The Seahawks defense has played infinitely better the past three weeks. Or at least it seems to be the case. We’ll know if the improvement is real when they face their first real test in over a month when they face the Packers.
If you’ve read many of my posts, you know I try to stay positive. I try to see the best in our players and coaches – my gosh, I even extolled the virtues of Eddie Lacy at first.
Now it looks like I may have to eat some crow regarding my lambasting of defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr. The Seahawks defense has played much better over the past three games, after all. Clearly, Norton has found the formula for success, right?
I’m not so sure that’s the case. Let’s look at the stats – after all, stats don’t lie. Over their first five games, the Hawks allowed an average of 451 yards per game. Take out their first win over the Colts – which looks like a complete anomaly – and the average jumps to 480 yards per game. Over those four critical games the Seahawks surrendered 27.5 points per game. Seattle was 1-3 in those games, as you know.
Seahawks defense might be better lately but untested
Apparently tired of getting destroyed through the air – they allowed at least 313 yards passing in each of those four games – the Seahawks started playing 14 defensive backs. Okay, not quite, but there’s no doubt that going to a dime package made a huge difference in their pass defense. It definitely helped to move D.J. Reed to right cornerback and get both Sidney Jones and rookie Tre Brown in the lineup. Over the past three games Seattle has allowed an average of 221 yards passing, with a high of just 227. That is consistently great play.
But let’s look at the competition. When the Hawks were getting torched through the air, the teams that were slaughtering them ranked 21st, 8th, 15th, and 4th in passing yards. We all know Derrick Henry is who killed the Hawks, but the Titans did get 320 yards through the air, too. In the last three wins the Seahawks opponents rank 16th, 31st, and 18th in passing yardage. That’s an average ranking of 12th in the stampedes versus 22nd in the solid performances. The short-hand version – it’s easier to shut down Trevor Lawrence than Matthew Stafford.
And that brings me to the Hawks upcoming test. They have a bye week now – thankfully, as we may get Russell Wilson back. But DangeRuss doesn’t play defense. The challenge for the defense will be facing the Packers. As you know, they have a quarterback who’s pretty good, even if he is kind of old. Aaron Rodgers has thrown 17 touchdown passes against just 3 interceptions. His 105.7 passer rating ranks seventh in the league. Wilson ranks first, by the way.
Yes, I know Jameis Winston ranks 10th in passer rating, and the Hawks nearly shut him down – and would have if it weren’t for that darned Alvin Kamara. As you’ll recall, the weather was less than conducive to the passing game. Outside of the spectacular 84-yard touchdown to DK Metcalf, Geno Smith managed just 83 yards through the air.
Okay 12s, for those of you who are bottom-line types, you’ve reached it. No, I’m not sold that the Seahawks defense is fixed. I don’t particularly care that they held the Steelers, Saints and Jaguars in check. The Saints are good, but as noted above, the weather likely did more to shut them down than our D. The Steelers are just 4-3, and the Jags are – well, they’re the Jags. Keep Aaron Rodgers in check, keep the Packers from running up the score, and I’m a believer.