If you listen to the national media, the current Seattle Seahawks team will be bad. “Too much talent has walked out the door for them to compete.” It is tough to argue with the basic logic that talent has walked away and from a national perspective, as you just don’t replace guys like Michael Bennett, Richard Sherman, Kam Chancellor, Cliff Avril and others with the expectation that the next group will be just as impactful.
The core members of this team have been set for the last five years and watching that core morph and disintegrate leaves fans in a world of unknown.
In an effort to look at the current roster with perspective, without focusing on who is gone, I thought I would look at each position group and compare them to the same groups from the team as they entered the 2013 season. I don’t want to look at Sherman “the all-pro,” but the pre-2013 Sherman who was coming off his first full season.
Today I am going to focus on the defense, looking at the year prior stats to compare those players in that moment in time.
2013 (2012 stats)
Bruce Irvin – 8 sacks, 10 tackles, 7 assists
Bobby Wagner – 2 sacks, 85 tackles, 54 assists, 3 interceptions and 7 passes defended
KJ Wright – 1 sack, 68 tackles, 30 assists, 1 interception and 6 passes defended
Barkevious Mingo – 2 sacks, 32 tackles, 12 assists and 1 pass defended
Bobby Wagner – 1.5 sacks, 97 tackles, 37 assists, 1 safety, 2 interceptions and 6 passes defended
KJ Wright – 0 sacks, 71 tackles, 37 assists, 1 interception and 6 passes defended
The LBs going into 2013 were great, but they were really young and the depth was basically Heath Farwell, Malcolm Smith and Mike Morgan, which isn’t great, but decent. Bruce Irvin had been a situational pass rusher as a rookie and would now become more of a SAM and no one knew how that would work out.
This year, Seattle still has Bobby Wagner and KJ Wright. They are better than they were then, just based on experience and they haven’t started aging out yet. Mingo is an unknown, but he is similar to Irvin in size and athletic ability and put up decent numbers in only six games. His production is unknown at this time, but no more unknown than going into 2013. The current depth of D.J. Alexander, Shaquem Griffin and others is also very similar to 2013.
Overall, the Seahawks are better off going into this year than 2013 at the linebacker position.
2013 (2012 stats)
Red Bryant – 0 sacks, 14 tackles, 10 assists and 3 passes defended
Chris Clemons – 11.5 sacks, 31 tackles, 9 assists and 4 passes defended
Cliff Avril (with Lions) – 9.5 sacks, 28 tackles, 7 assists, two forced fumbles
Michael Bennett (with Bucs) – 9 sacks, 34 tackles, 7 assists, 3 forced fumbles
Tony McDaniel (with Dolphins) – 0.5 sacks, 6 tackles, 5 assists and 1 pass defended
Brandon Mebane – 3 sacks, 31 tackles, 25 assists and 3 passes defended
2018 (2017 stats)
Frank Clark – 9 sacks, 19 tackles, 13 assists and 2 passes defended
Dion Jordan – 4 sacks, 10 tackles and 8 assists
Jarran Reed – 1.5 sacks, 23 tackles, 22 assists and 1 pass defended
Tom Johnson (with Vikings) – 2 sacks, 17 tackles and 15 assists
It’s hard to evaluate the 2013 defensive line without including the heavy rotation that included Bennett and Avril behind the starters Bryant and Clemons. That depth and ability to rotate made the group as a whole, great.
This year you have to believe in continued development and health, if this group is going to be as good as 2013. Dion Jordan was very efficient and effective last year, but has never played a full healthy season. Frank Clark has gotten better every year and if that continues, he will be a Pro Bowl-level DE. The DTs are a group of solid performers; Naz Jones and Shamar Stephen give them more depth than in 2013.
Overall, if Jordan and Clark stay healthy and perform/develop like last year, this group should be close to the 2013 DL, just not as much pass rush depth. If Rasheem Green and/or Marcus Smith end up as contributors also, they could easily be equivalent to the 2013 DL.
Earl Thomas – 3 interceptions, 9 passes defended, 42 tackles and 24 assists
Kam Chancellor – 0 interceptions, 4 passes defended, 73 tackles and 22 assists
Byron Maxwell – 0 interceptions, 3 passes defended, 10 tackles and 4 assists
Richard Sherman – 8 interceptions, 24 passes defended, 53 tackles and 11 assists
Walter Thurmond – 3 tackles
Earl Thomas – 2 interceptions, 6 passes defended, 56 tackles and 32 assists
Bradley McDougald – 0 interceptions, 4 passes defended, 45 tackles and 22 assists
Shaquill Griffin – 1 interception, 15 passes defended, 50 tackles and 8 assists
Byron Maxwell (with Dolphins and Seahawks) – 1 interception, 7 passes defended, 39 tackles and 7 assists
Justin Coleman – 2 interceptions, 9 passes defended, 25 tackles and 10 assists
The secondary going into 2013 was a young, but already accomplished group. Thomas, Chancellor and Sherman were playing at all-pro levels. Walter Thurmond hadn’t stayed healthy yet and a combo of Byron Maxwell and Brandon Browner held down the other corner spot. The concept of them being an historically great secondary was in its infancy, but they were definitely already really good.
This year depends completely on Shaquill Griffin’s development. He has the tools and has shown the potential to play at Sherman’s levels. Earl is still Earl Thomas. Bradley McDougald is better than Kam in coverage, but not as good in run support. Justin Coleman has outperformed Thurmond and has stayed on the field. Maxwell has shown that he can still play at or near his peak, which isn’t as high as some once thought, but will be good enough on that side.
Overall, the secondary will be good enough and could be just as good as the early version of the Legion of Boom.
The 2012-2013 team had national backing and was overflowing with optimism. The Seahawks had been a bad team for a long time and it looked like all sorts of rookies and some new additions were developing into a contender if not the favorite in the NFC. That perceived momentum is what drove the optimism and positive prognostications. Looking at each position group, for what they were at that moment in time, this years defense has the potential to be a great group of their own.