Seahawks defensive grades for their mid-term report card
Seahawks secondary has struggled, but things are looking up
The Seahawks secondary has probably gotten more criticism than any other defensive unit. Seattle’s total of seven interceptions isn’t even half of the league-leading Patriots total. Even worse, the secondary is only responsible for four of those picks. Happily, this is one case where the advanced stats paint a better picture of the players’ actual performance than what we see on the surface.
Let’s start with Tedric Thompson. Despite his two interceptions, he’s clearly been the weak link in the defensive backfield. That’s no longer an issue, as the Hawks just put him on injured reserve. His two picks didn’t even balance his spectacular blown plays. His passer rating allowed, 86.8, was the worst of any defensive back targeted at least 10 times, and it wasn’t even close.
Here’s the good news. All the other key players have been much better. Let’s start with the starting cornerbacks Tre Flowers and Shaquill Griffin. While Flowers has just one interception and Griffin none, they’ve both been effective defenders. Flowers has allowed a passer rating of 77.7, while Griffin’s rate is 77.1. Both could improve their tackling, as they’ve both missed on about 14 percent of their attempts. Add in nickel corner Jamar Taylor, who hasn’t missed a single tackle and allowed a passer rating of 76.9, and the Seahawks corners are solid across the board.
At safety, the picture is even better. Marquise Blair has taken over Thompson’s role and has been a major upgrade. His passer rating allowed is 79.4, and his 18 tackles are just one less than Thompson racked up in three times as many starts. The future is bright with Blair. The Seahawks new addition, Quandre Diggs, will be able to step into either safety role or play slot corner. He’ll just be subbing at safety, as long as the Hawks strong safety stays healthy.
That gentleman would be Bradley McDougald. He only has 25 tackles, one interception, and two pass defenses. Doesn’t sound like much, right? Part of that low count is due to the fact he’s only been targeted 19 times. What’s phenomenal about McDougald is that he’s only allowed seven completions. His passer rating allowed is a ridiculously low 26.6. Remember, the average passer rating in the NFL last year was 92.0. McDougald is a stealth monster. His rating is a point better than Earl Thomas’s 27.7 – and yes, it sure would have been nice if the Hawks had kept him. Overall, the secondary could force more turnovers, but they’re not the problem. The DBs get a B.
And now we come back to coaching. Ken Norton Jr.’s insistence on playing so much base defense is bleeding the Hawks defenders dry. Week after week, opposing coordinators are exploiting bad matchups against Seattle linebackers. That’s what happens when your primary nickel corner sees about a fourth as many snaps as your starting corners. I’ll get into this at greater depth in another piece. For now, I’ll just say I see the strategy as deeply flawed. The defensive coaching, a C-.