Seahawks believe successful shift on defense is permanent

Shelby Harris was in a foot race, which isn’t typically what the Seattle Seahawks expect from one of their burly defensemen.

RENTON, Wash. (AP) — Shelby Harris was in a footrace, which isn’t usually what the Seattle Seahawks expect from one of their burly defensemen.

In this case, that moment of Harris chasing New York Giants QB’s Daniel Jones and preventing him from making the first down was a perfect example of the effort that led to a drastic turnaround for the Seahawks defense.

“It just sells for the man next to you, the willingness to do whatever is asked of you,” Harris said. “I think that’s the epitome of the whole team, everyone is willing to sell for the person next to them, buy in and do whatever it takes to come home with a win.”

A lot of good stories are unfolding in Seattle with a team that is among the biggest surprises nearing the middle of the regular season.

And at the top of that list is a defense that couldn’t stop anyone early in the season from becoming one of the better units in the league over the past three weeks.

“We all thought we had to get this rolling,” said Seattle coach Pete Carroll. “We all put our heads together, stayed together, stayed connected, and now we’re at the end of it and trying to really build something big.”

Less than a month ago, the Seahawks were among the worst defenses in the NFL as they struggled with an offseason switch to a 3-4 alignment. They had conceded 84 points in two games against Detroit and New Orleans and just watched the Saints rush 235 yards in a draining loss.

Seattle was at the bottom end of most major statistical categories on defense.

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Frustrating? Maybe annoying was a better word.

“I was obviously frustrated and pissed off, to say the least, but on the downside I’ve been through a lot tougher things in my personal life,” said Seattle defense coordinator Clint Hurtt.

“After going through some difficult issues in football, we just have to keep coaching each other, keep fighting and keep showing the players’ support: ‘Hey, I’m with you, we’re all in this together and together we’re going to get this thing done .'”

It seems the Seahawks have pulled it off, at least for the past three weeks. Seattle has conceded just 45 total points over their last three games combined and managed to knock out the Cardinals, Chargers and Giants in different ways.

Last week against the Giants was perhaps the most impressive of the three performances, as New York came out with the second best rushing offense in the league and was held to 78 rushing yards. The Giants’ only touchdown followed a turnover by Seattle inside the 5-yard line.

“New Orleans had a lot to do with it because for us up front, we feel like this was a game that eluded us. It was a game we all should have played better,” Harris said. “It was a question of enough is enough.”

Well, the Seahawks did, especially on the defensive line. Seattle adjusted after the New Orleans debacle, allowing its defenders to be more aggressive, especially against the run. Instead of trying to read the game and keep offensive linemen busy, the job has now become as disruptive as possible.

Seattle has also been playing more nickels lately, with an additional defender — rookie Coby Bryant — on the field. That also seems to have helped. The arrival of veteran Bruce Irvin and Seattle’s continued strong play at the secondary level also helped.

By some advanced metrics, the Seahawks are close to the top of the league during this three-game stretch. Football Outsiders’ DVOA rating has put Seattle’s defense first for the past three weeks after ranking 30th in the league for the first five weeks of the season.

The Seahawks get another chance Sunday to test the validity of the changes they made to the Cardinals.

“I’ve told the guys before that we had the same situation in 2020, 2021 and we started a little sloppy but we ended up putting things together,” said safety Ryan Neal. “We went back to work and understood the importance of what we have to do.”

NOTES: QB Geno Smith was NFC Offensive Player of the Month while rookie RB Kenneth Walker III and CB Tariq Woolen were NFL Offensive and Defensive Rookies of the Month throughout October. This is the first time players from the same team have been honored in the same month since the league began honoring Rookie of the Month in 1996. Seahawks believe successful shift on defense is permanent

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