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Clint Hurtt, the Seattle Seahawks, and personnel maximization: The Benson Mayowa Conundrum

San Francisco 49ers v Seattle Seahawks Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images

Clint Hurtt wasted little time in making one thing known: he wants to get more out of the defensive personnel of the Seattle Seahawks in 2022 and beyond. Of course, every defensive coordinator wants to see improvement out of their squad, but Hurtt touched on an issue that has been circling the Seahawks for years on both sides of the line: players like Percy Harvin, Jimmy Graham, and of course Jamal Adams have all come to Seattle as decorated and celebrated players at their position, only to find out that they were tasked with things they weren’t accustomed to. Jamal Adams (coverage), Jimmy Graham (blocking), Percy Harvin (not throwing players into garbage cans)... and these are just some of the biggest examples. If you want to dig deeper, you can, and you will even find some massive success stories (Red Bryant moving to 5-Tech always comes to mind), but also more than a few missteps.

And this hasn’t been limited to players at the top of the roster, either. Looking at the Seahawks’ defensive personnel, exclusively, the team has a number of players who failed to make much of an impact in 2021. But how much of this was related to coaching decisions? Impossible to say precisely, but the tweet below illuminates some of what I am talking about.

According to Pro Football Focus, nearly half of Benson Mayowa’s coverage snaps came in 2021 (115 snaps, out of a career total of 242). Prior to that, he had never topped 40 coverage snaps in a season. Throughout his time in the NFL, he has dropped into coverage about one fifth as frequently as he has rushed the passer (which he has done 2,017 times).

And it isn’t like his effectiveness declined this season; when he did rush the passer, he was just a tick above his career average in efficiency, averaging a pressure on 9.87% of his pass rush snaps. This is actually a higher percentage than he maintained in 2020, when he rushed the passer 376 times and landed a respectable six sacks on the season.

Benson Mayowa is just one example, but this issue obviously spanned the entire Seattle defensive roster last season. Clint Hurtt made it known in his first press conference that he wants to implement some changes this coming season. As Field Gulls own Mookie Alexander detailed Thursday, Hurtt has already established that he wants to put Jamal Adams in a better spot to succeed, and he wants to stop dropping linemen into coverage. Now, it may be too early to crown Clint the savior of this defense... but he is certainly saying the right things so far.