Through two weeks of preseason, the Seattle Seahawks offense has been a unique kind of unwatchable; fortunately, their defense has generally been considerably better than that. Maybe they haven’t set the preseason on fire, exactly, but they have also featured some impressive performances from players who were otherwise relatively anonymous heading into 2022. Last week, I featured rookie UDFA Vi Jones, who finished Week 1 with a handful of tackles and a sack. In Week 2, I am keeping it on the defensive side of the ball, but with a focus on a veteran defensive back.
While exciting rookies Coby Bryant and Tariq Woolen have been getting a fair amount of attention throughout training camp and into the preseason, veteran defenders Mike Jackson and Josh Jones have received a lot of playing time through the first couple games. Below are the snap counts and rec/allowed for the top 5 defensive backs on Seattle’s roster, by playing time. For a full snap Week 2 count breakdown, check out the Snap Reactions post from Friday morning.
Seahawks top 5 DBs by snap counts through two preseason games, per to PFF:— Stan "the Soy Boy" Taylor (@GoodGuyAtSports) August 22, 2022
Tariq Woolen - 86 snaps, 3/7 rec, 42.9%, 1 TD
Mike Jackson - 86 snaps, 4/9 rec, 44.4%
Marquise Blair - 74 snaps 2/2, 100%
Josh Jones - 72 snaps 1/2, 50%
Coby Bryant - 68 snaps 6/9, 66.7%, 1 TD
Obviously, the team is prioritizing getting a good look at their newly formed corps of defenders, as Sidney Jones, Artie Burns and Tre Brown remain sidelined. While they are likely hoping that the rookie draftees will continue to make strides as they find their bearings in the NFL, they also have to be pleased to see a couple under-the-radar vets like Jackson and Jones making plays. Josh Jones really stood out to me, in particular, on Thursday. During the team’s first defensive series, he mixed it up with tight end Kole Kmet a couple times (one of which you can see below), and he made a drive ending tackle on running back Khalil Herbert that sent out the Chicago Bears kicking unit.
Josh Jones had two plays that stood out in the Seahawks first defensive series last Thursday; the first was just tight coverage on a pass that was probably incomplete anyway, but he had Kmet locked. The second was a drive ending tackle on Khalil Herbert that looked oh so smooth. pic.twitter.com/FYWQ0r93nm— Stan "the Soy Boy" Taylor (@GoodGuyAtSports) August 22, 2022
Impressively, both of these plays came against what is more or less the Bears’ first team offense; that is to say, Jones got an opportunity to play in something resembling actual regular season action, and he rose to the occasion with ease. As you can see in the first play, Fields dumps off a short pass to Kmet, which probably either goes for no-gain/short gain out of bounds regardless, but it is still impressive to see the closing speed of Josh Jones to ensure that this play stops dead in its tracks. Flash forward to the penultimate play of the drive, and he once again displays his Jamal Adams-like ability to impersonate a heat-seeking tackle machine, this time against a running back on a swing pass out of the backfield. Plays like this can be maddeningly frustrating to watch on Sundays if they aren’t well defended, so seeing this team amass players who have the speed and instincts to shut down dump offs and check downs is a welcome sight for us all.
For a bit of backstory on Josh Jones, he was drafted in the second round by the Green Bay Packers in 2017; he played college football for the North Carolina State Wolfpack, which is somewhat ironically also the Alma Mater of last week’s performer, Vi Jones. After getting relegated to 2nd string by then-Packers coach Mike McCarthy, he was promoted to a starting role upon the former’s termination, but then ultimately waived with a non-football illness designation, which — according to Acme Packing Company — was a result of a thyroid condition. He ultimately made his way to Seattle in 2021, and received some playing time at the end of the season after being called up from the practice squad, so he isn’t entirely unknown to the team and fans. His 32” arms and 4.4. speed are exactly the kind of physicality that Pete Carroll still craves on the back end of the defense. This is what Dallas Cooper of FanNation had to say of Jones:
“Jones, a former second-round pick out of North Carolina State, entered the NFL as a hyper athletic safety who ran a (4.41) 40 yard dash and posted 20 reps during the bench press portion of his combine workout. After starting more than 20 games during stints with the Packers, Colts, and Jaguars, he joined the Seahawks late in the 2021 season as a practice squad signing and earned a spot start in the season finale, impressing in that contest with 10 tackles and a pass breakup in coverage. Being that safety is one of the team’s strengths in terms of depth and talent with Quandre Diggs and Jamal Adams headlining the group, Jones will have to continue to show off his athleticism and provide special teams value in order to make the roster after re-signing this spring.”
Cooper went on to say this: “However, that still may not be enough for him to make the team with the likes of Marquise Blair, Ryan Neal, and Ugo Amadi set to return.” Now, as you may have noticed, the team no longer has Ugo Amadi on the roster, and Marquise Blair has been struggling with missed tackles and generally just looking unimpressive, so maybe this hill to climb is becoming a bit more surmountable than it was initially for Jones.
Drafted primarily as a Strong Safety, Jones has bounced around a bit; he has spent time in coverage and in the box, and even got some looks at linebacker in Green Bay, where he actually excelled and got to display his sharp tackling instincts, according to Evan Western. This kind of versatility will definitely be welcome in Seattle’s defense if he can continue to look as solid as he has so far. Essentially, he seems like the kind of player who could settle in nicely to a role behind Jamal Adams and Ryan Neal, especially if he can become a reliable special teams contributor. Regardless of the ultimate outcome, I have had a lot of fun watching Josh Jones in some preseason action; he seems to be taking every chance to seize the opportunity and demonstrate why he belongs on the team’s roster. With only one more game left before the official season kicks off, I will definitely be watching how Jones looks when the Seattle Seahawks travel to take on the Dallas Cowboys on Friday!