Why K.J. Wright is getting ‘chills’ watching Seahawks and their defense
The Seahawks are rolling, to say the least.
After a 2-3 start to the season, Seattle has rattled off three wins in a row and now sit alone atop the NFC West entering a Week 9 clash with the Arizona Cardinals.
Geno Smith and the offense have dominated headlines this year given Smith’s emergence as a star quarterback after years of serving as a backup, but the Seahawks’ three-game winning streak wouldn’t be possible without the play of the defense.
After opening the year as one of the worst units in football, that group has been excellent of late, including this past week’s 27-13 win over the now 6-2 New York Giants.
The defensive turnaround has certainly not been lost on former Hawks linebacker K.J. Wright, who had quite the revelation during Sunday’s win over New York.
“I had a moment during the game, something like chills came through my body when I was watching it,” he said during Wednesday’s K.J. Wright Show on Seattle Sports 710 AM. “It was like the third or fourth quarter … Third down was happening and I was like, ‘Something special is happening here.’ And I saw the fans cheering – the fan base is finally coming around, believing and capturing this season. It was a beautiful feeling that I had.”
What Wright is seeing, he said, is a defense that’s finally confident and playing free. Wright would know a thing or two about confident defenses, as he was a key part of some elite Seahawks defenses in the 2010s.
“You knew something good was going to happen. It was like, ‘OK, here’s the situation: We know our calls, we know what we’re supposed to do, it’s third-and-8 and we know what the tendency is. Something’s good is about to happen. It’s gonna be a sack, I’m gonna trust my teammate on this play, he’s going to make a play and it’s going to be a PBU or interception. Something’s great is going to happen,'” Wright said of his playing days. “It’s not that some magical thing would happen, it was something that we would practice day in and day out, it’s the trust and the chemistry that we had with one another. And I kid you not, people have been asking me all year, ‘Does this remind you of 2011 and 2012?’ Yeah, it does. It does. But I actually felt it. I actually felt it when I watched this game.”
So what does being confident on defense do for players and the unit as a whole?
“Confidence defensively is first of all, knowing yourself. Knowing what your responsibility is, knowing what the plan is. What is the game plan that we have on defense?” Wright said. “And then putting that on to your opponents.”
Then it goes to being confident his teammates will be in the right spot.
“OK, I have this confidence that I know that (defensive tackle) Brandon Mebane is going to be in the B-gap, so if I even see this guy take an inch to my left, I’m shooting (the gap),” he said. “I’m shooting it because I know that he’s going to do his job, and I know (fellow linebacker) Bobby (Wagner) is going to do his job, and we’re so intact, we’re so connected, that I can just move so freely. And when you’re able to move freely without thinking, when you’re able to trust your teammates., it’s just you just moving in sync. You’re not even thinking about it.”
Aside from seeing a more confident defensive unit, what else is Wright seeing?
Overall, the scheme is the same, with the Seahawks running a “bear front,” which typically has three larger defensive linemen on the interior with two in the three-technique (outside shoulder of the guards) and one as a nose tackle lined up over the head of the center.
“When we were watching their bear front, it was soft. It was really soft,” Wright said of the Seahawks’ early-season defense. “But go back and watch the film and you go look at these guys. They are now getting off of blocks, they are taking on (blockers) and shedding and making their plays.”
That’s helped the linebackers, especially Jordyn Brooks, Wright said.
“Look at the linebackers. I saw Jordyn Brooks able to get in the backfield to get a TFL, he said. “…. I love how these guys are still in the bear front. What they’re doing is they’re playing it more aggressive. They’re using their strengths to attack, get off of blocks and make plays. We want to play with two high safeties, so there is an extra gap up front. So what (the defensive line needs) to do is take (the block) on, shed, and make the play.”
Speaking of Brooks, Wright is very pleased with his play overall.
“The biggest question I had with this defense was who is going to be the guy to keep everyone on the same page? There’s 70,000 fans (yelling at home), a new defensive coordinator, new scheme. How is this defense going to move properly? And when they told me Jordyn was going to be the man, I was like, ‘OK, I need the communication to be on point, mental errors, I don’t want to see those,'” he said. “And he has been absolutely lights out. He’s just communicating extremely well, pointing at stuff. You can see him and (safety Quandre Diggs) communicating throughout throughout the game. So when I look at Jordyn, what he’s doing for this defense, I’m really loving what I’m seeing.”
Listen to the full K.J. Wright Show at this link or in the player below.