Huard: Why Seahawks’ ‘sound’ defensive performance is sustainable
Top to bottom, the Seahawks put together their best team performance of the season in a 28-21 win over the Arizona Cardinals on Thursday Night Football to move to 7-3 and the talk after the game has been centered around the defense.
The Seahawks entered the Week 11 contest allowing well over 450 yards per game, which put them on pace to allow the most yards in NFL history. Seattle still “leads” the NFL in yards allowed per game, but after giving up 315 total yards to a ferocious Cardinals offense, Seattle’s average yards per game decreased to 434.9.
How did the Seahawks put together that good of a performance on defense on a short week? And can that unit continue that level of play over the final six games of the regular season? Former NFL quarterback Brock Huard told Danny O’Neil and Paul Gallant of 710 ESPN Seattle’s Danny and Gallant that he believes it’s possible.
“I think it is a bit more sustainable,” he said. “It isn’t like the San Francisco game where you were kind of just feasting on (an injured) Jimmy Garoppolo, right? And it was (Bobby Wagner) with big play after big play and tackle for loss and sack. (This game against the Cardinals) really took everybody. And even with that, if Quandre Diggs doesn’t take that shot on (DeAndre Hopkins), who knows what that game looks like?”
Diggs was called for unnecessary roughness for hitting Hopkins high and late after a third-and-long incompletion. What would have been a three-and-out resulted in a long Cardinals touchdown drive and that was a big reason why it was a one-score game at the end. But even with that drive being sustained by penalties, Huard thinks overall, Ken Norton Jr.’s group had its best outing of the year even with starting cornerbacks Shaquill Griffin and Quinton Dunbar out with injuries and that that level and style of play can continue going forward.
“They just played more sound,” Huard said. “There were guys at least closer to receivers. They weren’t necessarily still playing the ball and you miss that ballhawking corner and maybe Shaquill Griffin, it looks like he should be back next week and he brings some more element, some more speed to that. But they kind of played their roles.”
The players who stood out the most to Huard, though, were on the defensive line, which isn’t something that’s been said about this defense very often since the start of 2019.
“(Carlos) Dunlap was a difference maker,” Huard said. “That was L.J. Collier’s best game as a Seahawk and he created a safety and scored a couple points and that was the takeaway they needed at that juncture of the game where it just felt like ‘can they take the ball away? Can they make an impactful play after two 80- or 90-yard drives by the Cardinals in the second half?’ And boom, they get the intentional grounding and L.J. Collier follows it up a tremendous rush on (former Seahawks guard J.R. Sweezy).”
Dunlap had two sacks and Collier had one and forced that late safety. A few weeks after the Seahawks have one pressure, no sacks and no QB hits on Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray, the defensive line was in his face quite a bit, which was a huge step forward for this defense as a whole.
“They were just much more sound, it looked like they did communicate a little bit better and man, when your front four can impact the quarterback and get in his face like they did last night, it wasn’t even the seven hits or three sacks, I think Bobby said it best: ‘Kyler felt us. He felt us tonight unlike a month ago’ and yeah, I do think that’s sustainable, especially against some of the opponents you’re going to play over the next month,” Huard said.