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January 3, 2013 at 8:38 AM

Case for Seattle’s run defense

The time for adjustments is over.

No more time to talk about run fits, gap discipline or any of those other terms coaches use to make difficulties for a run defense sound so small and fixable.

For more than two months now, Seattle’s ability to defend the run has been a question mark, which is shocking considering this was supposed to be the unquestioned strength for the Seahawks.

And it was. For six games.


Seahawks
run defense
Rush yards
per game
Rush yards
per carry
GAMES 1-6 70 3.3
GAMES 7-16 122.9 5.1

Then Frank Gore gouged Seattle in the second half of that Thursday night game, surpassed 100 yards rushing, and the Seahawks haven’t been quite the same since.

There are plenty of theories starting with the sore foot belonging to Red Bryant, the team’s run stuffer. Plantar fasciitis has bothered him for more than a month now. The fact that three of the team’s top four linebackers are in their first or second year in the league probably plays a factor, too.

But at this point – three days fromSeattle’s opening-round playoff game – the reason for the Seahawks’ struggles isn’t nearly as important as the unflinching reality that if the run defense doesn’t improve, this is going to be a short playoff run.

Washingtonruns the ball first, second and sometimes third. Alfred Morris ranked No. 2 in the league in rushing yards, quarterback Robert Griffin III was first among all quarterbacks and the team rushed for twice as many touchdowns (22) as it allowed (11).

For the first month of the season, the primary worry in Seattlewas the Seahawks were wasting a championship-caliber defense by starting a rookie quarterback. The Seahawks didn’t allow more than 20 points in any of its first five games and went two full games without allowing the opponent to score an offensive touchdown.

And while Seattle finished the season ranked in the top 10 in rush defense, that doesn’t give a full picture of what transpired. The Seahawks gave up 4.5 yards per carry, tied for sixth-most in the league.

Now, it’s possible those stats are distorted. Seattle scored first in 13 of its 16 games this season and went three full games without ever trailing in the month of December. That put opponents in position where they had to throw, potentially softening upSeattle’s run defense.

ButBuffalo’s C.J. Spiller ran aroundSeattle’s defense. So did Miami’s Reggie Bush.

Is the problem fixable? We’ll find out on Sunday whenSeattlefaces the league’s top rushing offense in what will be a make-or-break moment for this Seahawks’ defense.

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