Okay, so cornerback isn’t the only trouble spot on the Seahawks defense. With the exception of the otherworldly Bobby Wagner, the linebacker play has been, shall we say, subpar? Not that we need Pro Football Focus to tell us something so obvious, but let’s check the grades anyway. Wagner grades out at 66.6. That’s 13th in the league and by far the worst ranking of his career. I’d say that’s in no small part due to trying to play the Sam, Will, and Mike because his cohorts aren’t exactly up to his standard.
Jordyn Brooks has looked great at times. but far too often, he’s been exposed in coverage. The Hawks pulled him and inserted Ryan Neal in a dime package against the Niners on more than a third of their plays. We can expect to see more of this, or should, anyway, as Neal has been excellent in the role. Brooks, meanwhile, rates a very mediocre 48.7 from PFF, 48th in the league. If you add in all linebackers, not just those with the minimum snap count, Brooks is ranked at 101. That is ugly. Fear not, 12s; it gets worse.
This brings us to Cody Barton. The promise we saw last season has almost completely disappeared. Pro Football Focus rates Barton at 32.8. Out of the150 linebackers PFF rated Barton ranks 141st. That’s…that’s not good. That rating is certainly no surprise to anyone who’s watched the Seahawks. He’s been relegated to special teams for the past two games now, and I doubt we’ll see that change anytime soon. Unless… well, we’ll get to that.
The real crime here is that the team could have brought K.J. Wright back. Yes, it would have cost money, and yes that would have been tricky. But does anyone doubt that this defense would have been miles better with Wright in the fold? It would literally be yards better, for sure. So how is Mr. Wright doing in his exile, out there in Vegas? PFF rates Wright at 60.8, which places him 54th among all linebackers. Not stellar, not amazing, but (again literally) yards better than either Brooks or Barton.
I believe it’s too soon to say that this is a lost season for the Seahawks, even with the loss of Russell Wilson for as long as six weeks. Teams have rallied behind backups before and marched into the playoffs. The real issue here isn’t the missed time of Wilson. It’s the missed opportunity this defense has, squandering talent like Wagner, Adams, Taylor, and more. The defense has been terrible, and while the additions of Sherman and Wright could have made a big difference, the problems of the team would remain. And that, 12s, lies on the shoulders of just one man. And that, dear 12s, is my next story.