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Seahawks Film Breakdown: A look at Seattle’s terrible run defense

What went wrong with the Seahawks run defense this season?

Seattle Seahawks v Arizona Cardinals Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

The Seattle Seahawks run defense this year, much like last year, was just awful. They allowed the second-most rushing yards, were tied for the second-most rushing touchdowns against, and were tied for the fifth-most yards allowed per attempt. Particularly over the back-end of the season, it almost felt as if every single time a team ran the ball against this defense it was surprising if it went for fewer than four yards.

Usually when a team struggles this badly in one area you can point to injuries. But outside of Uchenna Nwosu, Seattle had their stars for most of the season. Bobby Wagner, Jordyn Brooks, Dre’Mont Jones, Darrell Taylor, and Jarran Reed all played 16 or more games. Also not included on that list is trade deadline acquisition Leonard Williams who played 10 games after being acquired from the New York Giants. So if it wasn’t injuries, what led to the struggles for the Seattle run defense? A mixture of poor tackling, bad edge contain and below average gap integrity.

vs. Steelers: Jaylen Warren 18-yard touchdown

Jaylen Warren ran in between the tackles here and there was not a single Seahawks defender who was even close to getting a hand on him. Bobby Wagner was a bit aggressive jumping outside on this play, as I think he should’ve attacked Darnell Washington’s inside shoulder. Since there were defenders outside of him who were containing the edge, it’s a decision that does not make much sense.

Once Wagner goes outside the only defenders with a chance at bringing him down are Quandre Diggs, who cheats to the outside, and Devin Bush, who is doing nothing. Rather than staying inside and in his gap, Bush for some reason decides to flow outside and then just get washed out of the play by the offensive lineman.

vs. Steelers: Najee Harris 12-yard game clinching run

With a 7-man box for the Seahawks against six Steelers blockers this is embarrassingly easy for Pittsburgh. It starts with a beautiful wham block from tight end Darnell Washington on Boye Mafe ,as he is just quick enough to come across and take Mafe out of the play. Where Seattle lost the numerical advantage on this play was with Bobby Wagner and Julian Love, as both of them collapsed down and took the left B gap. If Wagner was more patient and instead took the left A gap, at the minimum he takes on the center and fills the gap Najee Harris hit.

vs. 49ers: Christian McCaffrey 72-yard run

As Bill Barnwell says, this run is all because of the fact the Seattle defense badly over pursued Christian McCaffrey to the outside. At the time in which he cuts it back and gets his shoulders pointing the other way, there are five Seahawks defenders who are to the outside of McCaffrey compared to two 49ers.

The majority of the blame for this has to be placed on Jamal Adams and Jordyn Brooks who get forced outside far far too easily by 49ers lineman. From there, McCaffrey does not have to do a whole lot to pick up a massive chunk on the ground.

vs. 49ers: Christian McCaffrey 22-yard run

Jamal Adams is far too passive on this play. If he was more aggressive in taking on Deebo Samuel and tries to go through him rather than staying to the side, he likely blows up this running play for a gain of a couple of yards. The next piece of blame needs to be placed on Bobby Wagner who looks a bit sluggish in getting to the outside. Then once he gets his hands on CMC the running back is able to throw him off and pick up another 10 yards. The 49ers do deserve some credit as this is a very well blocked outside zone run, but Seattle simply had to do better.

vs. Cardinals: James Conner 26-yard run

If Dre’Mont Jones attacks straight downhill there is a chance he would’ve been able to bring down Conner, but he slid inside which made him a step late. Jordyn Brooks does deserve considerable blame on this play as well. Having dealt with an ankle injury, he looks a shell of himself, as he is extremely sluggish in getting to his left which results in him barely even being able to get a finger on Conner.

vs. Cardinals: James Conner 29-yard touchdown

This is just way too easy. Boye Mafe contains the edge here, which he is supposed to do. After that, it is tough to say the Seattle defense really did anything right here. Jordyn Brooks steps down to the line of scrimmage, way too much which causes him to get lost in a sea of bodies, and Dre’Mont Jones can’t hold up to the double team which sees him get turns to the inside. If Brooks stays patient rather than crashing down hill right away this play probably goes down as a pick up of five or six yards. Instead, Conner scores on a run befitting of Seattle’s poor run defense.