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Heaps: Seahawks have a new role for Poona Ford that he’ll excel in

Seahawks DT Poona Ford set career-highs in most categories last season. (Getty)

When the Seahawks released defensive tackle Jarran Reed, it understandably created some concern. Reed has been a solid player in a key role for Seattle since he was drafted in 2016 out of Alabama.

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Former Seahawks quarterback Jake Heaps, co-host of 710 ESPN Seattle’s Jake and Stacy, sees what the team is doing, however – and he said it makes a lot of sense.

A few weeks prior to Reed’s release, the Seahawks agreed on a two-year contract extension with fellow defensive tackle Poona Ford, who was scheduled to be a restricted free agent. Seattle avoided that with the extension, and Heaps believes the Seahawks saw enough from Ford in 2020, his third year as a pro, to believe he can take over Reed’s role.

“The player that has to step up into a new role, a role that I think he’s going to embrace and excel very, very well in, is Poona Ford,” Heaps said Tuesday.

Ford has mainly played the run-stuffing 1-technique position for Seattle, which is situated fairly center in the defensive line and is as close to a traditional nose tackle as there is in the Seahawks’ typical “4-3 under” defensive alignment. Reed, meanwhile, was the 3-technique, which is the next spot over to the right of the 1-technique.

Heaps said Ford showed in limited opportunities last season that he can handle the 3-technique.

“He got to play a little bit of 3-technique last year and I think he really excelled at it, hence the reason why the Seahawks wanted to get him a two-year extension rather than just a one-year restricted free-agent tender and have to go down this road again (next year),” Heaps said. “They’re going to ask him to play a role that I think Jarran Reed did very, very well.”

Ford, who joined Seattle in 2018 as an undrafted free agent out of Texas, had a strong 2020 season with career-highs in sacks (two), tackles (40), tackles for loss (eight), quarterback hits (nine) and games (16, all starts). And at 5 foot 11 and 310 pounds, the 25 year old isn’t the kind of player opposing teams see all that much of.

“Last year he really, really made a big jump in improvement from his first two seasons as a Seahawk, so I’m really excited about Poona Ford, what he can do,” Heaps said. “As (former Seahawks center) Justin Britt always said, he has this God-given leverage with his unique height, his long arms. I think he can really be disruptive, but he’s going to have to step up in a big way now for the Seahawks now that they’re asking him to be their starting 3-technique.”

You can hear Heaps and co-host Stacy Rost answer four football questions at 12:15 p.m. during the Four-Down Territory segment of every episode of Jake and Stacy, with podcasts available here at 3 p.m.

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Jake & Stacy