Heaps: Recipe for Seahawks defensive line’s success on display in Week 1

Sep 14, 2021, 11:58 AM
Seahawks Carlos Dunlap...
Colts QB Carson Wentz is pressured by Seahawks defensive end Carlos Dunlap during the second half Sunday. (AP Photo/AJ Mast)
(AP Photo/AJ Mast)

The Seahawks’ 28-16 win over the Indianapolis Colts to kick off 2021 saw not only star quarterback Russell Wilson and the Seattle offense take off under new offensive coordinator Shane Waldron, but also a great start for the defense after the Seahawks struggled on that side of the ball in the first half of 2020.

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In all of 2019 and for the first part of 2020, the Seahawks had a lot of trouble when it came to pressuring opposing quarterbacks. In 2019, the team was near the bottom of the league in sacks with just 28, and that trend continued at the beginning of 2020.

Seattle’s pass rush came alive late in 2020, however, and the Seahawks wound up finishing seventh in the NFL in sacks with 46.

This offseason, the Seahawks focused on improving the pass rush’s depth by re-signing Carlos Dunlap and Benson Mayowa while also adding Kerry Hyder Jr. and extending safety Jamal Adams with a record-setting new deal.

The early results are good, with Seattle recording three sacks (four if you include Dunlap’s sack on a two-point conversion attempt) and 10 quarterback hits of Colts quarterback Carson Wentz.

On Monday, former NFL quarterback Jake Heaps raved about the pass rush on 710 ESPN Seattle’s Jake and Stacy, saying that unit stood out the most on the defensive side of the ball for the Seahawks.

“How can you not point to the defensive line and the job that they did pretty much all game long?” Heaps said. “There was a spurt there when Carson Wentz was feeling comfortable. You look at the first half and he had 11 completions in a row at one point in time. But after that he was uncomfortable, and that was forced on him by the Seattle Seahawks defensive line.”

Heaps pointed not just to the 10 quarterback hits the Seahawks tallied but the quality of quarterback hits as key for Seattle’s defense turning in a great outing in Indianapolis.

“It wasn’t just, ‘We knocked (Wentz) down slightly.’ They were hard hits that he felt every single time,” Heaps said. “They were able to get three sacks but it felt like a heck of a lot more.”

What was especially big, Heaps said, was that every member of the defensive line performed well and no one player was a clear star.

“Overall there isn’t one guy on that defensive line who you look at and say, ‘Man, this is the guy, this is the individual that we are counting on,'” Heaps said. “This was a group effort and this is going to be a group effort all year long. It was great to see pretty much everybody contribute to the party and they are going to need it if they are going to be successful the rest of this season.”

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

Follow Brandon Gustafson on Twitter.

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