Last season the Seattle Seahawks defense and special teams only forced a total of 18 turnovers, a franchise low that’s especially bad when you consider the expansion to 17 games. This year they already have 15 (4th most in the NFL) with the season only halfway done.
One of the more glaring stats on that front was the nine forced fumbles for all of 2021, which means they weren’t even creating opportunities for takeaways. Enter the 2022 season and through the good and bad defensive performances, Seattle is getting the damn ball back on a weekly basis.
Heading into Sunday’s win over the Arizona Cardinals, the Seahawks defense and special teams had forced a league-best 15 fumbles, and added to the tally with Ryan Neal’s critical strip of Kyler Murray towards the end of the 1st half. They are all alone in first place both in fumbles forced (16) and recovered (10).
Seattle leads the league with 15 forced fumbles on defense and special teams this year. Of those 15, nine have been recovered by the @Seahawks in helping them to a +3 turnover ratio (T5th NFL). #GoHawks pic.twitter.com/022lME4TLv— Seahawks PR (@seahawksPR) November 5, 2022
Fumble recoveries do involve a fair bit of luck when an oblong ball is bouncing on the ground, but I do believe forcing fumbles has a considerable amount of skill involved. Charles Tillman’s “Peanut Punch” has been copied by many other NFL players, including former Seahawk Byron Maxwell.
Seahawks rookie Coby Bryant has four forced fumbles, while all three of Darrell Taylor’s sacks have been strip sacks. These are game-changing plays that have helped propel Seattle to a 6-3 record and first place in the NFC West.
If you listen to Pete Carroll and the Seahawks coaching staff, it looks like there’s been a renewed and revised emphasis on getting the ball out.
The Seahawks forced three more fumbles yesterday to give them an NFL-high 15. @BrockHuard noted to Pete Carroll on @SeattleSports that Seattle had only nine FFs all of last season. Carroll said they changed a coaching point this offseason with the way they try to get the ball out— Brady Henderson (@BradyHenderson) October 31, 2022
Seahawks defensive coordinator Clint Hurtt explaining some of the team’s teaching techniques for forcing fumbles. Seattle has forced 15, for more than any other team. pic.twitter.com/cmQYaIxOky— Bob Condotta (@bcondotta) November 2, 2022
The fumbles have made up for the lack of interceptions, which haven’t really materialized for anyone but rookie Tariq Woolen, who has four of the five picks on the season. Personnel surely matters in situations like this because Woolen’s probably made more plays on the ball than many post-Legion of Boom corners put together. I’m sure more interceptions come in due time for the rest of the team, especially as the improved pass rush could force rattled quarterbacks into some bad, dangerous throws.
At the moment Seattle’s defense is playing its most complete football in years; punts are getting forced, the run is being stopped, fewer coverages are getting busted, and the ball is being taken away on a consistent basis. It was an insanely bad start to the season for the Seahawks defense, but we’re quickly seeing their potential to be a great unit the rest of the way.