."- Hurtt
Hurtt is not completely wrong, of course. A coaching staff can always make sure their players are in the right places and adjust to what other teams are trying to do, but if the players are not good enough then whatever a coaching staff says or schemes does not really matter. But Hurtt has to accept some of the blame because we've seen the same tendencies roll over from season to season the last two years.
If Clint Hurtt truly does not think he is a big part of the issue and that he needs to do a lot better then head coach Pete Carroll needs to replace him. It could be that just as the players might not physically be capable of tackling well, Clint Hurtt is not capable of being in charge of a defense.