Clayton: Seahawks revive pass rush but secondary is now the problem

Nov 9, 2020, 4:17 PM

Seahawks Quinton Dunbar...

The Seahawks gave up 44 points mostly because of its issues defending the pass. (Getty)


What a switch. Entering the season, the Seahawks rightfully worried about their pass rush.

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They had only 28 sacks last year and they weren’t able to re-sign Jadeveon Clowney. They hoped to get by with Benson Mayowa and Bruce Irvin rushing form the Leo defensive end spot and five-techniques L.J. Collier and Rasheem Green adding pressure. In six games, the Seahawks had only nine sacks, which would put them on a path toward just 24 sacks this season.

The other thought was the Seahawks were loaded in the secondary. This wasn’t going to be the Legion of Boom, but cornerbacks Shaquill Griffin and Quinton Dunbar and safeties Jamal Adams and Quandre Diggs each had the potential to be Pro Bowl talents.

As the Seahawks reach midseason, the secondary has become the primary problem while the defensive pass rush has made a turn and gotten better. The Seahawks have 10 sacks in the past two weeks and have 19 for the season. Carlos Dunlap added a presence at the Leo. He had a sack and three tackles for loss in Sunday’s 44-34 loss in Buffalo. His pressure opened up the middle so Jarran Reed had 2 1/2 sacks. You have to go back to 2018 to see when that last happened, which was when Reed worked off the outside rush of Frank Clark.

But the secondary was horrible Sunday. Josh Allen of the Bills came out throwing and wouldn’t stop. He dropped back to pass in 12 of his first 13 plays and came up with touchdown drives of 45 and 72 yards. For the game, he completed 31 of 38 passes for 415 yards and three touchdowns.

Dunbar, fighting through a knee injury, gave up too much space for receivers to be wide open. Adams brought back his blitzing and play-making ability but he struggled in coverage. The secondary, which didn’t have Griffin or nickel cornerback Ugo Amadi, was surprisingly thin. They were so thin they let Dunbar play longer than he should because the only two remaining corners – Linden Stephens and Jayson Stanley – had no game experience.

Pete Carroll thinks things will get better, but you have to wonder how quickly.

Injuries are not only keeping cornerbacks and safeties out of games but preventing quality work to get done in practice. There is no word that Griffin and Amadi are going to available this week. Dunbar has to be a question mark. What makes this more difficult is the Seahawks’ most important games – at the Los Angeles Rams and at home against the Arizona Cardinals – come in a 10-day period.

If the Seahawks can win those games, they should run away with the NFC West. Their one break is that the Miami Dolphins have given them a one-game lead in the division. The Dolphins, who lost to Seattle, have beaten the Rams, Cardinals and 49ers.

Here is the scariest number. The Seahawks are now giving up 362.1 yards per game in the air. That’s right: 362.1. Things have to tighten up.

What’s becoming clear is that the Seahawks can Let Russ Cook on offense, but their chances of going to the Super Bowl with a defense this bad will be cooked if things don’t get fixed.

What is emerging is that the Seahawks are similar to the 2018 Kansas City Chiefs. Patrick Mahomes won the MVP and threw 50 touchdown passes. Russell Wilson is having an MVP season and could top the 50-touchdown mark. But that Chiefs defense wasn’t good enough to get past the AFC Championship and into the Super Bowl.

You would think the talent is there. Adding Dunlap gives the Seahawks five defensive players who have gone to the Pro Bowl. In the second half of the season, the Seahawks have to improve the defense.

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Clayton: Seahawks revive pass rush but secondary is now the problem