The Seattle Seahawks must play their first six games of 2019 without their best defensive lineman. Or so we think.
On Wednesday, head coach Pete Carroll was signing the praises of defensive tackle Poona Ford, the undrafted free agent out of Texas in 2018 who has the distinction of being the shortest defensive lineman in the entire NFL. At maybe 5’11, Ford is one of the only defensive tackles to ever make a significant impact in the league at under 6 feet, and Carroll said the team under-utilized him as a rookie.
With Jarran Reed suspended for the first six games, not only is Ford the team’s best hope at defensive tackle, he may be their best overall defensive lineman if Ziggy Ansah and L.J. Collier aren’t ready for Week 1. Carroll may not be too worried about Ford’s abilities though as he compared him to Henry Thomas. If that name carries no significance to you, that’s fine, as he was mostly ahead of my time too.
But if Carroll sees Ford as Thomas, then I can’t imagine he’s going anywhere as long as Carroll doesn’t go anywhere.
A third round pick of the Minnesota Vikings in 1987, Carroll says Thomas didn’t have all the physical attributes that a team would look for, but he more than made up for it in technique and effort. He was a havoc immediately, racking up 81 tackles as a rookie, then 80 more in year two, along with six sacks and an NFL-leading four forced fumbles. In his third season, Thomas had 94 tackles, nine sacks, and three more forced fumbles.
Carroll served as Minnesota’s defensive backs coach for all three of these seasons, then leaving to be the Jets defensive coordinator from 1990-1993. Fours years later, Carroll was hired to be the head coach of the New England Patriots and one of the team’s very first signings was Thomas. He played for Carroll for all three of his seasons with the team, adding 16.5 more sacks to his resume and never missing a game.
All told, Thomas played 14 seasons in the NFL and made two Pro Bowls. He had 93.5 sacks from the interior. He’s one of the best players we never talk about.
But we talk about Poona Ford a lot. And if Carroll is actually mentioning the name Henry Thomas next to Poona Ford, it could actually mean something. If nothing else, it means that even with Reed out, Carroll probably feels more than comfortable with his new number one defensive tackle.
Perhaps the guy who was always destined to be the number one defensive tackle anyway.