Heaps: Seahawks’ CB room makes pass rush especially critical in 2021

Aug 27, 2021, 2:54 PM
Seahawks Jamal Adams, Carlos Dunlap...
Jamal Adams and Carlos Dunlap are the Seahawks' best pass rushers. (Getty)

The Seahawks’ defense had two very different stretches in 2020, starting the season as arguably the worst defense in the NFL before finishing strong over the second half of the year.

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Now in 2021, that group will look to play more like it did in the second half rather than the first.

A big reason for the defense’s turnaround was an improvement at pass rush, which was a glaring weakness in 2019 and the first part of 2020. After struggling to pressure opposing quarterbacks early in the year, the Seahawks wound up finishing seventh in the NFL in sacks, with All-Pro safety Jamal Adams leading the team with 9.5.

Former NFL quarterback Jake Heaps thinks that the Seahawks’ pass rush will be very important to the defense’s success – or lack thereof – this year, not just because having a potent pass rush is important, but because of a key area of weakness on that side of the football. He explained why on Friday’s edition of 710 ESPN Seattle’s Jake and Stacy.

“What has to happen is you have great pass rush,” Heaps said when asked what has to happen for Seattle’s defense to be successful in 2021. “You have to be able to pressure the quarterback. Why? Why does that have to happen? One, that’s the name of the game in football in general, but when we’re talking about the cornerback position in particular, you’re looking at a group that’s not really standing out. You don’t love how the competition is playing (out).”

The Seahawks lost starters Shaquill Griffin and Quinton Dunbar in free agency and while D.J. Reed showed in 2020 he’s a capable starting cornerback, the rest of that group with Ahkello Witherspoon, Tre Flowers, Tre Brown and John Reid doesn’t inspire much confidence to many analysts and fans.

With cornerback being such a glaring weakness, Heaps thinks that puts more pressure on the defensive line to get after opposing quarterbacks.

“The best way you can help a struggling group, or a group that’s not at it’s best, is by speeding up the clock of the opposing quarterback and getting the ball out of their hands and forcing them to make mistakes down the field where your secondary can capitalize,” he said. “That is why they need to be able to apply consistent pressure on the quarterback. You want the offense and quarterback thinking every single week against the Seattle Seahawks that they better get that ball out of their hands or they are going to get hit.”

Heaps said that Seattle’s offseason approach, which saw the team re-sign Carlos Dunlap and Benson Mayowa while adding Kerry Hyder Jr. to the mix, shows that the Seahawks are making it a point to get after the quarterback in 2021.

“That has to happen for this defense to be successful this year,” Heaps said.

Listen to the full second hour of Friday’s Jake and Stacy at this link or in the player below.

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