Huard: Seahawks’ biggest concern going into Week 1 is stopping the run
The big news coming out of the last weekend before the Seahawks begin the 2020 season isn’t something Seattle did, but rather what it did not do.
That would be not signing Jadeveon Clowney, the star pass rusher and run defender who opted to join the Tennessee Titans instead of returning to the Seahawks for a second year in Pete Carroll and Ken Norton Jr.’s defense.
Brock Huard, a former Seahawks quarterback who is preparing for his first week as an NFL on FOX color commentator, said Monday that factors into his biggest fear for the Seahawks going into their Week 1 matchup with the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday.
“How are they going to stop the run?” asked Huard, who also co-hosts the Brock and Salk podcast for 710 ESPN Seattle, during a visit with Danny and Gallant. “A group that gave up nearly five yards a rush a season ago – with Jadeveon Clowney as one of the best edge run defenders – how are they going to stop the run with Jarran (Reed), Poona (Ford), (Bryan) Mone and the rest of the crew on that defensive line?”
It’s not just Seattle’s personnel that has Huard concerned about the Seahawks’ chances against the Falcons, either. Seattle is plenty familar with running back Todd Gurley, who joined Atlanta in the offseason, and Gurley has had more success running against the Seahawks than any other team in his time with his previous team, the Los Angeles Rams.
“Kind of like Mike Trout to the Mariners, Todd Gurley is to the Seahawks,” Huard said. “Nine games, 11 rushing touchdowns – that’s three more than Gurley has against anybody else in the league. Nearly 700 rushing yards, that’s more than he’s had against anybody in the league. And you’re going to get him as fresh as possible? Stopping the run in Atlanta in six days is my biggest fear.”
Danny O’Neil pointed out that Gurley’s overall production has fallen in recent years while injury problems have mounted, saying Gurley has been a “profoundly different player” than in his first four years in the NFL. Huard had an answer to that, however.
“Not a guy who’s going to scare you for 16 weeks, you’re absolutely right. If you’re the Falcons, (you hope) he can play 10 games for you at a high level and you can somehow keep him fresh for a push into December. But to not have the wear and tear (after the) offseason, to not have the wear and tear of any preseason – he’s a guy that has a problematic knee, but if you’re going to get the best version of him and the hungriest version of him, it’s going to be Week 1 in his own building and with an offensive line that I think is suited to run right at ’em (with) play-action right behind it.”
With Matt Ryan at quarterback and a talented group of wide receivers led by Julio Jones, Atlanta’s offense has plenty more to deal with than just Gurley, as Paul Gallant noted in the discussion. But the state of the Seahawks’ defensive line, more than knowing a talented but new-look secondary will be tested, is on the top of Huard’s mind.
“As you just look on paper and compare it to everybody in the NFL, is there any way you can argue that it’s not one of the bottom 10, bottom five defensive lines going into the season?” Huard said. “(The Seahawks) can totally change that perception and they believe in their group more than anybody on the outside does. But at least on paper going in, that’s a group that struggles. To your point, that’s a recipe for a veteran quarterback, a group that’s going to run it and play-action it, and then have some dynamic dudes on the outside.
“It’s going to be a good challenge for this defense right out of the gate.”
You can hear the full Blue 42 segment featuring Huard in the podcast at this link or in the player below.