A year ago, the Seahawks finished the season 4th in the league at just 3.8 yards per attempt. No one seemed to notice how good the rush defense was because they were just 15th in the league in total yards given up on the ground. The discrepancy coming from the fact, even though the Seahawks rush defense was very good, teams ran the ball against the Seahawks more than all but 7 other NFL teams.
That is the effect of having such a bad offense. Teams were content to be conservative against the Seahawks, especially after getting a lead. Teams were comfortable running right into the strength of the defense because they knew that shortening the game was more important since the Seahawks offense wasn’t much of the threat to strike back.
So far this season, the rush defense has been even better. The Seahawks are surrendering just 2.6 yards per carry, which is the 2nd best in the league. They’ve also only given up just 96 yards on the ground total (46 yards per game) which is also good for 2nd best in the NFL.
It should also be noted that the Seahawks have played two years that came into the game wanting to run the ball. In both games, the run defense was simply too good and the opposing team decided to abandon the run altogether.
Critics will say that it was because the Seahawks had a lead, and not because of the quality of the defense that caused the Cardinals and Cowboys to abandon the run, but I don’t buy it. Arizona led for most of the first game, and the Seahawks were never ahead by more than a FG, so there was never any reason for AZ to stop running running the ball.
This last week, the Seahawks lead was just 6 until late in the third quarter. Had the Cowboys been capable of running the football against the Seahawks, it would have been to their benefit to do so. Instead, after trying, and failing, to run the ball early in the game, the Cowboys simply abandoned the run altogether for most of the game.
The advanced stats over at Pro Football Focus are only slightly less impressed with the Seahawks run defense. While they have the Seahawks as the best defense in the league (2nd place isn’t even close), they have the Seahawks run defense as only the 5th best overall.
This week doesn’t expect to be a major test for the run defense either. Green Bay is one of the league’s best passing teams, but they aren’t known for their ability to consistently run the football.