Heaps: 3 areas where Seahawks can improve to make run at playoffs
The first half of the 2021 season didn’t go how the Seahawks expected it to.
After eight games, the Seahawks hit their bye week at 3-5, including a 1-2 record while without star quarterback Russell Wilson, who missed games due to injury for the first time in his 10-year NFL career. The five losses through eight games already exceeds the four regular season losses Seattle had all of last season when it went 12-4 and won the NFC West.
Former NFL quarterback Jake Heaps, like many, believes that the Seahawks can still make the playoffs this season by getting hot over their last nine games. If that’s to happen, though, he thinks Seattle must improve in three areas the team struggled in during its first eight games.
Third down conversions
Heaps started out with the offensive side of the ball, pointing to an area where the Seahawks have struggled the last few years.
“They have to be better on third down,” he said Tuesday during Jake and Stacy on 710 ESPN Seattle. “That is No. 1.”
Through nine weeks, the Seahawks rank 31st in the league in third-down conversions, converting just 31.33%. The only team worse? The 2-6 Jacksonville Jaguars. The Seahawks were 27th in the NFL last year in converting third downs at just 38.42%.
Rushing the passer
Since 2019, the Seahawks have struggled to consistently pressure and sack opposing quarterbacks. That’s been the case yet again in 2021.
“No. 2, defensively, you have to start rushing, having a better and more consistent pass rush,” Heaps said.
The Seahawks are currently tied for the third-fewest sacks in the NFL through Week 9 with just 14, and Darrell Taylor (four) and Rasheem Green (two) are the only Seattle players with multiple sacks. The three edge rushers the Seahawks paid this past offseason – Carlos Dunlap, Benson Mayowa and Kerry Hyder Jr. – have combined for just two sacks and safety Jamal Adams, who led Seattle with 9.5 sacks in 12 games a year ago, has no sacks.
Safety Quandre Diggs recorded his third interception of the year in Seattle’s Week 8 win over the Jaguars, and that pick made him the only player to record three or more interceptions in each of the last five seasons.
While Diggs is excelling at taking the ball away, the Seahawks as a team are not.
“You have to start creating turnovers,” Heaps said.
The Seahawks enter Week 10 tied for 23rd in turnovers with eight, and no Seahawk aside from Diggs has recorded an interception this season.
If those three things happen?
If the Seahawks are able to improve on third downs, in the pass rush and in taking the ball away, then what happens?
“If they can do those three things in the second half of the season, and they can be significantly better in those three phases, the Seattle Seahawks make the playoffs,” Heaps said. “The Seattle Seahawks are a team that everyone is talking about as, ‘Man, this might be the hottest team in the league.’ If they can do those three things, they are utilizing their talents to the best of their abilities, guys are coming alive, the energy in that locker room is is substantial … Right now their backs up against the wall and they need to win all but two games to finish this thing out to get to the playoffs. I think they make that happen and probably win more than that.”
Listen to the discussion at this link or in the player below.