The Elephant in the Locker Room: Up the Middle


By Greg Wright

Ten weeks and nine games into the 2018 season, Seattle’s biggest weakness is obvious, perhaps even glaring. And everyone’s talking about it.

It’s the run defense. Seattle is near the bottom of the league in giving up an average of 5 yards per rush this season. That’s an abysmal number for a Pete Carroll defense, which typically yields a season average of 4 yards or less per carry.

Seattle is not alone in this anomaly, however. YPC are up across the league this season, thanks to the increased use of jet sweeps and options. I would also argue that shorter offseason OTAs are a factor, as defensive players get less time to work with each other to perfect schemes and communication.

In the case of the Seahawks, a couple of other factors come into play as well.

First, the Hawks (as I noted last week) have had a rotating cast of characters at linebacker this year, with Bobby Wagner being the only consistent piece of the puzzle. Last week was the first time KJ and Bobby have been on the field together this season. And given the rust on that onfield relationship, lack of familiarity with Mingo, and an almost entirely new line in front of them, they are going to have some problems with “fits.” As things stabilize over the next few weeks, I expect the play of the linebacking corps to improve.

I don’t have the same kind of confidence about the line. I like the position group in general, but this year they lack the savvy and disruptiveness that Avril and Bennett brought to the line. Clark is improving his ability to sniff out the jets, but Jarran Reed and co. are regularly getting their butts trapped off. The interior of the line needs a lot of improvement against the run. And I think this group is just too young and green to see that improvement this year. The big vulnerability will continue to be right up the middle. Bobby is going to have his hands full five yards downfield.

The upside is that the even younger secondary has not really been the team’s weakness. If anything, the secondary has been vulnerable at times because of the need to play closer to the line. That’s not on them.

The really bad news for tonight is that Seattle’s weakness plays right into the strength of Green Bay’s offense this year.

Here’s hoping the linebackers have a really, really good night supporting the run D.

There’s always some key issue that’s getting glossed over. It’s the elephant in the locker room, if you will, and gosh darn if I’ll let that ride. 

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