Rost: Seahawks’ defense is a far cry from last time Seattle was 4-0, but Week 4 was a step forward

Oct 4, 2020, 5:04 PM
Seahawks Shaquill Griffin...
Shaquill Griffin had one of the Seahawks' two interceptions in Sunday's win over Miami. (Getty)

The 2013 and 2020 Seahawks are the only two teams in franchise history to start a season 4-0, but when it comes to on-field trends, there’s little these two squads share outside of that rare feat.

Recap: Hawks beat Miami | 4-0 record no mirage | 710 reactsQuick Hits

Seven years ago, a 25-year-old Russell Wilson was quickly proving he was special, but he played second fiddle to a defense that is widely regarded as one of the best in NFL history. Wilson had six touchdowns to three interceptions in the first four weeks, but he didn’t need much more than that when the defense had combined for 13 turnovers and allowed just 1,201 net yards (300.3 per game) and 47 points.

This year’s defense is a far cry from 2013. The Seahawks have allowed a league-high 1,907 yards from opposing offenses (476.8 per game), six turnovers and 109 points. However, with Wilson boasting 16 touchdowns to two interceptions over four weeks and the Seahawks trailing only Green Bay in points per game, they don’t have to be the 2013 defense.

But if they want to get back to a championship – and they do – they must be better than they’ve been so far.

So pay credit where it’s due, because the Seahawks’ defense did take a step forward in Sunday’s 31-23 win over Miami.

The team has been focused on eliminating explosive plays from opposing offenses – something Seattle defines as a pass of 16 or more yards, or a run of 12 or more yards. Against Dallas they allowed 10. They trimmed that by two against Miami and avoided getting beat deep. While Dallas’ four biggest plays were each for 40 yards or more, Miami’s longest play all day was 26 yards.

Allowing 415 net yards from an opposing offense isn’t an eye-popping stat but it is Seattle’s best performance so far. Most impressively, though, the Seahawks’ defense held Ryan Fitzpatrick and the Dolphins offense to a single touchdown (and zero passing touchdowns).

“You saw in the past (three weeks) we would get up and we would get conservative, we would get soft,” linebacker K.J. Wright said postgame. “We just made sure we stayed aggressive.”

Cornerback Shaquill Griffin, who intercepted Fitzpatrick late in the fourth quarter, said linebacker Bobby Wagner reminded the defense to stay aggressive even though they were up two scores late.

“We’re definitely not where we want to be at yet,” Griffin said. “But I feel like we’re making progress.”

Wright was asked about Wagner’s message and echoed his sentiment.

“We’ve got to make sure that we get more aggressive when we get up (on an opponent),” Wright said. “Our mentality has got to get even more hungry. And we can’t get conservative, we can’t just give up big plays. That’s what we were struggling with in those first few games. But I think we’ve got the understanding that when we’re up, we’ve got to stay up, and guys responded and we got it done today.”

It’s worth noting Seattle was playing without several key starters. Linebacker Cody Barton, cornerback Tre Flowers, and safety Ryan Neal filled in for Jordyn Brooks, Jamal Adams, and Quinton Dunbar, respectively. Neal recorded Seattle’s first interception of the day and his second in as many games.

Seattle will have a chance to continue their development on defense next week against a struggling Minnesota Vikings offense.

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