Why Seahawks’ rough start on defense isn’t as bad as it seems

Sep 23, 2021, 2:41 PM
Seahawks Julio Jones Bobby Wagner...
Julio Jones of the Tennessee Titans carries the ball after a catch against the Seahawks during the second quarter Sunday at Lumen Field. (Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)
(Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

Two weeks into the NFL season, the Seattle Seahawks’ defensive numbers are pretty rough.

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Seattle ranks 29th out of the 32 NFL teams in yards allowed per game (434) and second-to-last in average rushing yards allowed (162.5). To make matters worse, the offense of their opponent on Sunday, the Minnesota Vikings, ranks sixth in the league with 411 yards per game.

Of course, it’s unwise to make determinations on such a small sample as two games, and there’s plenty of reason to not write off the Seahawks’ defense just yet. John Clayton, a member of the writer’s wing of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, broke down why Wednesday during his daily segment on 710 ESPN Seattle’s Wyman and Bob.

“We’ll still getting a continued overreaction to the game on Sunday,” Clayton said, referring to the Seahawks’ 33-30 overtime loss to Tennessee Titans. “Take a look at the defensive numbers around the league. Baltimore’s right (near the bottom). Do you think Kansas City’s a good football team? They’re the two worst (defenses). The Rams were the No. 1 defense last year, and their numbers are down.”

The Baltimore Ravens, who are 30th this season at 448 yards allowed per game, went 11-5 in 2020 and were sixth-best in yards allowed, while Kansas City are dead-last now but made the Super Bowl last season. The Rams, meanwhile, have given up an average of 339 yards this season compared to 281.9 last year to lead the league.

“So much of this is a sorting out process that happens. It takes a little bit longer for everything to come together,” Clayton added.

He then posed a question to co-host Dave Wyman, a former Seahawks and Denver Broncos linebacker who now serves as color commentator for Seahawks Radio Network game broadcasts.

“Would you agree that when you played until really about five, six years ago, defenses start the season ahead of offenses?” Clayton asked Wyman, who agreed. “Not now. And the reason is the quarterbacks now are so mobile. … It also helps that penalties have increased because a lot of the penalties are going to be on defense, whether it’s going to be a defensive taunting rule, whether it’s going to be an illegal hit on the quarterback, whether it’s going to be a late hit, and then of course the interference rule. Those are all big plays that add chunk yards on offense.”

The part about penalties, which is something defenses typically adjust to a few games into the season, especially resonated with 710 ESPN Seattle’s resident linebacker.

“Definitely with the penalties. They have absolutely made it so difficult to play (defense),” Wyman said.

Listen to the full discussion and much more on the Seahawks and around the NFL in the podcast at this link or in the player below.

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