Rost: Similar situation for Seahawks’ D vs Cardinals, but with extra help this week
The struggling Seahawks defense will have a chance to face a banged-up, short-staffed offense this Sunday.
Copying and pasting that intro from last week, and the week before, sure saved some time here.
For another week, the Seahawks defense will face an opposing offense that will be without a top receiver or running back. This time it’ll be the Arizona Cardinals, who won’t just be short top receiver DeAndre Hopkins (serving the final game of a six-week suspension) but will also turn to Eno Benjamin as its lead running back following injuries to starter James Conner and backups Darrel Williams and Jonathan Ward.
It’s not just injuries that have plagued the Cardinals in a 2-3 start. Arizona is 25th in third-down conversions (36.1%) and 19th in red zone scoring.
Now, if you’ll remember, the Seahawks faced the New Orleans Saints without top receiver Michael Thomas and starting quarterback Jameis Winston, and the Detroit Lions without top receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown and top running back D’Andre Swift. Despite those absences, the defense allowed 179 rushing yards and 45 points from the Lions and more than 230 rushing yards from the Saints.
So, here goes another copy and paste: the Seahawks must avoid fielding their worst defense against a weakened opponent.
They’ll have a bit more help this week in the form of former first-round pick Bruce Irvin.
The 34-year-old outside linebacker signed with Seattle’s practice squad earlier this week. At his best, he was an integral part of Seattle’s best defense. Ten years later, he’s trying to carve out a role on a struggling defense as a veteran who has recently recovered from a torn ACL.
In fact, Irvin was three weeks away from a self-imposed deadline to retire before his agent received a call from his former team.
“(Pete Carroll) just said, ‘just be you,'” Irvin said when asked what Carroll told him about his role. “You’ve got a ton of experience in this league, so I have a lot of knowledge. Not only on the field, but off the field… I’m a book and I’m just willing to share everything.”
The move also reunites Irvin with Sean Desai, whom the former played for in Chicago.
More interesting is what Irvin’s experienced eye sees from Seattle’s defense now.
“I see a young defense with not a lot of experience playing with one another. But the talent is there,” Irvin said. “You can’t compare this defense to 2012 and those years because we played for so long with each other. Kam (Chancellor) and Earl (Thomas) didn’t even have to talk to each other (on the field) because Kam knew when Earl was gonna take a shot. There’s just certain stuff that comes with repetition and games together that these guys haven’t got yet. But I’m very confident that it’s gonna come. These guys want to get better. That’s the biggest thing… it would be different if guys was coming in here not caring… I think that’s the first step in turning this thing around.
“So, I’m just coming here to be myself. Work hard, run around, jump over people like I do still. And just try to have everybody just feed off me. If they see the oldest dude on the team doin’ that, maybe it’ll rub off.”
At a time of desperation, when any bit of help works, here’s hoping the energy and experience of a tested 34-year-old edge rusher provides enough spark. It’ll have to. That, or some other improvement will need to find its way onto this team because Seattle’s defense can’t continue to give up as many yards and points and explosive plays, particularly on the ground, as they have through five weeks.
So, yes, Arizona comes to town a weakened and imperfect opponent – but before that can be seen as an advantage again, the defense must first prove it can get out of its own way.