The Seattle Seahawks have righted the once-sinking defensive ship. There’s finally some proof that this team can play well enough to keep them in any game, and that’s exactly what Russell Wilson needs them to be.
Here’s four positive signs that have emerged of late.
1. Jamal Adams is doing what they brought him to do
Jamal Adams had 4 pressures on 7 pass rushes (57.1%) last night against the Eagles according to PFF.— Samuel Gold (@SamuelRGold) December 1, 2020
So far on the season he's 1st(!) overall in pressure rate for safeties with 24 pressures on 73 pass rushes (32.9%). This is insane efficiency. #Seahawks
There’s not a lot to say here except the team traded away tons of value for Adams to be an impact player. He’s now impacting.
Adams led the team in tackles for another game, and even if he doesn’t do that (he doesn’t need to) he just plays so fast that it affects nearly everything on the line of scrimmage. His sack against Wentz was the third time I’ve seen a quarterback fully convinced they were about to throw the ball away before he took them down. One of those was Cam Newton.
Seattle identified a position and style of need, gave up the farm, and is starting to get the returns. Adams also seems to be a perfect fit for this team that has trouble sustaining any consistency, but excels at making timely and crucial plays.
2. It’s now a team effort
LEFT: the loss to AZ— Tyler Alsin (@TylerjAlsin) December 1, 2020
RIGHT: tonight's win.
11 out of 15 players got in on a sack, TFL, pass blocked, or QB hit. The entire team is contributing on meaningful, potentially drive-killing plays.
That type of defense is absolutely sustainable. pic.twitter.com/rC3EX1jrxj
A few weeks back, the conversation each week was in that terrible rut of redundancy. “Well, Player X had a pretty good game.” But we were unable to utter the phrase “team effort” for the first eight or nine weeks of the season.
Call it Adams’ sustained health finally, call it Jordyn Brooks development, call it the death and rebirth of Ken Norton Jr. into a good football coach. Whatever you call it, it coincides with the arrival of future retired jersey number 43 Carlos Dunlap. Dunlap has unlocked the defensive line in a way even optimists would have struggled to predict.
The #Seahawks now rank tied for 7th in the NFL in sacks with 31.— Joe Fann (@Joe_Fann) December 1, 2020
The Seahawks have 19 sacks in four games, and it’s obvious that they now make offenses think. Before that they didn’t think. I can prove that offenses didn’t think because Jared Goff played like a first-round pick against Seattle, and he can’t think.
Regardless, against Philadelphia, every starting linebacker and every defensive lineman had either a pass defended or a QB hit. All except L.J. Collier, who technically grabbed Carson Wentz behind the line of scrimmage before tackling him in positive territory.
3. Three games in a row of least points allowed this season
Sample size! It was clear after the Arizona Cardinals game that Seattle media was fully unprepared to embrace a defensive turnaround. Now they’ve won two games in a row, how do you feel? But actually, take it back to the loss against the Los Angeles Rams, and we’re looking at three good weeks of defense. It was among the least amount of points scored for either Rams or Cardinals as well.
As frustrated as fans might be that the Eagles scored at all, 17 points is the least they’ve scored this season...though they’ve done it four times.
The Seahawks are as close as they’ve ever been to having all their expected contributors healthy, and they were one mildly sleepwalking official away from a 3rd-and-54 or whatever. This means absolutely nothing it just would have been cool to talk about for a couple years.
4. Tre Flowers
Yes, this is a category unto its own. Seattle lost to the Green Bay Packers in the playoffs, and Flowers was burned alive in the press. Davante Adams is very good, and Flowers should have been nowhere near him on anything resembling an important play, but he’s not why this team lost. Nevertheless, Flowers entered this season as one of the more welcomed backups in recent history, with the hopes of many that Quinton Dunbar would take the job and never look back. That assumption apparently upset Flowers this summer, and he’s made every effort to make us remember him.
Interested to see what Tre Flowers' passer rating against looks like after yesterday's game. It's dropped nearly 25 points in the last four games and he gave up three catches for 20 yards in Philly.— Corbin Smith (@CorbinSmithNFL) December 2, 2020
The other story no Seahawks fan wants to acknowledge is the resurgence of Tre Flowers. Since returning to his natural right side in wk 7, he ranks 17th among CBs, per PFF. His coverage grade is basically equal to Jalen Ramsey and Jason Verrett during this stretch. pic.twitter.com/qszIBs67UR— Brian Nemhauser (@hawkblogger) December 2, 2020
The reason Flowers gets his own category is because he’s proven at the very least that right cornerback is not the biggest weakness on the defense. Honestly if the coaches had to decide on a playoff lineup today, I kind of hope they’d pick him over Dunbar. Having two starting-level cornerbacks against the teams that will most likely be in the playoffs is massive. Last year’s Dunbar and this year’s Flowers are both better than last year’s Flowers, and that’s one big problem solved.
Cause for concern:
The Seahawks are still last in the entirety of organized football at third down stops.
This is not good, but the silver lining is that third downs can often be known passing downs. As this team improves the pass rush, this number may drop quite a bit.
More opportunities loom for Seattle with the New York Giants up next.