How missing Jamal Adams has thrown Seahawks’ defense for a loop

Sep 30, 2022, 4:24 PM

Seahawks Jamal Adams...

Seahawks safety Jamal Adams is carted off the field at Lumen Field on Sept. 12, 2022. (Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

(Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

The Seahawks came into the 2022 season with a lot of new ideas for their defense under first-year defensive coordinator Clint Hurtt.

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The most obvious of those ideas was switching to a 3-4 front, and it’s been clear through the first three games of the season that the Seattle defense is still figuring things out in its new scheme.

Something former Seahawks linebacker K.J. Wright said during his weekly conversation with Seattle Sports’ Brock and Salk on Wednesday, however, may have shed light on why the transition for the defense hasn’t gone all that smooth.

“What happened was the Jamal injury, that’s what really changed (things), just threw everything for a loop,” Wright said, pointing to strong safety Jamal Adams’ season-ending quad injury in Week 1.

Wright said the Seahawks had plans for Adams to play more like a linebacker this season and would be helping run things in the middle of the defense with Jordyn Brooks, who has taken over the “green dot” role for Seattle this year as the defensive player with a headset in his helmet who relays the play call to his teammates.

What Wright said jumped out to host Brock Huard, a former NFL quarterback and current FOX Sports football color commentator.

“That was surprising to me, because we didn’t see that – but then again they didn’t play in the preseason together,” Huard said of Adams and Brooks. “And then again, as I listened to K.J. say that and I read into Clint Hurtt’s comments after Jamal’s injury, that makes a little bit more sense.”

Adams was a game-changing player in his first year with Seattle in 2020, setting the NFL record for most sacks in a season by a defensive back. But his 2021 season was a disappointment as he was used more like a traditional safety in coverage in what turned out to be Ken Norton Jr.’s last season as Seahawks defensive coordinator.

All signs indicated Adams would be used more to strengths around the line of scrimmage this year, and Wright’s comments gave Huard a better idea of what the plan was.

“They really wanted him in a bunch of those nickel (situations this season),” Huard said of Adams. “They wanted him in the box with Jordyn Brooks, playing to his strengths as a run stopper, as an instinctive downhill run stopper, which was his best asset – which is not what we saw with Ken Norton. He was much more of a conventional safety. Yes, he rushed in the second half of his first year, but they were largely conventional safety rush blitzes.

“What K.J. is alluding to there would have been very, very different and would have played absolutely more to his strengths. And when they say, ‘Yeah, that’s a pretty big hole. We don’t have another Jamal Adams’ – you don’t. You have guys that can cover even better than Jamal, but you don’t have any other hybrid, any other run-stuffing safety with those kinds of instincts in the box, and that’s a significant miss.”

What do the Seahawks do now? Wright pointed to Brooks and fellow linebacker Cody Barton, a 2019 draft pick in his first season as a starter.

“We need Cody and Brooks to really find the dynamic. If you guys are gonna be on the field, you wanted this, it’s your contract year, Cody – you got to show yourself and show your teammates and the rest of the people around the league that, hey, I can get this job done,” Wright said. “I can be a three-down linebacker, I can run sideline to sideline and make these plays, I can defeat these blocks. And so it’s still early. Game 4, let’s give it another try and let’s see if we can make it happen.”

You can listen to the full K.J. Wright Show from Wednesday at this link, and hear Huard’s thoughts in the Blue 88 segment from Tuesday’s Brock and Salk here or in the player below.

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