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Analyzing the Seahawks defense through the play of Poona Ford, part 2

NFL: NOV 30 Seahawks at Eagles Photo by Kyle Ross/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Most of the Seattle Seahawks’ defensive snaps are allocated to players who excel at defending the run. Most. All of the guys who if healthy play 90% or more snaps are strong run guys. Bobby Wagner is elite between the tackles. K.J. Wright is elite off the end and typically in the flat. Jamal Adams is elite everywhere, far as I can tell. Tre Flowers and Shaquill Griffin are both relatively good run defenders.

Stuff is clearly all screwed up in Philly and I caution not to take too much from any game played against an offense in such disrepair, but I would be struck dumb if this is not a good run defense. Too many talented run defenders are playing too well together for this run defense to be anything but good or great. Unless of course it’s schematically torpedoed to save the pass defense.

Philly passed, and passed and passed and passed. Factoring in sacks and scrambles as plays in which coaches and QB called a pass, the Eagles passed 56 times and ran 9 times! Let Carson get cooked, I guess. It is said that the Bills outsmarted Seattle passing early and often. All that supposed smarts depended on talent and execution. No talent, bad execution, and passing like mad is a recipe for inefficiency, turnovers and injuries.

Play 3: In which Poona is awarded a sack

This is a weird play. Carson Wentz pump fakes, only it’s not a pump fake exactly but more like an aborted pass attempt which quickly devolves into a whistled-dead sack.

Wentz could have targeted either receiver running deep. The coverage is good, and Quandre Diggs could have contested either route should Wentz have thrown it, but that’s a risk you take. The left wide receiver has space toward the sideline. Once Diggs bites on the pump fake, the right wide receiver has space toward the hash marks. But often hit, often hurt, and often intercepted quarterbacks have doubts which delay and disrupt their decision making. That happens to Wentz here, twice.

Poona plays end but he’s not an edge player. K.J. Wright blitzes drawing the right tackle. Instead of overloading a gap and attempting to spring a defender free, this five-man, six-gap rush could work equally against the run or pass.

Mostly the pass rush does not work. Alton Robinson runs a path of sadness attempting to turn the corner. He sets up left tackle Jordan Mailata with a quick and assertive speed rush and begins to turn the corner but when he needs to torque his momentum to his left, up field and back toward the quarterback, he can’t. He flattens. He drifts. It sucks. It bums me out immeasurably.

Wright’s right there too deep and out of the play. Snacks (deceptively) wins his matchup with Kelce. He’s plenty deep and plenty free, free enough to play the passing lane. Ultimately Damon Harrison may be why Wentz decided not to throw. Rasheem Green looks pretty good though he’s never quite free and likely would not have sacked Wentz no matter what Wentz chose to do. His spin move’s hardly majestic but it frees Green to flash into Wentz’s peripheral vision (I’m guessing). I think that’s the impetus for Wentz to stagger backward into the grasp of Ford.

The play is whistled dead, perhaps prematurely, but Wentz can’t exactly protest too vigorously about the League’s attempt to protect its quarterbacks.

Seattle has four players who can consistently turn disruption into meaningful pressure: Jamal Adams, Carlos Dunlap, Bobby Wagner and Jarran Reed. Reed’s played a zillion snaps, unlike any other Seahawks defensive tackle in Pete Carroll’s tenure. Really Reed’s only fair comparisons are defensive ends and, well, himself. He’s played in 77.5% of snaps this season. In his bust-out 2018 he played in 78.0% of snaps.

When those guys are off the field or not blitzing, we get stuff like this. It’s ... ersatz. But all the young linemen, the few veteran backups, have potential as pass rushers or at least pass defenders. If Snacks can play the pass lanes, if Ford and Green can startle, screen, sack or even “sack” the quarterback, the pass defense really shouldn’t be world-class bad.