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Carroll: Seahawks should be ‘really improved on defense’ after offseason moves

Seahawks HC Pete Carroll is optimistic the defense will be much improved in 2020. (Getty)

Unlike nearly every year of the Pete Carroll era in Seattle, the Seahawks had a poor defense in 2019. Not only was the defense below average, aside from ranking among the league’s best in turnovers and turnover differential, the defense was among the NFL’s worst against the run and pass and gave up a ton of yards and points as well.

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The problems were all over the board, as the defensive line failed to stop run plays or get consistent pressure on opposing quarterbacks, the team’s three linebackers sometimes struggled in coverage and couldn’t make splash plays against the run due to lack of penetration by the defensive line, and the secondary gave up regular yardage against opposing receivers and tight ends.

The Seahawks haven’t, at this moment, added a star player on that side of the ball this offseason, but Seattle did address many defensive needs in the draft and free agency, especially on the defensive line. Head coach Pete Carroll told 710 ESPN Seattle’s John Clayton that as far as rushing the quarterback goes, he thinks the team is in a better spot than last year.

“You can see we certainly went after the issues. It didn’t work out right and (defensive end) Ziggy (Ansah) wasn’t able to get to his true form at any time last year because of his shoulder and all that,” he said. “We did not get the production on the edge that we wanted, so we went and addressed it. Getting Bruce Irvin in the program was really important for us because Bruce can play the SAM (linebacker) spot and be the Leo (edge rusher) – he’s done both – so that gave us a sense of security that we had some flexibility from the start, but then to get Benson Mayowa to come in, who had a very solid year with (Oakland with 7 sacks), he’s played the position, the Leo spot, and then in the draft, we get two guys who we really liked and are really pass rush-oriented guys that can help us speed-wise and in the rotations.”

Irvin, the Seahawks’ 2012 first-round pick, had 8.5 sacks in 13 games for the Carolina Panthers last year. Adding him with Mayowa, whose 7 sacks came as a rotational rusher for Oakland (he played less than 30% of the Raiders’ snaps) along with second-round pick Darrell Taylor and fifth-round pick Alton Robinson adds some much needed talent and depth to the Seahawks’ pass rush.

Though the Seahawks have a deep room at linebacker and used their first-round pick on Jordyn Brooks, Irvin figures to see time outside due to his familiarity with Seattle’s system and his ability to play that SAM spot.

“Bruce is going to settle in at the SAM position for us, which is great,” Carroll said. “He knows how to do it, he’s really well equipped and he can be a third down and nickel rusher. So we’ll have a good rotation and we should be much improved in that regard.”

Carroll said the team is “really excited” about Brooks, who starred at Texas Tech and was one of the draft’s fastest linebackers. He may have an uphill battle to see playing time as a rookie due to the amount of linebackers on the team who have experience in the system, like Bobby Wagner, K.J. Wright, Irvin, and 2019 rookies Cody Barton and Ben Burr-Kirven. Another factor is the team hasn’t been able to see him practice in person due to restrictions with COVID-19, though training camp is scheduled to start in a few weeks.

“We think (Brooks is) going to be a fantastic addition to us,” Carroll said. “We’ll find out how it goes. It’s going to take a little bit of time. We haven’t been on the field for a step yet, so we won’t know until we get out there.”

But Brooks has impressed Carroll and the staff in the virtual offseason thus far.

“Everything that he’s done and how he’s demonstrated his learning ability and taken to the system and all shows us that he should be ready to contribute and that just makes us competitively better, and that’s the whole idea,” Carroll said.

The secondary, which is a big point of emphasis for Carroll, a former college safety who started his coaching career as a defensive backs coach, told Clayton that a player that could make a bigger impact for Seattle in 2020 than he did in 2019 is safety Marquise Blair, who was a second-round pick out of Utah last year.

“The competition should be up and Marquise Blair coming together for us physically to hit camp with all the background learning should be a factor for us out of last year’s draft and away we go,” Carroll said. “We’re really pumped about it, John … I don’t see anything stopping us from being really improved on defense and I’m excited about what’s going on on offense.”

You can listen to Carroll’s full conversation on the Seahawks and the offseason to date at this link or in the player below.

Follow 710 ESPN Seattle’s John Clayton on Twitter.

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