DC Ken Norton Jr. gives a progress report on Seahawks’ defense

Aug 13, 2019, 9:59 AM | Updated: Oct 29, 2020, 11:01 pm
Ken Norton Jr. is entering his second season as defensive coordinator with the Seahawks. (Getty)...
Ken Norton Jr. is entering his second season as defensive coordinator with the Seahawks. (Getty)

Seahawks defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr. joined John Clayton on 710 ESPN Seattle Monday to discuss the progress of the defense and evaluate last Thursday’s preseason opener.

O’Neil: What we learned from Seahawks’ preseason opener

Clayton was quick to ask Norton about the noticeable increase in the amount of blitzes called in the game. Will we see more of this trend for the Seahawks defense in 2019? Don’t count on it. Norton wanted to make it clear, that there has been no change in defensive philosophy.

“We’re not blitzing every down,” Norton said. “We’re just having a mindset that when it’s applicable we can do it. We have been more of a coverage team but at the same time we have the ability to pressure when we like. Don’t get the wrong idea that we’re a team that likes to go at it. That’s not the case, we just pick the right spots.”

The other question heading into last week’s game revolved around what the Seahawks’ pass rush would look like.

“We saw the pressure that we wanted, now we need consistency,” Norton said. “Now, can they match what they did the week before? The challenge is getting better and better, and more consistent pressure every week.”

The Seahawks are relying on a very young group of players mixed with some veteran leadership to bring that consistency to the defense and John Clayton got a progress report from Coach Norton on where they stand.

The Linebackers: “Well, we haven’t seen them all together on the field. Bobby’s been in and out with his contract and now he’s out. K.J.’s been kind of…we kind of have him under management and Mychal’s been in a situation where he’s been going back and forth. So they haven’t been together at once but we know that once we do get them together hopefully toward the end of the preseason, we have a really high standard for them. These guys, they should be competing to be the best unit in the league.”

Austin Calitro: “We really like Austin. He’s fast, smart, aggressive, and physical. He plays multiple spots. He can do a lot of things and he has that energy that you expect at the position. The things he’s been able to do and the way he’s developed, we’re really happy with him.”

Shaquem Griffin: “I see improvement. He’s been consistent. He’s been learning how to play at the NFL level, knowing that you’re not going to be one hundred percent all the time and you’ve got to play hurt. I think that his development is right where we expected. This should be a breakout year for him.”

Jacob Martin: “He’s relentless. He only knows one speed and I think the standard he sets for effort and relentless attitude… he’s going to get a lot of sacks just on effort alone. I’m really excited about his development and what he can bring to us.”

Rasheem Green: “Same thing (as Jacob Martin) … development, we want consistency. We’re going to use him on the inside and the ability to work the inside of the rush but there’s no question he has the ability to be a really special player.”

Poona Ford: “He’s tough. He’s got great leverage, really strong, really smart. He’s one of the favorites on the defensive line. He has that personality that people are just kind of drawn to. He’s certainly a guy that…we’re going to jump on his back and he’s going to carry us.”

Barkevious Mingo: “He’s another guy that we’re expecting a lot of.  He came out of college as a speed guy. He still has the speed, now he’s going to have the opportunity to line up and play against some of the best defenders or offenders in the league and see if he can produce.”

Ugo Amadi: Norton agrees with Clayton that Amadi looks natural in the slot but adds: “at the same time, he’s got some work to do. We’d like him to certainly keep developing and we’re happy with where he is now but there’s so much more out there for him.”

Shaquill Griffin: “He’s been consistent and he’s really matured. He’s getting better and better. That’s one thing at this point going into year three now, good players start to show themselves after year three.”

Tre Flowers: “When a guy is long as he is…when he has really long arms, they really help in his coverage. It really kind of re-routes things and doesn’t allow easy access for the receiver to get loose so he can use his hands as a tool and a weapon. With his youth, he hadn’t played the position in college, so he’s still learning but he’s learning the fact that his hands and his length can really be a weapon for him.”

The Secondary: “Consistency and great communication. Bradley McDougald is going to be playing this week so we’ll get the whole group together. The whole thing in the preseason and the offseason when you’re dealing with this level is guys are coming off injuries and you don’t get the chance to play the guys all together but we’ll have a pretty good group this weekend. We’re excited about the whole group getting close to playing together.”

More from Maura Dooley:

Seahawks made John Ursua nervous during draft, but now he’s in WR mix
Notebook: A pair of defensive standouts, plus injury updates

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