Rost: Veteran Seahawks defender has tough love for defense, himself

Oct 8, 2022, 9:39 AM

Seahawks Shelby Harris...

Shelby Harris of the Seattle Seahawks reacts against the Denver Broncos at Lumen Field on September 12, 2022. (Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

(Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

Shelby Harris has some tough love for the Seahawks defense. And yes, that includes himself.

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During The Huddle on Seattle Sports Station this week, Harris, who was acquired by Seattle as part of the Russell Wilson trade back in March, was asked about the state of the defense.

As a reminder — not that you needed one — the defense is struggling. They managed the run well against Denver in Week 1, though that’s more a result of the Broncos, curiously, not utilizing Javonte Williams as much (he was averaging 6.1 yards per carry). They still gave up 433 net yards but kept Denver out of the end zone.

Four weeks later the Broncos are the worst offense in the red zone, scoring a touchdown on just 21% of drives inside the 20. So perhaps a better reflection is Seattle’s performance against the three offenses after that. Unfortunately, it’s not great. The San Francisco 49ers rushed for 189 yards in Week 2, the Falcons rushed for 179 in Week 3, and the Lions puts up 45 points and over 500 yards of offense in a losing effort in Week 5. Only the Lions, Bears, and Texans are giving up more yards on the ground, and only Detroit is giving up more total yards. It’s not an enviable position to be in. And for Seattle, it’s also not unfamiliar; the Seahawks surrendered the second-most passing yards of any defense in each of the last two seasons.

Usually the solution isn’t easy for a problem that persist, and persist this one has. But there are shorter-term fixes — mistakes that are easier to spot. One of them? Giving up explosive plays. The Seahawks allowed seven plays of 20 or more yards against the Falcons and the Lions. There are missed tackles and missed opportunities, and Seattle’s defenders know that.

Which is where Harris’ response comes in. Host Michael Bumpus asked Harris if the defense — were they able to crack down on those explosive plays — is closer to being great than the outside world thinks.

“I mean, honestly we could care less what the outside thinks,” Harris said. “At the end of the day the only people who matter are the ones in this room. We’re the only ones that are gonna get this done. It’s either we’re gonna fail or we’re gonna get together. We’re in a business of production. And so it’s either we get it done or they’re gonna bring someone else in here either this year or next year to get it done. You know what I mean? So, you’ve got to look at it as how bad do you want your job? Go out there and fight for your job. This is the life we live in the National Football League. And if you’re not gonna do it well enough they’re gonna to bring someone else in that does, you know?

“But like if we don’t get this defense right they’re going to replace a bunch of people on this defense, this is what happens in the NFL. And so you go into that knowing that, I think it gives you a little bit more motivation to get this stuff right. And I get it, we’re young and all that stuff. But they draft newer young players every year. So you’ve got to take it as a pro and you’ve got to take it as a shot at your manhood. Teams are scoring on us. They’re running the ball down up and down on us and they’re getting yards through the air. So as a man, what are you gonna do? Are you gonna let it keep happening or are you gonna sit here and make a difference?”

The Seahawks defense could have an opportunity against a banged-up New Orleans Saints offense. Of course, that was the narrative heading into a game where the Lions were missing their best running back and best wide receiver. And yes, running back Alvin Kamara will be looking to bounce back from injury in this one. But still, it’s an opportunity. The Saints will be without wide receiver Michael Thomas, fellow wide receiver Jarvis Landry is questionable (though New Orleans seems optimistic he’ll play) and they could be starting backup quarterback Andy Dalton (starter Jameis Winston is doubtful).

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