How will Seahawks use Jordyn Brooks with Bruce Irvin out for season?
The Seahawks came out on top against the New England Patriots in a thrilling Sunday Night Football contest in Week 2, but defensively, the team took two major hits as defensive end/outside linebacker Bruce Irvin and nickel cornerback Marquise Blair are lost for the remainder of 2020 to ACL tears.
Second-year defensive back Ugo Amadi, who saw time at nickel cornerback in 2019, is expected to assume Blair’s role in the slot. How exactly the Seahawks will fill Irvin’s role remains to be seen.
Head coach Pete Carroll confirmed that 2020 first-round pick Jordyn Brooks will start at linebacker in Irvin’s absence starting in Week 3 against the Dallas Cowboys, but didn’t say whether Brooks would take Irvin’s strongside linebacker spot or the weakside linebacker spot instead.
If Brooks plays weakside linebacker, which is where he was practicing for most of the offseason, that would mean that K.J. Wright, the 10-year Seattle veteran, would likely slide over to the strongside spot.
Former NFL quarterback Brock Huard shared his thoughts on Brooks and the Seahawks’ linebacker situation with 710 ESPN Seattle’s Danny and Gallant Thursday morning, saying that he doesn’t think Brooks pushing Wright to a different position will happen.
“I don’t think K.J. is comfortable playing strongside linebacker and playing on the edge, so I don’t think you ask a guy to do something who through a decade has shown you it’s not what he loves to do,” Huard said. “He loves to play in space and scrape and finish tackles and has been one of the most prolific Seahawks in the franchise’s history at doing that.”
Huard threw out another suggestion for Brooks that may be unexpected depending on matchups.
“Maybe he in early downs plays a huge nickelback,” he said. “Marquise Blair was a huge nickel and now you could go even bigger at nickel if Dallas wants to come out in 11 personnel (one running back and one tight end) and really run it at you instead of (playing) Ugo Amadi out there.”
Huard also sees a situation where Brooks and another young linebacker split reps.
“Maybe it is Jordyn playing a little bit of strongside. Cody Barton is certainly going to get some strongside linebacker reps,” Huard said. “I think that’s why Pete’s coy is there are some different pieces to use based on how Dallas is going to attack them, but man, they’re going to need every single defender who is suited and booted on Sunday to go out there and hit and run.”
What about pass rush?
Irvin was the Seahawks’ starting strongside linebacker, but he also was one of Seattle’s top pass rushers along with Benson Mayowa as he would come down and play defensive end in certain packages and situations. How will the Seahawks replace Irvin’s pass-rush prowess?
“Jordyn Brooks may be rushing the passer in third-down situations,” Huard said.
But a fan favorite may make a return to the active roster from the Seahawks’ practice squad, Huard said.
“I think it would make sense to bring up Shaquem Griffin as a guy who can run and hit and play some linebacker as well and, more importantly, rush the quarterback as he did at the end of last year,” Huard said. “(He had) a pass rush rate, by the way, if you look at the numbers, (that) got home at times. He impacted and hit and harassed and got after (Eagles quarterback) Carson Wentz in the playoff game and some others.”
Listen to Huard’s full comments in the second hour of Thursday’s Danny and Gallant at this link or in the player below.