Film Breakdown: Jonathan Bullard Makes Strong First Impression in Seahawks Debut
Prior to being poached off of the Cardinals practice squad by the Seahawks last Wednesday, Jonathan Bullard's NFL career had been rather unremarkable through his first four seasons.
Once a First-Team All-SEC selection at Florida, Bullard broke into the league as a third-round pick for the Bears in 2016 with high expectations for a day two selection. But he never emerged as a starter in Chicago and struggled to make an impact, particularly as a pass rusher, producing just 2.0 sacks and five quarterback hits in 46 games during three seasons with the team.
Claimed off waivers by Arizona early in the 2019 season, Bullard found a bit more success in nine games with six starts, registering 1.5 sacks and a career-high seven quarterback hits. But a hamstring injury ended his season in December, preventing him from truly breaking out.
Nonetheless, even after being waived by the Cardinals and signing with their practice squad last month, the versatile Bullard remained on the Seahawks radar. With Rasheem Green still on injured reserve, the team decided to take a chance on a player they were very high on during the pre-draft process five years ago, signing him to the active 53-man roster.
Joining the team midway through preparation for Sunday's game against Minnesota, it remained unclear heading into the weekend if Bullard would be able to contribute in such a quick fashion. But he was not only against the Vikings - he logged 23 snaps on the night and came through as a pass rushing presence, producing two quarterback hits and four pressures, providing invaluable reps during the Seahawks' 27-26 victory.
"It's remarkable that he was able to play that much. He came in on Wednesday," coach Pete Carroll commented on Monday. "It's a statement about his background and his knowledge of the game and all that. I don't think he made any big errors at all scheme-wise."
For most players, it would have been extremely difficult to join a new team and suddenly play significant snaps less than five days later. But as Carroll referenced, Bullard's prior relationship with defensive line coach Clint Hurtt, who was a linebacker coach for the Bears during his rookie season, benefited him greatly making such a speedy transition.
"His communication with Clint - because of their history - showed up." Carroll remarked. "He did a nice job for the first time out. I don't know how you can expect much more of a guy coming off somebody else's practice squad. Really happy for him. Bodes well for him getting into rotations for the future."
How did Bullard fare during his Seahawks debut? Check out my latest film breakdown as I dive into several plays analyzing his surprising performance defending the run and rushing the passer.