The Seattle Seahawks’ defense has been something less than excellent so far in 2021. It ranks 22nd in points per game, dead last in total yardage, 30th in time of possession and plays per drive—and yet somehow mostly ranks favorably situationally. They have the sixth-ranked redzone defense and are 12th on third downs. Perhaps why things aren’t quite as bad as they could be—but they are 2-3.
And now they are facing an immediate future without their franchise quarterback Russell Wilson, who for the first time in his entire professional career has suffered an injury that will cause him to miss time, the first game without him being this weekend against the Pittsburgh Steelers. But the defense believes it’s up to the challenge.
“I think it’s a tremendous opportunity for us to step up”, linebacker Bobby Wagner, the team’s defensive captain, recently told reporters. “I think it’s needed. Obviously with Russell being down, a lot of it’s going to fall on Geno [Smith] to run that offense and do the things that we’re accustomed to seeing, but we’ve got to play better, and we have to accept this challenge of getting out of this hole and getting out of whatever we dug ourselves into”.
The Seahawks have allowed at least 26 points in three of their five games played so far, which just so happens to be the three games that they have lost. They lost 33-30 in overtime to the Tennessee Titans in Week 2, and then 30-17 to the Minnesota Vikings a week later. Most recently, they lost 26-17 to the Los Angeles Rams in the game in which Wilson was hurt.
“I feel like we have the people, we have the confidence, we have the players to execute, and we have the players to get this right”, the longtime Seahawks defender said of his unit. “This is our time, our turn to step up as a defense, and we will. And it’s going to be a personal challenge for me to make sure that happens”.
It doesn’t seem all that long ago that Seattle had arguably the best defense in the entire NFL, but this unit is really somewhat far removed from that, with Wagner being the most notable carryover from those great units.
Let’s hope, of course, that they don’t suddenly find some renaissance without their quarterback. The Steelers’ defense stepped up in 2019 when they lost Ben Roethlisberger, though that was a season-ending injury. Wilson should be back in a matter of weeks, perhaps. But it won’t be this week, and Pittsburgh has to capitalize on that good fortune.