Wyman and Bob: What position should Seahawks’ top priority on defense be?
With Russell Wilson’s recent comments about being hit too much as well as the team hiring a new offensive coordinator, nearly all talk surrounding the Seahawks this offseason has been centered around Seattle’s offense.
With Wilson’s vocal displeasure about wanting better pass protection, there’s now an expectation that many of Seattle’s offseason resources will be spent on the offensive line and perhaps more weapons in the passing game in order to keep Wilson happy. But what about the other side of the ball?
The Seahawks’ defense had a strange 2020 season, to say the least. At the start of the year, the unit was on pace to allow the most passing yards of all-time and allowed 25 or more points in seven of the team’s first eight games. But over the second half of 2020, Seattle’s defense was statistically one of the NFL’s best, allowing an average of just 16 points per game while cutting down on total yards allowed.
The defense’s turnaround has been taken with a grain of salt, though, as the Seahawks really only faced one elite quarterback over the last eight weeks and at least three of those teams they played will have new starting quarterbacks next year.
The Seahawks have 24 players hitting unrestricted free agency, including a good amount of key defensive players. So what needs to be the priority for the Seahawks this offseason when it comes to adding to the defense? 710 ESPN Seattle’s Wyman and Bob shared their thoughts on Thursday.
“I look at it like I feel good about the safeties,” Bob Stelton said. “You’ve got to sign Jamal Adams and get him locked up, but I like who’s there with (Quandre Diggs) and Adams. The linebackers you feel good about, you’ve got guys there currently.”
Stelton thinks there’s room for improvement on the defensive line as well as at cornerback, however. Last offseason, the priority was improving the defensive line and pass rush, but after seeing Seattle allow so many yards through the air in 2020, Stelton thinks cornerback deserves the focus this offseason.
“You’ve got a lot of uncertainty there,” he said.
The Seahawks’ Week 1 starters at outside cornerback were Shaquill Griffin and Quinton Dunbar, both of whom are hitting unrestricted free agency. Griffin missed a few games during the season with a hamstring injury and Dunbar played in only six games because of a knee injury, so the Seahawks played Tre Flowers and D.J. Reed at outside cornerback quite a bit. Those two will both be back in 2021, but as of now, that’s all Seattle has at the position.
“I don’t feel good about the depth, I don’t know if we’ve overrated (Griffin) and you need to go in another direction,” Stelton said. “Dunbar I wasn’t impressed with at all … To me, the secondary, the cornerbacks, are the position on the defensive side I would address first.”
Stelton’s co-host, former NFL linebacker and current Seahawks Radio Network color commentator Dave Wyman, also thinks cornerback should sit atop Seattle’s offseason priorities list, especially since bad pass defense isn’t something new.
“They’re No. 25 in pass yards on average over the last three years,” he said. “… It’s the bottom quarter of the league. It’s terrible.”
Wyman understands the argument that a better pass rush could help with pass coverage and decreasing passing yards allowed, but based on what he’s seen, he doesn’t consider the pass rush that big of an issue.
“I think a lot of the not getting to the quarterback was because the ball was coming out so fast because they were playing so loose (in coverage),” he said. “Guys have to play tighter defense.”
The Seahawks finished seventh in the NFL in sacks with 46 but face key questions at pass rush with edge rushers Benson Mayowa and Bruce Irvin hitting unrestricted free agency. Additionally, defensive end Carlos Dunlap is set to make over $14 million, making him a potential salary cap casualty if the Seahawks don’t give him a contract extension in order to ease his 2021 cap hit. Wyman thinks if those three come back, Seattle’s pass rush should be in good shape.
When it comes to the cornerback position, 2019 Pro Bowler Griffin has been Seattle’s No. 1 player at the spot since 2018. Stelton questioned if people who follow the team overvalue Griffin, and Wyman thinks there’s a strong chance the young corner gets a big payday this offseason.
“I think what’s going to happen is he’s going to hit the market and wind up getting a contract. Good cover corners are hard to find,” Wyman said.
Despite the Seahawks’ poor results against the pass in recent years, Griffin has been seen as a bright spot. Wyman thinks the team hasn’t done Griffin many favors when it comes to maximizing his abilities, either.
“I feel like he trusts himself but the defense that they played last year and the year before that as well wasn’t one where he could exhibit (his potential) because they played him off (the line of scrimmage) quite a bit,” Wyman said.
Listen to the full discussion at this link or in the player below.