Friday marks twenty months since the Seattle Seahawks traveled to the Upper Midwest to take on the Green Bay Packers in the 2017 season opener, and in the time since then so much has changed. That was the first game the Seahawks defense had played without holding the title of reigning NFL scoring defense since 2012, and it was a collection of Pro Bowl and All Pro caliber players together over several seasons that is extremely difficult to achieve in the salary cap era.
With the Hawks reportedly set to add some in the pass rush department Thursday with the signing of Ziggy Ansah as a replacement for Frank Clark, it represents another step towards the complete overhaul of the team’s defense. Specifically, looking back at the starting eleven on defense from the Week 1 2017 loss to the Packers, the unit looked like this.
- Defensive end Michael Bennett
- Defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson
- Defensive tackle Jarran Reed
- Defensive end Cliff Avril
- Outside linebacker Terence Garvin
- Outside linebacker K.J. Wright
- Middle linebacker Bobby Wagner
- Cornerback Richard Sherman
- Cornerback Jeremy Lane
- Strong safety Kam Chancellor
- Free safety Earl Thomas
Of those starting eleven, only Wright, Wagner and Reed remain with the team. Bennett is now with the New England Patriots having played 2018 with the Philadelphia Eagles. Richardson signed as a free agent with the Cleveland Browns after playing for the Minnesota Vikings on a one year deal this past season. Cliff Avril and Kam Chancellor suffered career ending neck injuries in Week 4 and Week 10, respectively during that 2017 season. Sherman was cut last spring and now plays for the rival San Francisco 49ers, and Thomas signed the mega-deal he was looking for with the Baltimore Ravens in free agency in March. Lane remains unemployed after being released in the spring of 2018 following an arrest on a DUI charge shortly after the 2017 season concluded, and Garvin remains a free agent following the collapse of the AAF, where he played well enough to garner national attention.
In short, the defense has been completely revamped over the past two seasons, and while there is a ton of youth and potential upside on the defensive side of the ball, those young players will need to step up in 2019 in order for the Seahawks to reach their potential.
Attempting to project the starting eleven on defense in 2019 becomes a difficult task due simply to the number of players at some positions that have been brought in. Will Marquise Blair or Ugo Amadi take over the starting safety roles? If so, what happens to Tedric Thompson, Delano Hill and even Bradley McDougald? The corners seem set with Tre Flowers and Shaquill Griffin, but the team still has a gaping hole to fill at the nickel corner position following Justin Coleman finding a wheelbarrow full of money with the Detroit Lions.
If nothing else, training camp for the Seattle Seahawks will be extremely interesting on the defensive side of the ball, as the team will have a huge number of starting jobs up for grabs, and a whole host of youngsters competing for those jobs.