Aug 30, 2012; Seattle, WA, USA; Seattle Seahawks defensive tackle Jaye Howard (94) celebrates after forcing an Oakland Raiders safety during the 2nd half at CenturyLink Field. Seattle defeated Oakland 21-3. Mandatory Credit: Steven Bisig-US PRESSWIRE

2012 Seattle Seahawks: Defensive Preview


Well 12th Man, we have arrived. A little over 24 hours from now and the 2012 season will be underway for the ‘Hawks. With that, let’s take a look at one of the best defensive units in the NFL. (Players listed in the order they appear on the latest depth chart)

Left Defensive End
1. Red Bryant

2. Jason Jones

3. Greg Scruggs

-  The “Elephant” position in Pete Carroll’s defensive scheme, these Defensive Tackles are moved out to the End position to use their bulk against the run, but their deceptive speed to get to the passer. In years past, “Big Red” Bryant has manned this position handsomly as a strong run stopper and now recently has shown good burst in getting to the passer. Look for Bryant as a 3 down player now, with Jones, who is more of a pass rushing specialist, to be on the field on 3rd and long. Don’t be surprised to see them on the field together at times as well. Scruggs, a rookie out of Louisville, made this team with solid, ferocious play in the preseason. He has the makings of a special player down the road that will only benefit from the wealth of experience on the Seahawks D-Line.

Left Defensive Tackle

1.  Red Bryant2.  Jaye Howard

- Expect to see a lot of rotating up front, but this is how the depth chart breaks down the position. Branch was a revelation last year for the Seahawks, being brought in via Free Agency, this former 1st round pick looks to have found his stride and is looking every bit the part. Disruptive, and aggressive, Branch will be a key to the Seahawks not only maintaining their run-stopping ability, but also improving a much needed pass rush. Howard is another rookie on the Defensive Line, out of Florida, who also has the makings of a future stud. Look for increased reps from both he, and Scruggs as the season wears on.

Right Defensive Tackle

1.  Brandon Mebane

2. Clinton McDonald

- Mebane continues to be the plug in the middle, taking on double team blocks, and creating space for the Seahawks linebackers to clean up the run. A powerful force in the middle, Mebane remains a key to the Seahawks aggressive style of play. McDonald returns as a capable backup in what will be a heavy rotation in the multiple looks the Seahawks defense likes to use to create matchup confusion for opposing offenses. Look for a variety of lineup combinations with the entire defensive line. All will play.

Right Defensive End

1. Chris Clemons

2. Bruce Irvin

- Clemons returns as the Seahawks most feared pass rusher. A savvy vet with a ferocious assortment of power, and speed to get to the quarterback, it’s no secret that the ‘Hawks look to Clemons to continue his All-Pro worthy play. Irvin comes in as the heir apparent. Blessed with good size and blazing speed, Irvin will be utilized in numerous roles in the defense playing behind Clemons and learning from one of the game’s best. There will be numerous occasions that both men are on the field together. An Offensive Coordinators worst nightmare.

Left Outside Linebacker

1. Leroy Hill

2. Malcolm Smith

- Leroy Hill, along with Trufant, are the lone remaining players from the 2005 Super Bowl team. Hill has a nose for the ball, and great lateral speed. A solid tackler with a high football IQ, Hill will be a valuable asset to a young linebacker core. Malcolm Smith returns from an injured rookie season. Smith is lightning quick, and the hope is, with maintained health, he’ll ascend to replace the aging Hill.

Middle Linebacker

1. Bobby Wagner

2. Heath Farwell

- The biggest question mark on the defense will be the rookie Wagner. Drafted out of Utah State, Wagner has shown great promise as one teammate dubbed him, “Baby Patrick Willis”. While it’s still too early to validate the comparison, Wagner obviously has pleased the Seahawks coaching staff to the point that recently acquired Barrett Ruud was traded. Leroy Hill will help Wagner become acclimated to making in-game calls and adjustments, helping take a lot of pressure off the rookie and allowing him to use his natural ability to attack the ball and utilize his great size and speed. Farwell is a solid backup, whose special team contributions are invaluable. A great locker room presence, and leader.

Right Outside Linebacker

1. K.J. Wright

2. Mike Morgan

- K.J. Wright has finally found a home on the right side after a rookie season in which he was used mostly at Middle Linebacker to fill the absence of David Hawthorne. A versatile beast, Wright flies to the ball and has an obvious field general approach. He will also provide coaching support for the rookie Wagner. A sure tackling force and a ball-hawking style of play, Wright always is around the ball and oppressing the oppositions attempt to stretch plays to the boundary. Mike Morgan is another USC alum, along with Malcolm Smith, who is being developed and is a valuable Special Teams contributor.

Left Cornerback

1. Richard Sherman

2. Marcus Trufant

3. Byron Maxwell

- Sherman had, what many argue, a Pro-Bowl season last year, and returns as one of the premier corners in the NFL. At 6’3”, and a linebacker type mentality, “The Shermanator” is always around the ball and is a force in run support. With the height to cover the bigger receivers in the NFL, and the speed to keep the play in front of him, Sherman teams with Brandon Browner as one of the best corner tandems in the league. Marcus Trufant is the hometown hero, brought back to the team to provide his invaluable experience, and playmaking ability as the Nickel Back. A starter on most teams, it shows the amazing depth the Seahawks have at DB. A former All-Pro coming off the bench. Lovin’ it. Byron Maxwell spent his rookie season injured, and looks to be a solid Special Teams contributor as he learns from Trufant.

Right Cornerback

1. Brandon Browner

2. Jeremy Lane

- Browner is the other side of the “Twin Towers” at corner for the Seahawks. 6’4” 221lbs, Browner is a huge physical presence. Everyone knows his story, playing in the CFL after graduating from Oregon State. Pete Carroll called on Browner, and he answered, making the team out of training camp last season, and ultimately ending up on the Pro Bowl roster. Like Sherman, Browner loves to play aggressive and provides solid run support to go along with his sometimes overly aggressive pass coverage. Look for Browner to continue his success in his 2nd full season as a starter. Jeremy Lane makes this team as a rookie. A presence around the ball, he also plays the aggressive type of play the Seahawks look to utilize.

Strong Safety

1. Kam Chancellor

2. Jeron Johnson

3. Winston Guy

- Kam Chancellor, AKA “Bam Bam”, is the Thunder to Earl Thomas’ Lightning. An All-Pro in his 2nd season, Chancellor returns as arguably the best Strong Safety in the NFL. A feared hitter, with deceptive speed, at 6’3” 232lbs, he’s built more like a linebacker with Cornerback speed. A nightmare for receivers coming across the middle. He is supplemented by Jeron Johnson, and Winston Guy. Both aggressive tacklers  the Strong Safety position for the Seahawks is a turnover creating, depth riddled gem.

Free Safety

1. Earl Thomas

2. Chris Maragos

- Earl Thomas, “ET”, is arguably the best Free Safety in the NFL. A ball-hawk in every sense of the term, he’s on most pundits short-list as a perennial All-Pro. Together with Chancellor, the Seahawks have one of the, if not THE, best safety duo in the NFL. Maragos is a scrappy player who will help on Special Teams and dime situations.

So there it is 12th Man, the 2012 Seattle Seahawks Defense. With a great combination of veteran leadership, youth, and depth up front, speed and sure tackling at linebacker, and the “Legion of Boom” in the Defensive Backfield, the 2012 version of the Seahawks defense is sure to keep Offensive Coordinators up at night, along with the rest of the opposing offense.

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