Well, there is one thing that has been made clear after posting my homer perspective: a national audience wasn’t very receptive of my optimism.
Either way, I’ll continue offering my thoughts and optimism. But again, these are the most positive scenarios imaginable (and believable, if you’re a homer).
So here is another dose of homer optimism for everyone:
The Seattle Seahawks will have a defense that statistically ranks in the top half of the league.
Far fetched? Possibly.
And yes, I’m aware that last season’s defense ranked 30th in the NFL last season in total yards allowed per game.
But the Seahawks have an entirely new coaching staff, several new players, and injuries aren’t as widespread and common as last season (yet).
Mike Holmgren is out, Jim Mora is in. Holmgren was an offensive genius and the offensive side of the football was his baby. Over the last decade in Seattle, the focus was always offense; the defense wasn’t exactly an afterthought, but close.
In that regard, Jim Mora is nearly a complete opposite of Mike Holmgren.
Mora was a defensive back at the University of Washington. Defense is his specialty; he brings intensity, tempo, and confidence to a unit that struggled to get off the field last season. In addition, Mora brought with him a very good staff with him to Seattle, replacing most of the defensive coaches from the previous year.
Gus Bradley, although a rookie his in new role as defensive coordinator, was spoken highly of by Monty Kiffin and shares a philosophy similar to that of Mora’s. Dan Quinn, probably capable of being a coordinator in this league, should already be given credit for two undrafted free agents making the football team this season (Derek Walker, Michael Bennett). The front seven have looked spectacular, and a complete 180 degrees difference from last season.
With Mora in town, intensity is back on the defensive side of the ball. And so far, through training camp and preseason, it shows. Fans of the Seahawks can only hope that continues into the regular season.
The preseason is usually meaningless and never a good predictor of the regular season, but Seattle ranked 9th overall in total defense. The team gave up an average of 14.5 points per game. It may not continue through the regular season, but it certainly gives hope and shows a step in the right direction.
And don’t forget the biggest preseason statistic: the Seattle Seahawks led the lead in third-down percentage, allowing opponents to convert only 26% of the time. Defense on third downs has been atrocious in recent years, and drastic improvement will be critical for the team to be successful this season.
To go with a new coaching staff, the Seattle Seahawks also added several pieces to the defense that should pay dividends during the season.
The entire defensive line was swapped, bringing in free agent Colin Cole to play nose tackle and acquiring Cory Redding at left end. Brandon Mebane moves to the under-tackle position, and Patrick Kerney slides over the right side.
In addition to the starting four, Seattle has acquired excellent depth which allows them to work through a solid rotation along the defensive line. Recent draft choices Lawrence Jackson and Red Bryant appear primed for excellent years, and veterans such as Darryl Tapp and Craig Terrill can be productive. And don’t forget about rookies Nick Reed, Michael Bennett, and Derek Walker, who all made the team because of stellar performances in the preseason and training camp.
The Seahawks have been rather small in previous seasons on the defensive line, but this season that shouldn’t be an issue. The average weight of the starting defensive line is nearly 299 pounds. A big, active front four is a perfect recipe for big plays from the linebackers.
Oh, and the Seahawks have a pretty good trio back there.
Lofa Tatupu and Leroy Hill are Pro Bowl-caliber backers. And in last April’s draft, Seattle selected Aaron Curry fourth overall.
Aaron Curry is a phenomenal athlete and should develop into an absolute terror for opposing offenses. From what I’ve seen, he’ll be able to step right in and make an immediate impact.
If Seattle doesn’t struggle through injuries, the defense should be greatly improved. Last season, Kerney, Tatupu, Hill, and several others all struggled through injuries. The injuries helped Seattle build depth, but all of the starters are back now and look ready to contribute.
Injuries, a new coaching staff, and an overhauled defense are just a few reasons why Seattle’s defense will be a top-15 unit in the National Football League this season.