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Seahawks' run defense has been better than advertised

Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

From Mr. Faulk: "Let's get professional: Great craftsmanship can come from a beautiful drive, a well-executed blitz, or even a high-arcing punt that pins a team down on the one. GMC takes great pride in the craftsmanship of its vehicles. At the quarter mark of the season, what has been the most well-crafted aspect of your team so far?"


To answer Marshall's question, I believe one of the most important and most well-crafted aspects for the Seahawks has been the run defense through three games. This was a major concern going into this season because of the loss of Red Bryant and Chris Clemons, two veterans with a lot of experience in Pete Carroll's defense, a defense that focuses first on stopping the run to make an opponent one-dimensional.

Taking Red's place is a re-signed Tony McDaniel and a free agent acquisition in Kevin Williams. Both historically very strong run defenders, the two have worked together well, along with Brandon Mebane, to make opposing teams' rushing attacks thus far minimally effective.

Through three games, Seattle has given up 2.8 yards per carry to opposing backs -- tied for best in the NFL -- and have allowed only 72 yards per game to opposing teams, good for fourth in the NFL behind the Jets, Lions, and Cardinals.

Per DVOA, Seattle's run defense is ranked 5th, and they come in 10th in PFF's run defense grade.

Seattle held the Packers to 80 yards on 21 tries, or 3.8 yards per rush. This included 2013 All Pro Eddie Lacy rushing for 34 yards on 12 totes (2.8 YPC). Against a stubborn San Diego team, the Hawks gave up 101 yards on the ground, but the Chargers had to eek that out over 37 carries, an average of 2.7 yards per rush. Ryan Matthews, who left that game early, could only manage 31 yards on 11 carries. Denver's ground game was taken almost completely out of the equation last week, as they rushed 20 times for 36 yards. Montee Ball could only muster 38 yards on 14 totes.

So, despite worries that were generated in the preseason with some leaky run defense and failures to set the edge, Seattle has played well in that part of their scheme. This allows the pass rush to pin their ears back and rush on third downs when they know a pass in coming, and this will in turn hopefully lead to some more turnovers created.

The true test of the run defense is coming down the pike, though. Seattle has a bye this week but will face Washington next (7th in rush DVOA), then Dallas (6th in rush DVOA), two strong running teams.

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