Seahawks defensive line took a big hit with the six-game suspension of defensive tackle Jarran Reed. It really could have been much worse.
The Seahawks come into the 2019 season with strong hopes for a deeper run into the playoffs. The chances for simply making the playoffs just took a solid hit with the news that defensive tackle Jarran Reed will be suspended for the first six games of the season. While it may be hard to believe, this could have been far worse. I’m not talking about a longer suspension. I’m talking about the schedule.
First, I agree with co-expert Lee Vowell in that if Reed is indeed guilty, then the suspension is warranted. On the face of it, a suspension for an alleged incident in no charges were filed seems unwarranted. But the punishment is a fait accompli, so there’s no point in arguing the matter. What we can discuss is just how badly this hurts the Seahawks.
Of course, this puts the Seattle defensive line at a severe disadvantage for the first six games of the season. Frank Clark is gone, Ezekiel Ansah’s health is a question mark, and any possible fill-ins for Reed aren’t likely to generate the same pass rush. But the opponents in those first six games are about as favorable for the Seahawks as they could be.
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I’m not about to say the first six games are soft; far from it. Playing at Pittsburgh and hosting New Orleans in the second and third contests of the year wasn’t going to be easy to begin with. The Hawks will face a couple of very dangerous quarterbacks in Ben Roethlisberger and Drew Brees. Without Reed, that task is going to be much tougher. The good news is, neither is a division opponent.
In fact, of Seattle’s first six games, just two are against division rivals. The Seahawks will face the Cardinals in Arizona in week four, then return home for a huge matchup versus the Rams the following week. Any loss will hurt Seattle’s chances to return to the postseason, sure. But of these six games without Reed, not only are just two within the division, but the game against the Saints is the only other conference game. Game one is against the Bengals, and game six will feature the Browns.
So if the Seahawks come out of the first six games in decent shape – and let’s face it, it’s not like Russell Wilson got suspended – there’s a very good chance they’ll still be pushing for a playoff spot. If it comes to a tiebreaker for a wild card position, the first tiebreak is head-to-head results. The second is the record within the conference.
No, I’m not happy that Reed will miss the first six games of the season. But the fact that three of those games aren’t in the conference is good news. At least it gives me more hope than the initial shock of losing the Hawks best returning pass rusher. And as Lee wrote, when Reed does get back on the field he’ll be a huge boost to the defensive line for Seattle’s playoff drive. Small win, big win.