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This defense will never rest
What has been the best thing about the at-times suffocating play of the Seahawks’ starting defense in the team’s first two preseason games?
The five turnovers it has forced in 10 series against the Tennessee Titans and Denver Broncos? The seven points it has scored, on an interception return? The nine points it has set up, on two interceptions and a fumble recovery? The two three-and-outs it has forced, after the opposition “gained” zero and minus-10 yards? The average of 22.5 yards it has allowed in those 10 series?
None of the above, because the best thing about the performance of the No. 1 defense as it prepares for Friday night’s third preseason game against the Chiefs in Kansas City is that these guys are not satisfied. As good as they have been, they want to play even better – and know they can.
“There isn’t a lot of look-what-we-did with this defense, because we know we can do more,” said Pro Bowl strong safety Kam Chancellor, who has seven tackles to share the preseason lead with cornerback Richard Sherman and No. 3 safety Jeron Johnson.
“No matter how well we might play, we know we can play even better. There’s always something we could have done better.”
Such talk brings a smile to the face of Gus Bradley, the team’s fourth-year defensive coordinator.
“We maybe haven’t had that in years past,” he said. “That tells me they’ve got a great understanding of our defense, because we talk about having opportunities and missing opportunities. They’ve got to be able to own up: ‘Hey, that was talked to me about. I knew the indicators where there. I just missed the opportunity.’
“They’re now talking like that. Rather than, ‘What? What were we in? What just happened?’ There’s not confusion like that. So that’s good, because they hold each other accountable.”
Still, even Bradley has to be on guard when discussing his unit.
“I’ve got to be careful, because of the standard,” Bradley said when asked the how-pleased-are-you question. “We’re trying to build the standard – keep going, keep going, keep going.
“But sometimes I’ve got to stop and say, ‘Boy, you know what, we’re doing some good things.’ ”
Starting with a secondary that was a primary reason the Seahawks ranked among the Top 10 in the league last season in average points and yards allowed.
On the first play of the preseason, Pro Bowl free safety Earl Thomas tipped a pass that Pro Bowl cornerback Brandon Browner intercepted and return for a touchdown. Sherman, a second-year corner, added a second interception in the 27-17 victory over the Titans.
Last week, in the 30-10 victory in Denver, the Seahawks intercepted Peyton Manning twice – the first by second-year linebacker K.J. Wright after 330-pound end Red Bryant deflected the throw; the second by Johnson, who also forced a fumble that was recovered by linebacker Leroy Hill after stepping in for Chancellor.
Yes, the Seahawks did give up an 11-play, 80-yard touchdown drive to the Broncos, as Manning completed each of four passes for 57 yards in looking like the vintage Manning rather than the one who hadn’t played since 2010.
But consider this: Remove that one drive from the mix and the Seahawks’ No. 1 defense has allowed an average of 16.1 yards on its other nine series; and 3.6 yards on its other 40 snaps.
Definitely something for Bradley’s bunch to build on.
“Overall, their attitude is fabulous,” Bradley said. “Their mindset is, with each opportunity they come out on the field, let’s just get a little bit better.
“It’s crazy, because you say, ‘Well, it’s the end of training camp. Here we go, we’re in that third preseason game mode. How are the guys going to come out?’ ”
The defense is letting its actions answer that one.
“Shoot,” Bradley said, “it’s never a concern with these guys.”