Listen to Seattle Sports: Mariners open series at Miami Marlins


Bumpus: The unsung hero of the Seahawks’ defense this season

Jan 7, 2023, 2:33 PM

Seahawks Ryan Neal...

Seahawks safety Ryan Neal reacts to a stop against the Giants at Lumen Field on Oct. 30, 2022. (Lindsey Wasson/Getty Images)

(Lindsey Wasson/Getty Images)

There have been plenty of heroes for the Seahawks this year on both sides of the ball.

Huard: Can Seahawks’ Walker or Woolen win Rookie of the Year honors?

On offense, it’s easy to point to quarterback Geno Smith, who went from a longtime backup to a Pro Bowler this season.

On defense, linebackers Uchenna Nwosu and Darrell Taylor have both set career-highs in sacks.

And of course, Seattle’s rookie class has been the talk of the league this year, with six first-year players carving out major roles, including fifth-round pick Tariq Woolen, who was named to the Pro Bowl as he is tied for the NFL lead in interceptions.

But which player on defense has gone a bit under the radar this year? For former NFL receiver Michael Bumpus, the answer is simple.

“The unsung hero on defense goes to the greatest interview I do every time we sit down and talk to this guy, and that’s Ryan Neal, man,” Bumpus said during Thursday’s Bump and Stacy on Seattle Sports 710 AM.

Neal, 27, is in his fifth year in the NFL and his fourth with the Seahawks. The 2018 undrafted free agent has played more than ever this season as the Seahawks had a dire need at strong safety early in the season.

Perennial Pro Bowler Jamal Adams injured his leg in Week 1 and was lost for the season. Josh Jones then started at strong safety for three weeks but struggled. Neal then got his first start in Week 5 in New Orleans and hasn’t looked back. He’s played 73% of the Seahawks’ defensive snaps this year.

“Not only did he come in and fill in for Jamal Adams, he’s played through knee injuries, elbow injuries,” Bumpus said. “They’re asking this man to get in the box and play like he’s turned 250 pounds.”

And all in all, Neal has had a very good season, Bumpus said.

Neal has recorded 66 tackles, 45 solo tackles, one interception, two forced fumbles, eight passes defended and one sack in 14 games (10 starts) in 2022. He’s become someone who the Seahawks can rely upon in a big way.

“We hardly, if ever, say, ‘Man, what was Ryan Neal doing on that play?’ He’s usually where he’s supposed to be, he plays with a chip on his shoulder,” Bumpus said. “I love his attitude … Ryan Neal has been the unsung hero for this defense because he was replacing the highest-paid player on this team and has done a great job doing so.”

Neal hasn’t played in Seattle’s last two games due to a knee injury, and he is questionable to play on Sunday against the Rams in the Seahawks’ regular season finale. The Hawks need a win over the Rams and then a Green Bay Packers loss to the Detroit Lions on Sunday Night Football in order to secure a Wild Card spot.

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

Bumpus: Biggest surprises on offense and defense for Seahawks

Bump & Stacy Show

Bump and Stacy

Seattle Mariners...

Zac Hereth

The Mariners’ less-talked-about trade deadline need

ROOT Sports analyst Ryan Rowland-Smith explains how the Seattle Mariners need to add to their bullpen before the MLB trade deadline.

1 day ago

Seattle Seahawks Mike Macdonald 2024 rookie minicamp...

Cameron Van Til

Why Bump likes Seahawks’ decision to conduct joint practices

The Seattle Seahawks are conducting joint practices this August for the first time since 1991. Michael Bumpus explains why he likes the move.

3 days ago

Seattle Mariners Logan Gilbert...

Cameron Van Til

What’s behind Mariners’ drastic home success, road struggles?

ESPN's David Schoenfield and Michael Bumpus give their takes on why the Seattle Mariners' home and road splits are so dramatically different.

4 days ago


Seattle Sports Video

Video: Former Major League Pitcher Trevor May on the Seattle Mariners rotation, chances in the AL West

What does former Major League pitcher Trevor May think about the run this Seattle Mariners starting rotation is on? How good are they really? Have the Rangers and Astros taken a step back? He joined Michael Bumpus and Stacy Rost to talk about that and just what it might mean for the M’s the rest […]

4 days ago

Seattle Seahawks HC Mike Macdonald...

Zac Hereth

Bump: The great decision Seahawks’ Mike Macdonald made

Former Seattle Seahawks WR Michael Bumpus explains why Mike Macdonald's decision to cancel the final day of minicamp was a good one.

5 days ago

Seattle Mariners first baseman Tyler Locklear...

Zac Hereth

Mariners rookie Tyler Locklear making good early impressions

The No. 94 prospect in baseball, according to Baseball American, made his major league debut for the Seattle Mariners last weekend.

8 days ago

Bumpus: The unsung hero of the Seahawks’ defense this season