Brock and Salk: How to fix the Seahawks in 3 steps
The Seahawks had, by most accounts, a successful season in 2019, earning a wild card berth for the playoffs and won a postseason game.
While the offense took a big step forward in their second season under offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer, finishing in the top-10 in total points, yards, rushing yards and passing touchdowns, the defense was a completely different story, finishing near the bottom of the league in nearly every major category.
There are a lot of question marks for the defense heading into 2020, such as who will make up the defensive line.
To take a step forward to compete for a Super Bowl, the Seahawks will need to make some changes. What should those be?
Brock Huard and Mike Salk each gave three ways to “fix” the Seahawks for 2020 in the latest edition of the Brock and Salk Podcast.
Salk focused exclusively on Seattle’s defense for his three ways to fix the Seahawks.
Fix pass rush
“Meaning Jadeveon Clowney and two pass rushers,” Salk said.
Clowney, the team’s star defensive end, is a free agent and could command a long-term deal worth roughly $20 million or more per season.
Clowney was injured for the second half of the year and finished the regular season with just three sacks. When he was healthy, he was arguably Seattle’s best player on defense.
Outside of Clowney, the defensive line was a weakness, especially rushing the passer. Rasheem Green led the team with four sacks and Seattle was one of four teams who finished 2019 with less than 30 sacks.
Bringing Clowney back with additional pass rush help would go a long way towards improving arguably the team’s biggest weakness. As of right now, Green, Shaquem Griffin and disappointing first-round pick L.J. Collier are the only edge rushers signed for 2020.
Add impact player in the secondary
“I don’t care which position he plays, but I need one or the other,” Salk said about adding a safety or cornerback in the draft or free agency.
The Seahawks appear set with two members of their secondary in Pro Bowl cornerback Shaquill Griffin and playmaking safety Quandre Diggs. After that, it’s more questionable.
Cornerback Tre Flowers, safety Bradley McDougald (more on him later), 2019 rookie safety Marquise Blair rookie corner Ugo Amadi all have question marks heading into for various reasons.
While Seattle had 16 interceptions, their corners had just three of them, and all were by Flowers. Head coach Pete Carroll preaches the value of turnovers, so adding a playmaker for the secondary could help tremendously in 2020.
Bring in a defensive minded coach who thinks differently
“I’m not saying that they need to change what they do,” Salk said. “I’m not looking for Pete to have wholesale changes.”
Carroll comes from a defensive background and has run his defense similarly since taking over in 2010. While Ken Norton Jr. is the team’s defensive coordinator, it’s still seen as Carroll’s defense.
With the worst defense Carroll has had since arriving in Seattle, many have called for changes in some form. While it appears unlikely Norton is fired, there are other ways to bring different views to the defense, such as adding to the coaching staff.
“There are enough big-time defensive minds out there that don’t necessarily think exactly the same as Pete and I think it would be helpful for them to bring in somebody who just does things a little bit differently to help with parts they do,” Salk said. “And the name Wade Phillips is probably the one that jumps out.”
Phillips is a former head coach who has won Super Bowl 50 as defensive coordinator of the Denver Broncos. He was also the defensive coordinator for the Los Angeles Rams in Super Bowl 54.
“He’s had so much success (and) he’s not built exactly like Pete,” Salk said. “We’ve seen him in a couple of different Super Bowls with excellent defenses and it would just start to vary things a little bit.”
Like his co-host, Huard focused exclusively on Seattle’s defense.
Look at defense to see if you can win a Super Bowl with these players
Huard said before the Mariners decided to do a rebuild of their organization, their top brass passed a notebook around to write down players they thought could realistically help them win a World Series. When they realized their list was smaller than it needed to be, that’s when they decided to embrace the revuild.
Huard wants the Seahawks to do something similar when looking at their defense.
“How many dudes on the roster defensively can help win us a Super Bowl?” Huard said. “That would be the first exercise, and I think they would say ‘oh my gosh, we’ve got some significant holes and problems on both the front end and the back end.'”
In his view, there are only a small handful of players on the roster that are Super Bowl-quality.
Cut defensive players who make too much to help with cap room
The Seahawks have a lot of available cap space this offseason, but there are two players that Huard thinks make too much for what they’re actually worth. Those players are linebacker K.J. Wright and McDougald.
Wright carries a cap hit of $10 million for 2020, per Spotrac, while McDougald’s is $5.4 million.
“At that number, you can’t win a Super Bowl with (them),” Huard said.
If McDougald was making closer to $2 million, Huard would be on board. He’d also be fine with Wright playing on a contract that was more incentive-based.
Improve the pass rush and secondary
Like Salk, Huard thinks the defense needs some major changes in personnel in 2020.
“Significant resources have got to go to that d-line and that secondary,” Huard said. “In this league, you’ve got to have d-line and you’ve got to have people who can cover and take the ball away.”
The Seahawks will look to re-sign Clowney while also adding more pieces, similar to when they signed both Cliff Avril and Michael Bennett ahead of 2013, which helped tremendously in Seattle’s two Super Bowl runs.
They’ll also likely look at drafting secondary help. Huard, who is a college football analyst for FOX Sports, says this upcoming draft is a good one for teams that need help at cornerback.
Listen to the full discussion and much more in the latest Brock and Salk Podcast, available at this link or in the player below.