Fann: 3 Seahawks X-factors for the remainder of the season

Nov 24, 2022, 10:43 AM

Seahawks Boye Mafe...

Giants QB Daniel Jones is sacked by Boye Mafe of the Seattle Seahawks on Oct, 30, 2022. (Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

(Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

The Rams and Cardinals are out of the playoff hunt in the NFC, which leaves the Seahawks and 49ers in a race for the NFC West crown. Both teams are currently 6-4, with San Francisco leading the NFC West by holding the head-to-head tiebreaker. A Week 15 rematch could decide the division winner, but first the Seahawks will have to get past the Raiders, Rams and Panthers in Weeks 12-14, respectively.

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And in Seattle’s pursuit of what would be a surprise playoff appearance in an expected rebuilding season, there are three players who could realistically give the team a substantial boost down the stretch.

All three names below are players on Seattle’s defense who have yet to contribute significantly of yet but have the upside to do so.

1. Boye Mafe, edge

In a season in which the Seahawks have gotten production out of nearly their entire 2022 rookie class, their second-rounder has been in the middle of the pack. Mafe has registered 2.0 sacks in 10 games with 27 combined tackles.

His playing time has been modest, but he’s still getting at least 25 snaps a game. Mafe has just six total pressures in 120 pass rush snaps, and he is yet to have a game with multiple pressures. Seattle is relatively thin at the edge rushing spots, which is why they’ve turned to Bruce Irvin so heavily.

2. Tre Brown, CB

Brown is set to make his highly anticipated return from injury on Sunday against the Raiders. How he’ll be integrated into the defense remains unknown, but it’s possible he’ll get a few series of work on the outside in place of Mike Jackson opposite Tariq Woolen.

Brown will have to earn a full-time role in competition with Jackson, but everyone should be eager to see his speed and physicality back on the field. He had dazzling moments in his brief rookie season before it was cut short due to injury after just five games in 2021.

3. Darrell Taylor, edge

Darrell Taylor has been Seattle’s biggest disappointment based on preseason expectations. We haven’t seen the second-year jump yet (discounting his 2020 rookie season spent entirely on injured reserve), and his playing time has continued to dip.

Taylor has been woeful against the run and hasn’t played more than 40 snaps since Week 5. He has 12 pressures in 180 pass rush snaps with 3.0 sacks. His numbers have been buoyed by an impressive three forced fumbles.

Taylor’s inability to be a consistent factor in the pass rush led to the necessity to sign Irvin and has made Uchenna Nwosu one of the team’s most irreplaceable players on defense. Seattle’s defense needs to get more from Taylor, who posted a promising 6.5 sacks in 2021, especially if Nwosu gets nicked up at any point down the stretch.

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