Bumpus: Why Austin Blythe has a key role in Seahawks’ matchup vs Jets

Dec 30, 2022, 4:19 PM

Seahawks Austin Blythe...

Austin Blythe of the Seattle Seahawks prepares to snap the ball against the Kansas City Chiefs on December 24, 2022. (Jason Hanna/Getty Images)

(Jason Hanna/Getty Images)

When looking at the Seahawks’ next opponent, the Jets, a lot of attention has been placed on New York’s defense, and rightfully so.

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The Jets enter Week 18 in the top-five in total defense, scoring defense and passing defense. And due in large part to the play of superstar rookie cornerback Ahmad “Sauce” Garnder, any talk of New York’s defense tends to focus on their ability to stop opposing team’s passing attacks.

But there’s another player on their defense who has been incredibly dominant this year, so much so that former NFL receiver Michael Bumpus pointed to starting Seahawks center Austin Blythe as a player who needs to have a big game on Sunday when the two teams face off.

“He’s gonna be huge on these double-teams against Quinnen Williams,” Bumpus said during Friday’s Bump and Stacy on Seattle Sports 710 AM.

Williams, 25, was the No. 3 overall pick by the Jets in the 2019 NFL Draft. He’s an interior defensive lineman who is having far and away his best NFL season this year.

So far this season, Williams has set career-highs in sacks (12), tackles for loss (12), QB hits (24) and pass deflections (four). Williams and Gardner are two of four Jets players to make the Pro Bowl roster this season. It’s Williams’ first Pro Bowl nod.

Just how good is Williams? Head coach Pete Carroll had no shortage of praise for the star defensive tackle.

“Legitimately a big factor. He’s got 12 sacks,” Carroll told reporters on Friday. “He’s not going to be the flashy pass rusher. He’s a physical, aggressive, knock you back and beat you-type of guy, which really suits his effectiveness in the running game and the pass game. He’s a fantastic player.”

Carroll’s praise of Williams didn’t stop there, either.

“There’s some teams we play that have a player that just jumps out at you and they cause enough problems and draw enough attention that they make everybody play well around him, and he’s one of those guys for sure,” he said.

While Blythe is not a small person “in real life” at 6 foot 3 and 300 pounds, Bumpus said the seventh-year pro is a tad undersized when it comes to offensive linemen. And as Carroll pointed out, Williams is as strong and tough as they come, meaning Blythe has his work cut out for him this Sunday at Lumen Field.

“He’s going to have to have a big game. There are times where Austin has been pushed back a couple of times,” Bumpus said. “… So I just need him to step up because Quinnen Williams is going to hit you with the bull rush. He’s going to use his hands, he’s going to try to split the double team, he’s going to get into the backfield. You need to contain this man, especially on those stretch (run) plays (where you’re) trying to get outside, when you reach into that double team and you’re holding on for dear life until your guard can climb up to that linebacker. Austin Blythe, get big.”

Listen to the full second hour of Friday’s Bump and Stacy at this link or in the player below.

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