Exploitable Seahawks defense should have Cardinals licking their chops
TEMPE — The Seattle Seahawks staying afloat offensively behind quarterback Geno Smith has been one of the biggest surprises this season.
The same can’t be said about the defense, though, which is littered with young faces and made the move to a 3-4 scheme this year.
Entering their Week 6 tilt against the Arizona Cardinals, the Seahawks are one of the worst teams in the NFL on that side of the ball.
Seattle’s defense is dead last in the league with 430 yards allowed per game. It’s giving up 30.8 points per contest. Only the Detroit Lions (34) are seeing more points scored than the Seahawks through five weeks.
For a Cardinals offense still looking to find its stride over a full four quarters of action, it won’t find a better matchup than this one to get things rolling.
“A lot of young players,” quarterback Kyler Murray said Wednesday. “I think in the past couple of years, they’ve had familiar players that we’ve all known. They’re a young team now I think, with a lot of new names on their defense, so I’m looking forward to the opportunity.
“It’s a divisional matchup, an opportunity for us to go 1-1 in the division against a good team. They’re going to play hard, so I’m looking forward to it.”
A lot like the Cardinals offense, the Seahawks defense has struggled to find its footing early on in games, getting outscored 41-28 in the first quarter alone and losing the halftime points battle 82-80 over the first five games of the season.
The biggest area of weakness for Seattle is stopping the run.
Allowing 170.2 yards per outing to go along with nine total rushing scores on the ground, the Seahawks have had no answer for opposing run games this season.
And while the Cardinals’ rushing attack won’t be anywhere near full strength, with James Conner and Darrel Williams already been ruled out by head coach Kliff Kingsbury, the door is very much open for Eno Benjamin, Keaontay Ingram and even Corey Clement, who is expected to be elevated from the practice squad for the Week 6 game.
Benjamin has seen no more than nine carries in a single game but has gained the trust of those around him with his work ethic and drive. In place of Conner last week, Benjamin managed to chip in 25 yards and a touchdown on eight carries. He also caught three balls for 28 yards.
Ingram has yet to be activated five games into his rookie season, although, he has caught his head coach’s eye when it comes down to the RB’s ball skills and overall physicality.
“The moment doesn’t seem to big for him since Day 1, just when he touches the ball, has good vision, plays downhill, plays like he belongs, carries himself like he belongs and that’s why we ended up keeping him,” Kingsbury said of Ingram on Friday.
“It’ll be moving fast for sure — first NFL game experience — but he’ll step up.”
While the Seahawks have been gashed on the ground, having allowed 19 plays of at least 10 yards over the first five weeks of 2022, it’s not much better through the air.
Seattle sits near the bottom of the barrel against the pass, allowing 359.8 yards per game to go along with nine total touchdowns to opposing signal callers. The Las Vegas Raiders (106.7) are the only team worse than the Seahawks when it comes down to opposing quarterback rating at 106.6.
And most of those yards came in bunches, with Seattle giving up 39 plays of at least 13 yards with seven resulting in touchdowns.
That could bode well for the connection of Murray and Hollywood Brown, who continue to impress in their reunion tour.
So far in 2022, Brown has accounted for six plays of at least 20 yards. The next closest Cardinals pass catcher is Greg Dortch with three. It’s been a heck of a start to Brown’s career in the desert, with the WR also leading the team in receptions (38), receiving yards (417) and receiving touchdowns (three).
But much like we’ve seen this season, execution will be key for Arizona’s offense to thrive, regardless of who is on the other side.
“It’s an ascending defense,” Kingsbury said. “They decided to put young guys out there and let them grow on task. They’ve gotten better each week and they’ve played some really good offenses and have given up some big plays here and there.
“But it’s a group that you can tell has gotten better each week. They play with a lot of effort and really attack the football.”