Seahawks LB Jordyn Brooks 'Just Getting Started,' Provides Glimpse of Potential in Loss to Cardinals
RENTON, WA - Giving up over 550 total yards of offense and 37 points in a heart-breaking loss to the Cardinals on Sunday Night Football, not much went right for the Seahawks defensively in their first defeat of the season.
But despite the continued struggles for coach Pete Carroll's defense, which has now given up more total yardage than any team in NFL history through the first six games, there were a few bright spots. Most notably, first-round pick Jordyn Brooks returned to the starting lineup at weakside linebacker and made a substantial impact, finishing with seven tackles and a tackle for loss while logging 38 defensive snaps.
"This is what we've seen from him," Carroll said about Brooks' performance on Monday. "He's a really good ball player and I'm excited for you guys to see how fast he is and how aggressive he is. He really plays downhill."
Carroll and his staff had been waiting quite some time for the opportunity to see how Brooks would fare with extended playing time. In the first two weeks of the season, coming off a truncated training camp without a normal offseason program and no preseason games, the former Texas Tech star played just 15 defensive snaps and produced a single tackle.
Late in a Week 2 win over the Patriots, the Seahawks lost veteran linebacker Bruce Irvin to a season-ending torn ACL. Rather than turn to second-year defender Cody Barton, the team decided Brooks was ready to throw into the fire, naming him as Irvin's replacement shortly before taking on the Cowboys in Week 3.
Unfortunately, Brooks played only 14 snaps against Dallas before exiting with a knee sprain suffered when running back Ezekiel Elliott took his legs out in pass protection. He missed the next two games rehabbing the injury, with Barton filling in for him during wins over Miami and Minnesota.
After the Seahawks cautiously held Brooks out against the Vikings and gave him the bye week to ensure he was 100 percent healthy, the rookie returned to practice last week and made several big plays in the first half in Arizona as his team went into halftime with a 27-17 lead.
On Arizona's second drive of the game, Brooks showed off his 4.50 40-yard dash speed in coverage, an area many draft pundits knocked him coming out of college. As athletic tight end Dan Arnold ran a deep post route, he swung his hips open and stayed stride-for-stride with him as Kyler Murray's pass sailed incomplete over the receiver's head.
Then, in one of the most insane sequences you will ever see in a football game, Brooks played a starring role in an epic goal line stand for Seattle.
Three plays after DK Metcalf heroically chased down safety Budda Baker at the Seahawks eight-yard line to prevent an interception return for a touchdown, the Cardinals had 3rd and goal from the two-yard line. Arizona tried to run a quarterback sweep to the left with Murray, but Brooks looked to be shot out of a cannon as he chased down the dynamic playmaker with a perfect pursuit angle and impressive closing speed, bringing him down for a one-yard loss.
On the next play, pressure from Benson Mayowa led to Murray throwing a pass out of the back of the end zone on fourth down and the Seahawks somehow held the Cardinals without a single point after Baker's 90-yard interception. In a 14-point swing, Seattle then marched 97 yards and capped off the drive with a 24-yard touchdown run from Carlos Hyde to extend the lead to 21-7.
In the second half, with the Cardinals playing catchup down by 10 coming out of halftime, Brooks didn't play as many snaps with the Seahawks using more nickel packages with a fifth defensive back on the field. But after finishing with a tackle on nearly 25 percent of his defensive plays, Carroll was encouraged by what he saw in the talented rookie's first NFL start.
"He's just getting started, so he's got a lot of really good things to happen here in this season and we expect him to play well and be effective now," Carroll remarked. "But when he really gets his feet on the ground and really comfortable with the scheme and the rhythm of the games and all that, he's going to be a really big factor for us."
As long as he stays healthy, Brooks should remain Seattle's starting weakside linebacker for the remainder of the year. Given how poorly Carroll's defense has played to this point, as the game starts to slow down for the athletic tackling machine, he will have a chance to play a vital role in helping the unit turn the corner heading into the second half of the season.