Reinforcements Coming Soon for Seahawks' Struggling Defense
Heading into their bye week, at least from a record perspective, the Seahawks couldn't possibly have gotten off to a better start. Though they haven't dominated their opponents and won three games in the final minute of regulation, they are one of just five undefeated teams and improved to 5-0 for the first time in franchise history in Sunday's win over the Vikings.
But as Seattle gears up for a grueling post-bye stretch featuring consecutive games against Arizona, San Francisco, Buffalo, and the Los Angeles Rams - with three of those games coming on the road - a struggling defense that continues to make history for the wrong reasons remains the utmost concern for coach Pete Carroll.
Through five games, the Seahawks have given up more total yardage (2,356) than any team since the 1950 Baltimore Colts. They've continued to set NFL records each week for passing completions and yardage, having now surrendered 160 completions for 1,852 yards through five games, with both being the highest totals in league history.
For a defensive-minded coach such as Carroll, even considering the clutch interceptions, strip-sacks, and fourth down stops Seattle has produced at decisive moments, those numbers have been anything but encouraging. Fortunately, help should be on the way once the team returns to play in Week 7.
While reserve safety Ryan Neal has played well in his absence, the return of dynamic playmaker Jamal Adams will immediately bolster the Seahawks' secondary as well as their pass rush. Before straining his groin against the Cowboys in Week 3 and sitting out the past two games, he had produced 23 tackles and led the team with 2.0 sacks and five quarterback hits.
Having joined the team shortly before the start of training camp, a healthy Adams should only play better as he gains more experience playing alongside fellow safety Quandre Diggs and cornerbacks Shaquill Griffin and Quinton Dunbar. By default, as chemistry improves in the secondary, teams should have a far more difficult time moving the football through the air.
In addition to Adams, the Seahawks should have rookie linebacker Jordyn Brooks back from a knee sprain out of the bye. The first-round pick out of Texas Tech nearly made it back for last weekend's game, but the team opted to hold him out and give him an additional week of rest.
To this point, Brooks hasn't had much of a chance to show what he can do. He logged just 15 defensive snaps in the first two games of the season and after being named as the starter to replace Bruce Irvin in Week 3, he played just 12 snaps before exiting with the knee injury. Still, Carroll and Seattle's coaching staff have been fired up about his potential since drafting him in April and he will be back in the lineup when healthy.
While both players may not make it back for Week 7 against the Cardinals, Carroll has given positive status updates on defensive ends Rasheem Green and Darrell Taylor, who remain on injured reserve and the Non-Football Injury list respectively.
Sidelined since Week 2 with a neck injury, Carroll told reporters last week Green had "a really good chance" to be activated after the bye week. Bringing back last year's sacks leader would certainly help Seattle from a depth perspective, as the team has had limited options to rotate with starter L.J. Collier at the base defensive end spot during the time he's been out.
As for Taylor, the second-round pick out of Tennessee didn't participate at all in training camp due to a prolonged recovery from offseason leg surgery. He had a titanium rod inserted in January after playing most of his senior season with a stress fracture and also spent time away during camp for the birth of his child.
Required to miss the first six games on NFI, Taylor won't be eligible to return to game action until the Seahawks host the 49ers in Week 8, providing another two weeks for him to get right with hopes of being able to contribute rushing off the edge in the second half of the season.
Even in the non-injury category, veteran defensive tackle Damon Harrison may also be ready to elevate from the practice squad before Week 7. "Snacks" signed last Wednesday and Carroll admitted the coaching staff didn't get much of a chance to look at him this week and they determined he needed time to get into football shape.
Speaking with reporters on Monday, Carroll reiterated that every injured player has a separate timeline and couldn't provide specific updates. But he knows help is on the way in coming weeks for a defense that absolutely needs it and the bye period will be an important one for several of them aiming to play for the Seahawks in the very near future.
"This week will be a very vigorous week for a bunch of guys in those settings. That will mark the tipoff to the game week, then we'll see how that goes. We just have to wait and see. But we're going to get stronger. We know that. We're going to get some real comebacks coming to us. We know that. When is the question that I can't answer."