In yet another “annual exercise” that ESPN has thrown behind their paywall, senior national reporter Dan Graziano took “some things I’ve come across in my offseason reporting and turn(ed) them forward to predict stuff you aren’t expecting that might just happen.”
Graziano covers one potential surprise for each of the league’s 32 teams, but this is a Seattle Seahawks site so, obviously, that’s the prediction we care about.
Without further ado . . .
Don’t be surprised if ... the Seahawks have a much better run defense this season.
What I’m hearing: Yes, the Seahawks made a bunch of changes up front personnel-wise (Dre’Mont Jones, Jarran Reed and Bobby Wagner), and they hope those will help a unit that allowed more rushing yards per game than all but two teams (150.2) last season and more yards per carry than all but six (4.9). But what really helps is that this will be Year 2 of the new defensive scheme installed last season.
Defensive coordinator Clint Hurtt told me he thought one of last year’s biggest problems was introducing a lot more split-safety looks into the defense than Seattle had run in the past, and that as a result, the run fits were confusing to the guys in the secondary. That should come a lot more naturally this year, and the Seahawks are expecting to be a lot better in that area as a result.
Personally, I think that prediction is spot-on. I don’t know that I’d go as far as to predict Seattle will be in the top-10 in run defense, but “much better” is somewhat subjective and top-20 seems infinitely doable.
Honestly, if Seattle’s offense is as good as we expect it to be, top-10 might be within reach simply because teams that are playing from behind tend to abandon the run . . . and Seattle’s opponents should be playing from behind on a regular basis.
Here are some other potential surprises from Graziano’s piece, starting with our NFC West rivals:
- Arizona: Don’t be surprised if ... there are more trades to come.
- Los Angeles: Don’t be surprised if ... defensive tackle Aaron Donald’s name gets kicked around as the traded deadline creeps closer.
- San Francisco: Don’t be surprised if ... running back Christian McCaffrey has 1,000 yards rushing and 1,000 yards receiving.
- Baltimore: Don’t be surprised if ... wide receiver Zay Flowers is the Offensive Rookie of the Year.
- Cleveland: Don’t be surprised if ... edge rusher Myles Garrett wins Defensive Player of the Year.
- Indianapolis: Don’t be surprised if ... quarterback Anthony Richardson leads the league in interceptions.
- Kansas City: Don’t be surprised if ... the Chiefs get off to a slow start.
- Detroit: Don’t be surprised if ... (OC) Ben Johnson is the hot head-coaching interview candidate in January.
- Minnesota: Don’t be surprised if ... Jordan Addison leads all rookie wide receivers in catches.
- New Orleans: Don’t be surprised if ... the Saints are in the race for the No. 1 seed in the NFC.
- Philadelphia: Don’t be surprised if ... defensive tackle Jalen Carter wins Defensive Rookie of the Year.
I’ll end with a potential surprise of my own . . .
Don’t be surprised if Seattle wins the NFC West and reaches the NFCCG.