Bumpus: Seahawks’ defense’s key task is containing rushing leader Dalvin Cook
Through the first four weeks of the 2020 season, the Seahawks’ defense is on opposite sides of the spectrum when it comes to their defense.
Seattle has allowed the most passing yards this season with 1,604, which is 238 yards more than the next closest team. The run defense, however, has been very good, allowing just 303 rushing yards – third-best in the league – through the Seahawks’ first four games. Seattle’s opponents are also gaining just 3.4 yards per carry, which is also third-best in the NFL.
But can the Seahawks continue to stop the run at a high level in Week 5 against the Vikings, who boast a top-five rushing offense? Former NFL wide receiver Michael Bumpus told 710 ESPN Seattle’s Danny and Gallant that that is the most intriguing matchup when these two teams face off on Sunday Night Football.
“Say what you want about the defense, the one constant about the Seahawks’ defense is that they haven’t let a starting running back rush for over 100 yards, right?” Bumpus said, noting that Seattle had great success against starting running backs like Ezekiel Elliott of the Cowboys, a perennial All-Pro, among other notable backs. But this week, they’re facing the most successful running back in the NFL as far as 2020 statistics are concerned.
“Now they face Dalvin Cook, the guy who’s leading the league in rushing yards with 424 (and leading the NFL in rushing touchdowns with six),” Bumpus said. “He makes people miss. I think he has like 21 forced missed tackles. If they cannot contain Dalvin Cook, it’s going to be rough because you know they’re going to give up a bunch of pass yards.”
Cook is what makes the Vikings’ offense go, even though Minnesota has Pro Bowler Adam Thielen and talented rookie Adam Thielen catching passes from Pro Bowl quarterback Kirk Cousins. The Vikings are one of just five teams that have run the football more than they’ve passed it in 2020 per TeamRankings.com, and Cook has over 66% of Minnesota’s rushing attempts and is averaging 5.7 yards per carry.
So it will be strength versus strength when the Seahawks and Vikings play, with Cook going up against one of the league’s best run-stopping groups.
“The constant has always been that run game. You look at the Minnesota Vikings and you’ve got to focus on that run game and if they can contain Dalvin Cook,” Bumpus said. “Now what does that look like? Can he go for 100 (yards) but not have a couple touchdowns? I don’t know. Containment looks a little different week by week, but I’m going to look at that matchup.”
Most would point to the defensive line as the key group when it comes to stopping opposing running backs, but Bumpus said Seattle’s ability to keep Cook in check will fall on starting linebackers Bobby Wagner, who is fifth in the NFL in tackles entering Week 5, and K.J. Wright.
“They’ve been consistent all year. This is the game where they’re going to be needed the most,” Bumpus said. “Bobby needs another 12 to 14 tackles. K.J. needs to blow up a screen. It’s all about that box. Can they contain Dalvin Cook? We’ll see what happens.”
Listen to the conversation at this link or in the player below.