The Seahawks play the Falcons in Atlanta on Sunday. It's a game the Seahawks are expected to win because they have a better record. The Seahawks have five wins and two losses. The Falcons are 1-6. But KNKX sports commentator Art Thiel told Morning Edition host Kirsten Kendrick the Seahawks have some glaring problems that they're trying to address.
'GHOST OF EARL THOMAS'
The Seahawks this week traded a fifth-round draft pick in 2020 for Detroit Lions starting safety Quandre Diggs and a seventh-round draft pick.
"I think what we're talking about here is the ghost of Earl Thomas coming back to haunt," Thiel said. "Diggs plays Earl Thomas' position. Earl was in town this last weekend with his new team the Baltimore Ravens and they beat the Seahawks 30-16.
"In that game, free safety Tedric Thompson, who's playing Earl's old position, gave up a 50-yard pass that set up the Ravens' first field goal.
"Coach Pete Carroll used a term that I've not heard him use before. He called it 'distasteful.' He didn't say that the sole reason that they made this trade was because of Thompson's error in defending that pass, but I do think that Thompson's problems at the position have been a part of the story for the Seahawks all year long."
Thiel noted the Seahawks have some injuries in the safety positions. Strong safety Bradley McDougald missed the last game with back problems and may miss Sunday's game. Another safety, Lano Hill, is out with an elbow problem.
"They do have a shortage of personnel back there," he said. "That's important. But it's also important to get somebody competent in terms of defending the run and the pass who could play multiple positions in case injuries crop up anywhere in the defensive secondary."
Thiel said this is just one of the problems with the Seahawks defense.
"They're giving up a lot of points and a lot of yards, at least relative to what we've come to expect from a Pete Carroll-coached defense," he said. "They're giving up 25 points a game, which is 24th in the NFL, so there are a lot of problems in the defense besides the secondary.
"Overall, there seems to be a vulnerability about this defense that we haven't seen in quite a while.
"It can improve because they're going to get injured players back. But the schedule is going to get more and more difficult as the season progresses so it's hard to see, right now, how the defense heals itself in time for better opponents."
Thiel said he would put "a very large asterisk" next to the Seahawks' 5-2 record.
"I think the Seahawks got lucky in the first half of the season," he said. "The 5-2 record is great but there were a couple of one-point wins, including one over the Rams when the field goal kicker missed the last-second field goal, to suggest that they are definitely vulnerable."
TOO DEPENDENT ON WILSON
"The biggest issue this team has is its overdependence on a great game from (quarterback) Russell Wilson," Thiel continued. "As we saw in the Ravens game, he had his first interception of the year, which shouldn't be an offense but it really left the Seahawks vulnerable.
"The rest of the team is not contributing as much to cover for a bad Wilson game, as we saw Sunday. So that's the imbalance that's going on here.
"Wilson is playing, I think, out of this world. He had a bad game. He's entitled to have a bad game. But when you've got vulnerabilities in the defense, it puts too much pressure on him.
"I think, overall, the Seahawks are going to have a hard time in the second half of the season."