Aside from digging into the various news stories, I’ve largely neglected talking about the Seahawks by design: 2017 was a bitter pill to swallow. After such a sustained stretch of brilliance, this team was a slog to cover last year; but, they’ve jettisoned a lot of aging veterans, brought in fresh blood throughout the organization, and I would argue there’s some reasons to be optimistic (even though my default prediction is that this team will win anywhere from 7-9 games; everything would have to go perfectly in our favor to get to 10 wins or more, and when does THAT ever happen?).
So, with precious few weeks remaining until the pre-season games kick things off, I’ve got a quickie series of posts where I’ll look at the 7 areas of this team as they’re set up right now:
- Passing Game (QB / WR / TE / RB)
- Running Game (RB / QB)
- Blocking Game (OL / TE)
- Special Teams (K / P / Coverage Units / Return Game)
- Pass Rush (DE / LB)
- Run Defense (DT / DE / LB)
- Pass Defense (DB / LB)
Without further ado, let’s talk about the Seahawks’ Run Defense.
Strong group here, in my estimation, in spite of the fact that Malik McDowell is a non-entity. Got a couple young, up-and-comers with Jarran Reed and Naz Jones; got a couple of stout veterans with Tom Johson and Shamar Stephen. Got a guy who knows the system in Quinton Jefferson, who’s a 3rd year guy and is at a point where it’s sort of now or never for him to really break out. And, we’ve got a very intriguing guy in Poona Ford, an undrafted rookie who was nevertheless considered one of the better run-stuffing nose tackles in the draft (too bad it’s just a position that’s becoming increasingly devalued in today’s NFL).
Out of all these guys, I think Naz Jones has the potential to be the most complete DT we’ve had in a long time. He just needs to stay healthy. I think Reed is already a guy you can depend upon to be a nice run-clogging force in the middle, so nothing to worry about there. Tom Johnson might be here more for his interior pass rush, but he’s been around forever and isn’t going to be a slouch in the run game.
I thought the Seahawks took a little bit of a step back last year in run defense for a variety of reasons, but injuries along the interior certainly seemed to play the biggest role. Beefing up the depth the way we have is a surefire way to snap right back on track. I give this group a solid A-.
As I talked about yesterday, there’s just not a lot here. Losing Michael Bennett – your best all-around defensive lineman – is certainly going to hamper things. Now, he’s getting up there in age, so at some point this was bound to happen. We’re just going to have to weather this storm until we can upgrade this position in 2019.
I like Frank Clark’s run defense, but I don’t know if I love it. I think he’ll be fine, but again, we’ve never seen him as this team’s top dog, so will he rise to the challenge or will he fade? My hunch is he’s looking for a massive contract, so he better not sleep on this part of his game. That having been said, the best way to get paid as a defensive end in the NFL is to rack up those sacks, so who knows?
I like Dion Jordan, but again, will he be healthy? Beyond him, I don’t know what to tell you. As I mentioned yesterday, it would probably behoove this team to run some of the defensive tackles out there in the 5-Tech spot like when Red Bryant was here. It might hamper the pass rush, but as I talked about before, I don’t think there’s gonna be much there regardless.
I give this group a B-.
I know, with the Seahawks it’s really a team effort, and there will be secondary input with run defense, but with the loss of Kam, Richard and Earl for however long Earl is gone, that unit has gone from an A to an F.
What’s going to save the run defense is continued master-class effort out of guys like Bobby Wagner and K.J. Wright. If those guys don’t lose a step, we should be just fine. But, even though they’re great, they still need the guys ahead of them to do their jobs. That means the DTs have to stay healthy, and the DEs have to stay assignment-sound. It won’t be for lack of effort, or lack of want-to out of the linebacker room, I’ll tell you that!
At the SAM, the athleticism of Barkevious Mingo should keep him solidly in the mix. And, Shaquem Griffin could be a huge boost as well in various sub-packages.
This group gets an A+.
Overall, I like the run defense on this team. I don’t think there’ll be nearly as many lapses like there were last year. If 2017 was a B, I think we move up to an A- in 2018.