Seahawks Observations: K.J. Wright on Witherspoon and defense

Oct 4, 2023, 12:54 PM

Seattle Seahawks Devon Witherspoon...

Devon Witherspoon of the Seattle Seahawks celebrates his touchdown with on the sideline. (Al Bello/Getty Images)

(Al Bello/Getty Images)

On Monday night, the Seattle Seahawks had perhaps their most dominant defensive game since the glory days of the Legion of Boom.

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A key member of that Legion of Boom defense, former linebacker K.J. Wright, was definitely impressed with Seattle’s 24-3 win over the New York Giants. As great as the Hawks may have played, though, he is pumping the brakes a bit on the reaction to the breakout performance, which included 11 sacks as a team to tie the franchise record for a single game.

“Great job – 11 sacks, phenomenal,” he said during Wednesday’s weekly K.J. Wright Show on Seattle Sports. “When you look at (quarterback) Daniel Jones and the New York Giants, this is a really, really, really bad football team.”

Wright made it clear that as great as Seattle played on defense, you still need to factor in the state of the Giants’ offense.

“I’m not taking anything away from our defense,” he said. “When I say that, you may think I’m taking away. You get two interceptions, 11 sacks, phenomenal. But look at the (Giants’) offense. They couldn’t move the ball. They couldn’t move the ball. So I’m all for great defense – I’m a defensive guy. I know what it looks like when you face a team and you go out there you just totally dominate. But I also know what really bad offense looks like, as well.”

There’s one element of the defense that Wright is buying into, however.

The emergence of Devon Witherspoon

The star of the night for the Seahawks was unquestionably rookie cornerback Devon Witherspoon, the No. 5 overall pick in this year’s NFL Draft. He made two sacks, three QB hits, returned an interception 97 yards for a touchdown, and registered seven tackles while playing both outside cornerback and inside as the nickel corner.

Wright sees why the Seahawks think so highly of the Illinois product.

“When I watch Devon Witherspoon, I’m telling you, from the nickel spot, from the corner spot, blitzing off the edge, tackling in the open field, pick-6, celebrating – the energy is so contagious, it’s so infectious,” he said. “The dude is a bona fide baller. I love what he brings to the table, I love how fast he plays.”

In fact, that speed reminds Wright of a famous teammate of his from the LOB.

“He has that Earl Thomas energy. That’s what he has. Like, every play, he’s moving quick, faster than anyone on the football field, sideline to sideline, and just line up off the edge, blitzing, dropping into man-to-man coverage. The dude is a savvy rookie, just a guy that can do everything on the football field. Phenomenal. Phenomenal football player.”

Jamal Adams’ short return

While Wright likes the frenetic energy of Witherspoon in Seattle’s defense, he actually is preaching something else when it comes to veteran strong safety Jamal Adams.

In his first back after over a year out due to a torn quad suffered in Week 1 of the 2023 season, Adams lasted just nine plays before suffering a concussion when he took a knee to the helmet on a tackle. Adams is someone else whose playing style could be compared to Thomas, but his physical nature on the field has made it hard for him to stay healthy ever since joining the Seahawks in a 2020 trade.

Wright shared some insight from a conversation he had with a former teammate after Adams’ injury on Monday.

“He said (Adams) needs to learn the ability to slow down, to come to balance,” Wright recalled. “To know when to take your killshot or to know when to come to balance, slow down and make a normal, routine tackle.”

Adams nearly sacked Jones early in the first quarter, and the fact that he missed stood out to Wright.

“With Jamal on the sack that he missed, coming off the edge and he’s running full-speed – just slow down, read the play, and just fall into the sack. The quarterback will fall right into your lap.”

Wright had a similar takeaway on the play where Adams suffered his injury.

“Even when I saw the tackle that he had a concussion on… slow down, make a normal, routine tackle, head up, (and the ball carrier is) down for a 2-yard gain,” Wright said.

The K.J. Wright Show airs each Wednesday during the Seattle Seahawks season from 8-9 a.m. during Seattle Sports’ Brock and Salk. Listen to this week’s edition in the podcast at this link or in the audio player near the top of this post.

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