Huard: The Seahawks’ defense is now as aggressive as advertised
Between 2019 and 2021, the story was the same for the Seahawks on defense.
The defense would struggle mightily early in the season before turning things around later in the year, but they’d still allow a lot of yards and time of possession while limiting points allowed.
Those seasons were with Ken Norton Jr. running the defense, though. He was fired this offseason and Clint Hurtt was promoted from defensive line coach to defensive coordinator for the Seahawks.
The early results weren’t great. Not only were the Seahawks allowing a ton of yards – especially on the ground – but they were giving up a ton of points, too.
It didn’t look at all like the defense Hurtt said we’d be seeing this season.
“One thing that is going to be significantly different this year, we are going to be aggressive. We want that,” Hurtt told reporters in February after his promotion “… That’s the mentality of the defense we want to have, and our players respond to that.”
Well, the defense has flipped the switch the last three weeks in three straight Seahawks wins. They gave up just a field goal to the Arizona Cardinals three weeks ago, slowed down a dangerous L.A. Chargers offense two weeks ago and this last week, Seattle shut down the New York Giants’ stellar rushing attack. And were it not for a fumble deep in their own territory, the Seahawks wouldn’t have allowed a touchdown all game long.
“This is on the players, man. They’re getting it,” he said.
And the aggression, Huard said, isn’t coming from aggressive blitz-heavy calls from Hurtt, either.
“They’re not calling run blitzes. They’re not calling crazy stuff. They’re not calling Cover-Zerom” Huard said. “The Giants are a feast and famine team (on defense). That’s just their their style. Their coordinator (Wink Martindale) came from Baltimore, and they’re gonna blitz and they’re gonna get you. But then you’re going to get them. And that has never, ever, ever been in the DNA of (Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll) no matter who coordinates for him. No, they’re going to keep a safety (deep), they’re going to protect.”
Huard said the Seahawks “don’t go to Vegas” in terms of gambling with aggressive play calls on defense.
“They’re going to be sound, and if you beat their blitz, they’re going to still have somebody to tackle because they’re not giving up explosive (plays),” he said. “They’re just not going to do that. They’re gonna have to earn it against them.”
Huard said the reason the Seahawks are getting more sacks, pressures, tackles for loss and turnovers is because the players have “absorbed tis message of aggressiveness.”
“And they’re winning and therefore are beating (the offensive line), their corners are securing the edge, their safeties are secure on tackles when they do get out on occasion. Yeah man, it’s binding all together, and it’s been impressive,” he said.
Shutting down the Giants
As noted above, the Giants have one of the best rushing attacks in football, entering Week 8 second in the NFL in rushing yards per game.
But Seattle slowed them down in a big way, holding the Giants to just 78 rushing yards. Star running back Saquon Barkley had just 53 yards on 20 carries.
Last week, Huard stressed that the Seahawks needed to dominate on the edges to slow down Barkley. He liked what he saw from Seattle’s defense against Barkley, who he likened to the video game “Frogger” with how he can jump and navigate through traffic.
“You know what Saquon wanted to do? He wanted to go up there and (make a move) and then back around and just jump-hop outside that edge, and that’s where his big plays have come,” Huard said. “(He had) 727 yards coming in. That wasn’t there. They just cut that off. And the cool thing — and you said this earlier — (cornerback) Mike Jackson came up in (run) support, your corners had to come up in support, your nickel had to come up in support, and your edges and Bruce (Irvin) and Boye (Mafe), Uchenna (Nwosu) had the major duty of it, man.”
Mafe is a rookie outside linebacker who the Seahawks took in the second round of this year. He’s played a lot for Seattle this year, but he hasn’t gotten the attention or recognition that tackles Charles Cross and Abraham Lucas, running back Kenneth Walker III or cornerbacks Tariq Woolen and Coby Bryant have gotten when looking at the Seahawks’ 2022 draft class.
But Huard is liking what he’s seeing from the Minnesota product.
“He’s coming. Yeah, he’s learning and he’s a powerful dude, man,” he said. “Those numbers at the combine are real.”
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