Seahawks off-season progress: the defensive edition

GLENDALE, AZ - NOVEMBER 09: Running back Thomas Rawls
GLENDALE, AZ - NOVEMBER 09: Running back Thomas Rawls /
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Seahawks defensive line
SEATTLE, WA – DECEMBER 24: The Seattle Seahawks defense converge on running back David Johnson #31 of the Arizona Cardinals at CenturyLink Field on December 24, 2016 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images) /

Seahawks Off-Season progress: Defense

When I look at our off-season progress on defense, it clearly feels like the news is about the departures.  However, when I look closely at where we stand right now, I see a defense that makes me think of the Seahawks not too distant past. A defense void of some big names, but still big on talent.   A defense focused on stopping the run and imposing their will early, and harassing the quarterback with pure pass rushers on later downs.

I see a defense that should be fun to watch.

Seahawks Defensive Line

Defensive End:

Frank Clark, Dion Jordan, Marcus Smith, Branden Jackson

Frank Clark has proven to be a good player who can put pressure on the quarterback.  He has been 2nd or 3rd on our list the past two seasons as a pass rusher.  It is time he steps into the very big shoes that Michael Bennett had left.  He has the size to play that hybrid role where he can move inside for pass rushing as well.

Dion Jordan was a first round talent for a reason.  He seems to have it all together finally, he showed very well last season.  In five games he produced 4 sacks.  We hope that magic can continue, but on a more consistent basis.

Marcus Smith is purely a pass rusher.  As a player who can come in on pass rushing downs, he shows excellent burst around the corner and should be a good role player.

Branden Jackson was a decent player last year, but I am not sure he is anything more than depth right now.

Need:  Expect the Seahawks to add another pass rusher.  The change this season was to get back to the old philosophy of stop the run, then bring in as many pass rushers as possible to put heat on the quarterback.  There are still some decent pass rushers on the free agent market, but I expect the 12’s to be cheering for a pass rusher from this years draft.

Seattle Seahawks
Seattle Seahawks /

Seattle Seahawks

Defensive Tackle:

Jarran Reed, Naz Jones, Tom Johnson, Shamar Stephen, Garrison Smith, Malik McDowell

Jarran Reed is an ideal run stuffer.  Big, strong and immovable.  He is becoming a better pass rusher, but his role here is as a run stopper.

Naz Jones is a combo guy.  He can get after the passer a bit and stop the run.  Jones game is based on a  very quick first step where he gets up field.

Tom Johnson is that situation pass rusher.  Johnson was a starter for the Vikings last year.  That was a very good defense and he played very well.  Johnson has always been known for his inside pass rush presence.  This is the skill set he would bring to Seattle.  I don’t think he starts for us, simply because we want him focusing on getting after the quarterback.  Last year his pass rush numbers were down, but he started for the Vikings.  The amount of plays he was on the field likely dropped his numbers a bit.  If we needed him to start, he could in a pinch.

Shamar Stephen is a run stopper.  He will likely back up Jones.  His skill is run stopping.  If he starts, it would be to create a rotation where we get the 2 run stuffers in on run downs and bring Jones and Johnson in on pass downs.

Smith and McDowell are off the radar at the moment.  Will McDowell play?  Probably not.  Smith is the 5th man in our rotation right now and likely won’t move up that list.


This group feels more like the groups we had in our 2011-2013 years.  People who specialize at a skill and that is their role.  Remember our early defensive lines featured Red Bryant, Tony McDaniel, Mebane and Clemons with Bennett and Avril came in on passing downs to create an elite pass rushing group.  While we don’t have those types of names, this time around, the idea is the same.