At 2-10, the Seattle Seahawks have finally shown a crack in the foundation.
After dropping a 34-9 decision to the Dallas Cowboys on Thanksgiving, several defensive players questioned the schemes of defensive coordinator John Marshall, who came out against Tony Romo in a zone and did nothing to offer additional pressure.
Not until the second quarter did Marshall begin to send blitzes, as which time Romo was bothered and did not achieve as much success. But by that time, the Seahawks were down 24-3 and there was nothing they could do to get back in the game.
"Pressure busts pipes; that is anybody," linebacker Julian Peterson said. "I don't care what kind of quarterback you got back there. If you bring heat, obviously it is a 50-50 chance that they pick it up and they got one-on-ones and they got the opportunity to make the big play. But if they don't pick it up, it is big plays for us. So it is hit or miss. That is one of my strengths. We got good team speed, so we can do that."
It was a perplexing decision by Marshall to come out in a zone -- which was exploited by tight end Jason Witten to the tune of nine catches for 115 yards -- because the Seahawks had done the same thing against Arizona two weeks ago and it failed then, too. But after pressuring Kurt Warner in the second half, it gave them a chance to win that game.
"The times that (Romo) was sliding in and getting an open throw, we were in a zone," safety Deon Grant said. "When we had him man to man, we were in a lockdown. But when we were in a zone, he was finding openings and making it happen."
All 11 starters returned to this defense, but it has been disappointing all season long, to the point that coach Mike Holmgren - who is retiring after the season - said something needs to be altered once Jim Mora takes over.
"It's a little puzzling," Holmgren said. "We haven't generated turnovers and we haven't seemed to get the pass rush going like we have in the past. I think we have to take a hard look at that side of the ball. And maybe changes are necessary next year."
Grant acknowledges that changes are likely. But he didn't think they were warranted because he doesn't feel the players have been utilized correctly.
"I think with our defense this year, we knew what we had coming back and we didn't know how to play to our strengths," Grant said. "And we are still figuring out what is our strength. Some of the players know what the strength is. Some of the coaches know what the strength is. We just haven't put it together.
"I will let them upstairs handle (the personnel decisions). But I know if we play to our strength we will kill any offense out there."