Moore: Seahawks are really pushing their luck in 2020 with this defense
When the season started, I think we thought the Seahawks’ secondary would be vastly improved with the additions of Jamal Adams and Quinton Dunbar and having free safety Quandre Diggs for 16 games instead of the five he played for Seattle last year. Shaquill Griffin was also coming off a season in which he was good enough to be a Pro Bowl alternate.
It wasn’t that much of a stretch to at least compare the new secondary to the Legion of Boom, but that seems comical now with the Seahawks giving up the most passing yardage in league history through three games.
Injuries aren’t helping – Dunbar missed last week’s game against Dallas and is likely to miss Sunday’s game in Miami too. Adams strained his groin in the second half of the Cowboys game and is also apt to miss the Miami game.
But even when they were at full strength, they coughed up yardage in huge chunks to Atlanta and New England. Good luck trying to figure it out. Even Pete Carroll said that sometimes it looks like they haven’t even been practicing.
So to me, coaching is to blame more than anything else, which is why I’m in favor of moving on from defensive coordinator Ken Norton. But maybe the secondary would be better with an improved pass rush. You’d think that would be the case. And if it is, you could argue that GM John Schneider should have done more than adding free agents Bruce Irvin and Benson Mayowa.
The thing is, I thought a supposedly improved secondary would lead to more coverage sacks this season, allowing pass rushers to turn QB hits from last year into sacks this year. That hasn’t happened. With five sacks in three games, the Seahawks are on a pace to have 27 sacks, one fewer than last year’s total.
If you’re looking for improvement in the defense along with everyone else, you’re basically “hoping” for things to happen. Like this week, maybe Shaquem Griffin gives the Seahawks a pass-rushing lift. Maybe Alton Robinson does too. Maybe Cody Barton takes over for the injured Irvin and Jordyn Brooks and never looks back, becoming a terror that upgrades the defense. Maybe they sign Damon “Snacks” Harrison next week to bolster the defensive tackle rotation.
And maybe Bobby Wagner plays up to his $18 million salary. Have you seen many splash plays from him in the first three games? I haven’t either. I’m probably too critical, especially given how solid his career has been, but when you make that much money, more is expected, and I know I’ve said this before, but I’ll say it again: Wagner’s playing at an $8 million level, not an $18 million level. That’s not to say he’s playing poorly.
But he’s the quarterback of the worst defense in the league. I understand there’s only so much one player can do, yet it’s still strange to think that a future Hall of Famer hasn’t done more to justify his contract and at least elevate the defense from terrible to halfway decent.
On the bright side, the run defense has gotten much better, though you have to wonder if it was more about the first three opponents just deciding to take what the Seahawks were giving them through the air than focusing on the run.
And you could praise the Seahawks for not giving Shaquill Griffin a contract extension in the offseason. He finally ended his 33-game streak without an interception by picking off Dak Prescott last Sunday, but he turned around and got beaten badly on a couple of long gainers on Dallas’ next drive.
I don’t know what to make of Griffin, do you? I keep hearing he’s a good cornerback and assume that he is since the Seahawks have stuck with him. But how good is he? Good enough to warrant a mega-deal like other starting cornerbacks are getting? Jalen Ramsey leads the pack, averaging $20 million a year, and on Thursday, Baltimore’s Marlon Humphrey got a five-year extension averaging $19.75 million a year.
I’m glad the Seahawks are letting Griffin test the free-agent market after the season. I’m assuming this to be the case because it would be a prohibitively high number if they chose to put a franchise tag on him.
I suppose I should focus more on the Seahawks’ explosive offense than the defense, but it’s the defense that might extinguish Super Bowl hopes. It’s a weird year watching an offense that could 16-0 with a better defense and a defense that could go 0-16 with a worse offense.
And as much as we want to celebrate the Seahawks being 3-0, they’re a play or two away from being 2-1 or even 1-2. We’re used to seeing tight games in the fourth quarter that usually end up being one-score wins, but the Seahawks are pushing their luck this year with their defense.
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