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Seahawks defense 'showing its youth'

Seahawks defense.jpg
Rick Osentoski
AP Photo

The Seahawks host the Vikings on Sunday. At midseason, the Hawks are 4-4 and looking to turn things around.

KPLU sports commentator Art Thiel says it starts with their defense.

The mistakes of youth

The Seahawks defense is young. Of the 15 players who normally play defense, seven are in their third year or less. 

Art says their youth and inexperience is starting to show. After a stellar performance from rookie quarterback Russell Wilson last Sunday against the Lions, the defense blew it in the last few minutes of the game. The Lions ultimately won 28-24, in what Art calls a "jaw-dropping loss."

Rookies leading offense and defense

The Hawks' defense is led by rookie middle linebacker Bobby Wagner. That means there are first-year players in charge of both the Seahawks' offense and defense.

"I don't think fans fully appreciate the difficulty of putting a rookie in both spots. And it's coming home now because as the season progresses every team gets more and more video information on the tendencies of their opponents."

Art says Wagner and second-year linebacker K. J. Wright are still trying to adjust to the pace of the NFL.

"They admit the game is moving much faster than it was in college and they are prone to taking the fakes. They are seeing false reads and biting, and getting fooled by offenses who are increasingly aware of the Seahawks defensive tendencies and are making better play calls against the rookies."

Green Bay win overhyped

Art says a big problem for fans is that they're focusing too much on the Seahawks' Monday Night Football win against the Packers.

"That was such a dramatic game in which they got eight sacks against Aaron Rodgers in the first half; and everybody thought this was going to be the greatest defense ever. And it wasn't. Green Bay adjusted. The Seahawks got no more sacks in the second half. And in the five games since, they've only had 11 sacks. It's just a demonstration of how other offenses have figured out the Seahawks' defense."

Can turn it around

Art says there is hope for the Hawks for the rest of the season; but they have to make some adjustments.

"The second half is going to be about the Seahawks getting more experience, getting smarter and changing up what they were doing in the first half so they don't become so predictable."

You can find Art Thiel's work at Sportspress Northwest.

Kirsten Kendrick has been hosting Morning Edition on KNKX/KPLU since 2006. She has worked in news radio for more than 30 years. Kirsten is also a sports lover. She handles most sports coverage at the station, including helping produce a two-part series on the 50th anniversary of Title IX and the ongoing series "Going Deep."
Art Thiel is a co-founder and writer for the rising sports website Sportspress Northwest. In 2003 Thiel wrote the definitive book about the Seattle Mariners, “Out of Left Field,” which became a regional bestseller. In 2009, along with Steve Rudman and KJR 950 afternoon host Mike Gastineau, Thiel authored “The Great Book of Seattle Sports Lists,” a cross between and Mad Magazine that has become mandatory reading for any sports fan who has an indoor bathroom.
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