It’s not quite the Legion of Boom, but Seattle’s defense is improving
EAGAN, Minn. -- From 2012-15, the Seattle Seahawks boasted the NFL best defense. Led by the “Legion of Boom” secondary, the team led the league in points allowed each year and was top five in yards allowed, the main cog in two Super Bowl trips.
Since then, players such as Richard Sherman, Kam Chancellor, Earl Thomas and Frank Clark have left and the results have predictably changed. Last season, the Seahawks defense ranked outside the top-10 in yards (370.3) and points allowed (21.8), and through 12 games this season, they’re ranked in the bottom 10 in both categories.
Yet, optimism is swirling around a defense that might be finding its own identity. In the past two weeks, Seattle gave up an average of just over 225 passing yards, and less than 100 rushing yards, in victories over San Francisco and Philadelphia.
“We’re playing the best we’ve played all year,” Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll said. “Our guys have been more active, more involved, and I think it’s particularly because of what’s gone up in front. I think the pressure has been better and the pass rush has been better.”
The pressure needs to be better. Seattle ranks 28th with an average of 2.1 sacks per game, although that’s up to 3.3 in the past three games.
More impressive is the turnovers they’ve generated. After three against the 49ers, they had five takeaways against the Eagles last week. They are tied for NFL league in fumble recoveries (14) and are third in total takeaways (24).
The Vikings rank second to last in fumbles, coughing up an average of 2.2 a game.
“You’ve got some people who just teach certain techniques about how to tackle the football,” Vikings running back Dalvin Cook said. “You’ve just got to watch out for those guys. (Seattle) is just one of those teams. So, you’ve got to lock that thing up and it’s going to be one of those weeks that you’ve got to take care of the football.”
While many of the name-brand players of Super Bowls past have left, the Seahawks added an influx of talent through trades this offseason, including cornerback Quandre Diggs, acquired in a trade from Detroit. He made his debut in Week 10, and since then the Seahawks have allowed two offensive touchdowns, and Diggs already has an interception.
“He certainly has been there when we’ve played better,” Carroll said. “He’s an impact player and he’s binging confidence to the guys around him. Good players make other players good, and he’s been part of that.”
Seattle also acquired former No. 1 overall pick Jadeveon Clowney from the Houston Texans. Clowney is tied for the team lead with three sacks and has added 16 tackles but missed last week’s game against the Eagles with knee and hip injuries. His status for Monday is unknown.
“Another dynamic player,” Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer said. “They’re using him a couple different ways. He’s a get-up-the-field, cause-havoc kind of guy.”
Pairing Clowney and Diggs with veterans such as K.J. Wright, Ziggy Ansah and Bobby Wagner seems to have reinvigorated the Seahawks’ defense. The Vikings hope they can put a stop to it, at least for one week.
“I’ve respected their scheme, the way they play, the intensity in which they play. They’re smart players,” Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins said. “We’re looking forward to another big, challenging game this week.”