Do the Seahawks need to focus more on run defense?
The story of the Seahawks’ offseason has been how Seattle will address their pass rush, which was one of the first in the league last year, sacking opposing quarterbacks just 28 times.
And while it’s indisputable that fixing the pass rush is a top priority, another aspect of the defense was also poor last year: stopping the run.
Jim Moore of 710 ESPN Seattle’s Bob, Dave and Moore is surprised that addressing the run defense hasn’t been more heavily discussed and that the team hasn’t done much to address it other than re-signing defensive tackle Jarran Reed.
“I just look at that run defense and it used to be one of the staples of a good Seahawks defense, and again, I don’t think anyone out there, myself included, is expecting the Seahawks to suddenly be the 2013 Seahawk defense, it’s just that you’re looking for it to be average at this point or hopefully above average, but this below average trend just continues,” he said on Thursday.
Opponents put up large passing numbers against the Seahawks, highlighted by Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton throwing for 418 yards in Week 1 and Falcons backup Matt Schaub compiling 460. Seattle’s pass defense ranked 27th overall.
But the run defense didn’t fare much better. Seattle allowed 117.7 rushing yards per game, 11th most in the league. More concerning, however, was that the Seahawks allowed 4.9 yards per carry, the same amount they allowed in 2018.
“When you’re giving up 5 yards per carry, and it’s gone on for two seasons in a row, that’s why I sit there and wonder about (defensive coordinator) Ken Norton all the time because we look at the players who are out there on the field and you’d think that they’d be better than they are collectively, and that includes the run defense,” Moore said.
Moore’s co-host, former NFL linebacker Dave Wyman, suggested the struggles could be fixed or at least improved with a new mentality.
“I think it’s more of they need to get back to a different style,” Wyman said. “They have the players … but a lot of times I just feel like they’re being coached to ‘hey, just make the tackle, just get the guy down on the ground.'”
Wyman said something that’s been missing is Seattle defenders attacking blockers. Additionally, Wyman thinks Seattle needs more big hits against the run and pass, which is something that former safety Kam Chancellor regularly provided.
“They need a hammer. They need a different mentality on defense where ‘we’re just going to punish people’ and they really haven’t bee that way the last couple of years,” he said. “It’s a problem, no question about it … It needs to be addressed.”
As mentioned, Reed has been re-signed and fellow defensive tackle Poona Ford will also return. The NFL Draft starts next Thursday and Seattle has been linked to a number of different defensive tackles early, such as Texas A&M’s Justin Madubuike, who Wyman profiled last week.
Defensive end Jadeveon Clowney is also a free agent and he was one of Seattle’s best run stoppers, if not the best. Re-signing him would assist both the pass rush and run defense.
“I see him in the run game and I think he does a good job,” Wyman said. “(He does as a good of a job) as any defensive end that you will find in the NFL and that’s why I make the case for him being just an overall good player, not necessarily a ‘stat hound’ as far as rushing the passer.”
“Those might be bigger losses than we’re giving credit for,” Bob Stelton said, adding that other linemen like Branden Jackson, L.J. Collier and Ford need to take bigger step forwards in 2020.
You can listen to the full conversation at this link or in the player below at the 24:25 mark.
Seahawks draft coverage
• Hawks Draft: What do you want them to do and what they do need?
• Heaps: Seahawks are unlikely to trade out of 1st round for 2 reasons
• Wyman: Could ‘boom or bust’ Bama CB Diggs be Seattle’s top pick?
• Brock Huard’s draft prospects that fit what Seahawks need
• O’Neil: 3 things (I think) I know about Seahawks’ upcoming draft
• Clayton: Hawks always face tough road in draft as perennial playoff team