Though it hasn’t always been pretty or fun to watch, the Seahawks managed to open the season with a 6-2 record for only the second time in franchise history.
“The first half is over. 6-2 isn’t exactly the best it could have been,” coach Pete Carroll said after Sunday’s win in Atlanta. “But it’s pretty darn good at this time. We made the most of it. I wanted to really finish this half, get it over with and see where we were as we kick in to the second half, because the whole thing gets started now.”
Considering Seattle has historically played better in the second half under Carroll’s leadership, it’s no wonder he’s eager to see how things play out on the field over the next two months.
After dishing out midseason awards on offense, it’s time to switch gears to the defensive side of the football.
Defensive MVP – Bobby Wagner
Much like Russell Wilson on offense, Wagner receiving MVP honors is a no-brainer. Sure, he’s actually missed a tackle or two this year and showed he was indeed human trying to run with Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson, but the four-time All-Pro selection ranks third in the NFL with 75 tackles and nearly has matched last year’s total with four tackles for loss. Considering the consistency struggles Seattle has endured rushing the passer and injuries in the secondary, this defense would be in horrible shape without Wagner lining teammates up and making plays all over the field.
Defensive Lineman of the Midseason – Jadeveon Clowney
Forget about the fact Clowney only has 18 tackles and 2.0 sacks through eight games. He’s been a force of nature off the edge defending the run and pressuring quarterbacks for Seattle despite constant double teams from opponents. After a slow start learning a new defensive scheme, he’s been especially effective in recent games, racking up four quarterback hits, a sack, and a tackle for loss in a 27-20 win over the Falcons last weekend. His rare athleticism has been apparent chasing down running backs from the other side of the formation and returning one-handed interceptions for touchdowns.
Defensive Rookie of the Midseason – Marquise Blair
Two weeks ago, this award wouldn’t have existed because the Seahawks weren’t getting any contributions on defense from their 2019 draft class. But Blair has answered the call after replacing an injured Bradley McDougald in the starting lineup the past two weeks, recording 17 tackles, a pass deflection, and a pivotal forced fumble at the goal line against Falcons running back Devonta Freeman last weekend. The hard-hitting safety should stay in the lineup for the foreseeable future and has a chance to be an impact performer down the stretch for Seattle.
Most Improved of the Midseason – Shaquill Griffin
Coming off a disappointing 2018 season, Griffin revamped his entire offseason program, hiring a personal chef and increasing his focus on film study among other changes. The altered approach has paid dividends on the field, as Griffin has played like a shutdown corner throughout the first half of the season. Playing with plenty of swagger, the third-year pro has racked up 33 tackles and nine passes defensed through eight games, earning an excellent 78.5 grade from Pro Football Focus. If he can get his hands on a few interceptions in the second half, Griffin would improve his case for a Pro Bowl and maybe even All-Pro honors.
Comeback Player of the Midseason – K.J. Wright
While Wright has been exposed in coverage at times this year against more athletic tight ends, he’s posted double-digit tackles in three games already this season and isn’t far behind Wagner with 68 combined tackles on the season. He’s also been better in coverage than some claim, as he’s produced five pass deflections, including knocking the football out of the hands of Ravens tight end Mark Andrews in the end zone two weeks ago. Not a bad bounce back season for a player who missed 11 games battling knee issues in 2018 and looked to be finished in Seattle.
Biggest Surprise of the Midseason – Quinton Jefferson
Maybe his performance shouldn’t be surprising since he had 15 quarterback hits last season, but with the additions of Clowney, Ziggy Ansah, and L.J. Collier, Jefferson became a relative afterthought. But once Jarran Reed was slapped with a six-game suspension, the fourth-year defender’s value went up exponentially due to his ability to play multiple positions along the defensive line. Through eight games, Jefferson has been Seattle’s most consistent pass rushing presence while seeing extensive snaps as a base defensive end as well as three-technique defensive tackle, producing 2.0 sacks and seven quarterback hits along with three pass deflections.
Play of the Midseason – Jadeveon Clowney’s Interception Returned for a Touchdown vs. Cardinals
While choosing an offensive play for the first half wasn’t difficult, there were plenty of quality candidates for play of the midseason on the defensive side of the ball. Tedric Thompson made a sensational interception to help put away the Rams win Week 5, Blair’s heroics near the goal line in Atlanta were crucial, and Ansah’s forced fumble and recovery versus the Browns changed the game. But none of those plays topped the excitement produced when Clowney snatched a screen pass from Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray and bolted down the sideline for his first career pick-six, igniting the Seahawks to a 27-10 win in the desert.