That groaning sound you’re hearing? It’s not a squeaky floorboard in your staircase, nor is it your arthritic neighbor struggling to roll out of bed in the morning.
No, that is the sound emanating from places like New Orleans and Green Bay. The Seattle Seahawks now have a defense? Aw man!
The Seahawks improved to 8-3 with their 23-17 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles on Monday night at Lincoln Financial Field, and the most ominous development for the rest of the NFC was the continued progress made by Seattle’s defense.
For most of the season Seattle’s defense leaked yards like an over-corroded water main. The Seahawks were on pace to shatter the NFL record for most passing yards allowed in a season, and the mark for most total yards allowed was also within reach. When Seattle was 6-1 through seven games it was 100% because of the offense and special teams and 0% because of the defense. The team’s Super Bowl hopes seemed to rest squarely upon the shoulders of quarterback Russell Wilson.
But on Monday it was the defense that led the way for the Seahawks, and two straight solid performances by the D has to be worrying news for the NFC’s other contenders.
“There’s always something negative about the Seattle Seahawks, I’ve kind of witnessed that over the past couple of weeks since I’ve been here,” Seattle safety Jamal Adams barked after the game. “We are 8-3. Damn, that feels good! Let’s talk about that. All the negative, let’s miss all that, this was a team win.
“We’re coming together, man,” Adams added about the defense’s positive performance. “Everybody’s getting healthy, we’re starting to understand the defense as a whole, we’re playing together, we’re playing as one, and like I said from the beginning we knew what we had, we knew what type of talent we had, it was just a matter of time. We understood people outside, they were going to chirp. But at the end of the day we knew who we were as a team.”
Monday’s game was statistically Seattle’s best defensive game of the season. The Seahawks limited the Eagles to 250 yards, including just 180 through the air, both of which were season lows. Seattle forced Philadelphia to go three-and-out on its first five possessions, just the second time a defense has accomplished that feat in the NFL this season. The Seahawks sacked Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz six times, the second-most sacks Seattle’s had in a game this year.
This came one week after Seattle’s defense also set season lows for yards allowed and passing yards allowed in a 28-21 victory over the Arizona Cardinals.
The biggest factor in the defensive turnaround has been the improvement by the pass rush, and that improvement coincides with the acquisition of defensive end Carlos Dunlap from Cincinnati at the trade deadline. Prior to Dunlap’s arrival Seattle was only able to generate pressure on the passer by blitzing, and that in turn left gaps in the secondary for opposition quarterbacks to exploit. But Dunlap, a two-time Pro Bowler, has 3.5 sacks in his four games with the Seahawks, and during those four games Seattle is averaging 4.75 sacks per contest versus just 1.71 per game in the previous seven.
The Seahawks are no longer dependent upon a blitzing Adams to put some heat on the quarterback.
“A lot of guys contributed to (the six sacks), which is great,” Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said. “Carlos had a couple really good rushes, of course. I don’t know what Jamal had but he was involved, too. Bobby (Wagner) had a couple great rushes where we maybe didn’t get the sack but we got a pressure. Everybody’s hitting it. (Defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr.) is doing a really nice job of mixing the calls and utilizing the personnel and keeping them off balance, and it’s great that everybody’s benefiting.”
We shouldn’t get too carried away, as there are reasons to tap the brakes on the celebrations. Dunlap came away from Monday’s game with a sore foot that still needed to be evaluated, and the hapless Eagles offense didn’t present Seattle’s defense with the greatest challenge. But things are trending in the right direction.
And it’s not like the Seahawks need the defense to be Legion-of-Boom great. Seattle’s offense didn’t have its best game Monday, but the Seahawks still rank third in the league in both points and yards per game. With Wilson overcoming his turnover woes, receiver DK Metcalf turning into the next Calvin “Megatron” Johnson, and Chris Carson back from his foot injury to serve as the bowling ball at running back, an adequate defense may be all Seattle needs.
“The swagger is thorough the roof, man,” Adams said. “We’re playing with a lot of swagger, we’re playing with as lot of confidence.”
And that is migraine inducing for the rest of the NFC.
Follow Nick Patterson on Twitter at @NickHPatterson.