Seahawks defense has made substantial turnaround in second half of season
Seattle Seahawks safety Jamal Adams said after Sunday’s win over the Los Angeles Rams that he believes they have the best defense in the NFL.
Such a comment would have been unfathomable and patently absurd for the team at the midpoint of the season after a 44-34 loss to the Buffalo Bills. And while for the season as a whole, the Seahawks have zero chance of pulling themselves out of the bottom end of the defensive rankings statistically, they have completely turned around their performance on defense the second half of the year.
In the seven games since the loss in Buffalo, the Seahawks Defense is allowing a league-best 15 points per game. Their 24 sacks over that span is tied for most in the league with the Rams and Arizona Cardinals. They also rank third in yards per game, sixth in passing yards per game.
“We were so uncharacteristic, and so off and all that. That was like the final straw,” head coach Pete Carroll said Monday. “We had to make sure that we adjusted, and figured it out and tweaked it and all of that.”
How bad were they after the Bills game? The 44 points allowed to the Bills was the most ever in the Pete Carroll era in Seattle. The Seahawks were allowing 362.1 passing yards per game and on pace to allow 5,794 passing yards for the full season. No team in NFL history has allowed more passing yards than the 4,796 yards given up by the 2011 Green Bay Packers. This year’s Seattle team was on pace to exceed that mark by nearly a thousand yards.
“There was times during the season here when everybody had enough statistics to go ahead and blow us out like we weren’t worth anything on defense,” Carroll said after Sunday’s win. “This defense is good, and they’ve shown it, and they’ve declared it and this is the kind of defense that we played in years past when we were really a good team down the end of the stretch.”
Over the seven games since the loss to Buffalo, the Seahawks are allowing just 203 passing yards per game and are no longer on record setting pace. The midseason acquisition of Carlos Dunlap from the Cincinnati Bengals, a return to health from Jamal Adams, Shaquill Griffin and others, and time to get on the same page with a number of changing pieces finally allowed the unit to come together.
The schedule also softened to where a stretch of games against the Philadelphia Eagles, New York Giants, New York Jets and Washington Football Team also played a factor. It’s why Sunday’s performance against the Rams — a team that had beat them five of the last six times they’d faced — was a benchmark outing for the unit.
“We figured it out and guys are just being accountable,” linebacker K.J. Wright said. “We’re communicating like no other. just to hear guys’ voices each and every play is just truly special. Defense wins championships. We know that going down the stretch it’s gonna be some tough, tough battles. Playoff time is around the corner and defense always wins championships.”
The Seahawks could still finish as the league’s worst pass defense statistically. They still rank last in the league just barely behind the Atlanta Falcons. But they are no longer playing like that kind of defense. The turnaround on that side of the ball could be the biggest reason the Seahawks will be a tough team to dispatch in the playoffs.