It’s been an up and down seven weeks for the Seattle Seahawks defense. If we are being completely honest, there’s been more down than up.
Seattle ranks in the bottom half of the league in points allowed (20th), total yards (16th), passing yards (19th) and rushing defense (17th). In addition, the group has posted a negative EPA (expected points added; an advanced metric that tracks momentum-swinging plays) in all seven games this season. That number bottomed out at -10.94 against the Rams in Week 5.
“I think the consistency is where I would love to see us improve,” Bobby Wagner said on Wednesday. “Where week in, week out, you know what you’re getting, everybody’s on the same page, and that’s what I feel the great defenses are. They are consistent, and I think what we need to improve on is getting a little bit more sacks, and having more game changing plays or turnovers from the D Line, to the linebackers, to the secondary. We all need to do a better job of making those plays, helping the offense out, and giving the ball back to the offense.”
To their credit, the Seahawks do have 12 takeaways. The problem, as Wagner pointed out, is that they’ve been sporadic. Seven of those takeaways came against the Cleveland Browns (four) and Cincinnati Bengals (three).
Sacks have been a different story. Seattle’s pass rush has been MIA all season. The Seahawks have just 11 sacks all season and five of them came in Week 1 against the Bengals. They’ve had three games without a sack and two games with just one. The Seahawks hadn’t had a sack since Week 4 until Lamar Jackson slipped in the fourth quarter last Sunday and was “sacked” by Brandon Jackson.
Seattle’s defense ranks 22nd in DVOA, another advanced metric that serves as a comprehensive rating system of offenses and defenses as a whole.
Wagner attributed some of the Seahawks defensive inconsistencies to a lack of chemistry.
“Having a bunch of guys that are new to playing with each other,” Wagner said. “You’ve got to build that trust.”
Seattle needs things to click sooner rather than later. The NFC is loaded, including the San Francisco 49ers who remain unbeaten at 6-0. Next up is a must-win game against the reeling Atlanta Falcons, losers of five straight. The Falcons have given up 19 sacks and turned the ball over 12 times.
Matt Ryan will either be playing on a bum ankle or it will be backup Matt Schaub under center for Atlanta in Week 8. Either way, this Sunday should be the perfect get-right game for the Seahawks defense.