Assessing Seahawks Defensive Groups After 10 Games
The halfway mark of the 2019 NFL season passed several weeks ago, but with the Seahawks on a Week 11 bye, this weekend ultimately serves as their midway point to rest up for the final stretch run.
Looking back at Seattle’s first 10 games and a fast 8-2 start, how have each of the team’s defensive positional groups performed thus far?
Here’s my bye week assessment, featuring a specific word to describe the positional group, in-depth analysis, and a grade through 10 weeks of play.
Analysis: Seattle has improved substantially defending the run this year, in large part due to the additions of defensive tackle Al Woods and defensive end Jadeveon Clowney in the offseason. From that standpoint, the defensive line has performed at a high level. However, the Seahawks have been annoyingly ineffective rushing the passer most of the season despite having a lot of big names such as Clowney, Ziggy Ansah, and Jarran Reed in the trenches. The unit showed signs of life with 10 quarterback hits and 5.0 sacks against the 49ers on Monday, but consistency will be key over the final six games and getting any production out of Ansah would be welcomed as well.
Analysis: Going into the season, away from having Russell Wilson under center, Seattle didn’t have another more stabile position on the roster than linebacker. Extending Bobby Wagner along with re-signing K.J. Wright and Mychal Kendricks gave the team an experienced, talent starting trio, while rookies Cody Barton and Ben Burr-Kirven impressed during training camp and the preseason. It’s not surprising that the group has been rock solid all season long, though Kendricks has left quite a few tackles on the field, Wright has had some mishaps in coverage, and even Wagner has missed a handful of tackles. Overall, however, the linebackers have predictably been a strong point for the Seahawks.
Analysis: I couldn’t find a word that appropriately describe Seattle’s cornerback group, so I ditched the dictionary. Shaquill Griffin has truly come into his own in his third season, as opposing quarterbacks have only completed 50.9 percent of throws against him for a single touchdown and he has 12 passes defensed through 10 games. Tre Flowers endured a rough start, but he’s made substantial strides in recent weeks and held opponents to a 77.5 passer rating on 67 targets. Those two players alone paint a very bright picture for Seattle, but depth behind them is pretty shaky, as exhibited by Akeem King’s struggles replacing Flowers against Atlanta last month.
Analysis: After losing Earl Thomas in free agency, the safety positions have been constantly changing for Seattle as the team tried to find a suitable starting combination. First, Tedric Thompson opened the year at free safety before suffering a season-ending shoulder injury. Then, he was replaced by rookie Marquise Blair for three games, only to be supplanted by veteran Quandre Diggs last week. Monday’s win in San Francisco was just one game, but the duo of Diggs and Bradley McDougald looked better than any other pairing the Seahawks have put on the field this year, potentially stopping the revolving door in the secondary shut with six games left to play.