Huard: What the Seahawks must show over their next 4 games
The Seahawks are coming off a huge divisional win over the Arizona Cardinals and now entering their easiest stretch of the 2020 season, facing four teams who have combined for just nine wins through Week 11.
First up is a Monday Night Football matchup in Philadelphia against the Eagles, then Seattle will host both New York teams in back-to-back weeks before traveling to our nation’s capital to take on the Washington Football Team.
Many expect the Seahawks to sweep those four games before facing off with the Los Angeles Rams in Week 16. Currently, both the Rams and Seahawks are 7-3, but since Los Angeles beat Seattle in Week 10, the Rams technically are in first place in the NFC West. That Week 16 game likely will determine who wins the division.
With such a huge game just weeks away, what do the Seahawks need to show over these four games before their rematch with the Rams? Former NFL quarterback Brock Huard discussed his thoughts on the latest Brock and Salk Podcast for 710 ESPN Seattle. Unsurprisingly, he started with the unit that has been heavily scrutinized this year: Seattle’s defense.
“You can hopefully learn that this defense is not last in the league,” Huard said. “… That is a group that you hope can gain some significant confidence over the next four weeks.”
The Seahawks have seemingly turned a corner on defense over the last six quarters. In the second half against the Rams in Week 10, the defense allowed a touchdown on Los Angeles’ first drive after halftime before shutting out Los Angeles’ offense the rest of the way. Then in a short week, they held an explosive Cardinals offense to 21 points (a season-low for Seattle) and under 60 rushing yards.
Those two performances have helped the Seahawks in terms of total yards allowed. Before the game with the Cardinals, the Seahawks were on track to allow the most yards per game in NFL history, but that’s no longer the case after Week 11.
While the defense showed remarkable improvement during that timeframe, Huard said there are areas where the Seahawks must get better as well as continue to build on before taking on the Rams again.
“Get back to taking the ball away – (the Seahawks have) just one (takeaway) over the last three games,” Huard said. “Actually play together and have guys on the field together, communicating together, working together, folding in (defensive end) Carlos Dunlap into that crew that played their best game of the year by far (against the Cardinals).”
Dunlap had two of Seattle’s three sacks against Arizona, and that group was constantly causing problems for Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray as well as the running game.
“I don’t care that they had seven sacks in Buffalo, they actually impacted this game in the biggest moments and shut down the run and were a huge factor,” Huard said.
Under Pete Carroll, the Seahawks have historically been one of the best teams in the last two months of the year, but that hasn’t been the case the last few seasons. Huard believes that how much the defense grows over the next four weeks will determine how Seattle ends the season.
“What you can learn is those guys gaining confidence over the next few weeks so they’re ready to finish at the end of December, something they haven’t been (doing) the last couple years,” he said.
The other key for the Seahawks over this stretch? Health. In 2019, Seattle lost many key players late in the season, ultimately dropped the last two games going into the playoffs, then were knocked out of the playoffs in the divisional round by the Green Bay Packers.
“I think as significant as anything over the next six weeks is tell me what the starting lineup is Week 16 against the Rams,” Huard said. “Because if Chris Carson and (DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett) and (Russell Wilson) and Shaq Griffin and (Bobby Wagner) and (Jamal Adams) and Dunlap are a part of it, then you’re competing, I think, for the No. 1 seed in the NFC.”
Listen to the entire Brock and Salk Podcast at this link or in the player below.