BY Art Thiel 06:00AM 12/03/2020

Thiel: Adams gets his first Seahawks December

It’s December, time when the Seahawks get good. And look what’s happened — the defense shows up. As do some bad teams. How convenient.

SS Jamal Adams has brought some sackitude to the Seahawks defense. / Corey Sipkin via

It’s December. When, historically under Pete Carroll, the Seahawks get good. For the next three weeks, the opponents are so weak that Seattle’s progress toward Super Bowl contention will hard to measure. But that likely is acceptable.

Unless, of course, they lose to one among the 4-7 Giants, the 0-11 Jets and the 4-7 Whose Former Nickname No Longer Shall Be Mentioned. Then Christmas lights in Seattle will go dark. Kvetching, harrumphing and angry gesticulation will commence.

Overreaction must be anticipated, in light of the fact that much of the fan base greeted the 23-17 win Sunday over the 3-7-1 Eagles mostly with a ho and a hum.

If WR DK Metcalf had held onto a ball already in his hands in the end zone, and if Seahawks defensive backs had knocked down the final pass as they stood next to it, the score would have been 30-9 and the 12s would have fallen off their collective Christmas-tree-decorating ladder in jubilation.

However, we live in a world that uses, without sarcasm, irony or even a wink, the phrase “instant analysis.” So we must accept the reality that we demand our gratifications be immediate, if not sooner.

Which is why it’s going to take a while for some to catch up to the fact that the Seahawks, as they get healthier, have a better than average defense.

The lousy start to the season? When the numbers indicated the Seahawks were the forever-worst defense, going back to the time when all life on Earth was still in the sea? So October.

In the past 10 quarters, the Seahawks have given up four touchdown drives of 50 or more yards — one to the Rams, three to Cardinals, and none to the Eagles (I’m throwing out Sunday’s Hail Mary; sue me).

Sunday, they are home against a New York Giants team that likely will operate without its 23-year-old starting quarterback, Daniel Jones, who strained a hamstring Sunday in a 19-17 win over Cincinnati. His replacement, the venerable Colt McCoy, completed six of 10 passes and did not spit up the lead given him.

Somehow, McCoy, 34, has amassed a 10-year NFL career despite playing in a mere 41 games, starting 28, three of which came in the past five years. Should he start, he’s close to being the perfect guy to help the Seahawks defense with their seasonal numbers — a backup in the saddle again after the callouses have worn off.

Carroll will leave disparagement of McCoy to the media. Instead, h honks the horn hard for a defense finally off its lips.

“We have turned that thing around in a hurry,” he said Wednesday. “You guys wouldn’t have thought — I wouldn’t have thought — that it might be possible to be a top-10 rushing group. We’re up in the top-10 numbers in terms of sacks and QB hits.

“We definitely can feel the momentum of the shift happening. This is what we have been waiting for. We all had to be patient, but now it’s time to keep proving it. Because we did something last week doesn’t mean anything unless we do it again.”

The Seahawks are third in rushing defense at 89 yards a game, and 15 sacks in the past four games have them eighth with 31, seven behind league-leading Pittsburgh. After getting to Carson Wentz six times Sunday, and with McCoy and the Jets’ Sam Darnold en route, Seattle may catch the Steelers by Christmas.

Much of the improvement is due to the return to health of SS Jamal Adams, who had his best overall game Sunday, explaining in eloquent deeds why he was worth giving the Jets two first-round draft picks.

Because of injuries, Adams has played in seven games, but has a team-high 6.5 sacks, tying his best with the Jets. The NFL record for a safety is 8.5, by Adrian Wilson in 2005. Adams’ 18.5 career sacks are most by a DB in his first four seasons since 1982, when the tracking of sacks began.

It has taken Carroll a bit to adapt to a pass-rushing safety, times when pass coverage has suffered. But the reward is now blowing past the risk.

“Those guys that play with that kind of a mentality will make some errors at times because they have to be willing to walk the line,” Carroll said. “He’s a blast to coach. We were asking him to do quite a few things that allow him to express his ability. We always try to figure out how to do that. He has so many talents. We place him in coverage, he’s in zones,  man to man, in stuff over the top, he’s pressuring, he’s helping in the running game.

“The best part about it is his instincts that allow him to show how tough he is. He’s just nails.”

After the game, Adams more or less said, told ya so.

“We coming together, man,” he said. “Everybody’s getting healthy.  We’re starting to understand the defense as a whole, playing as one. Like I said from the beginning, we knew we knew what type of talent we had. It was only a matter of time. People outside, they was going to chirp. There’s always something negative about the Seattle Seahawks; I’ve kind of witnessed that since I’ve been here.

“We are 8-3. Damn that feels good. Let’s talk about that.”

Being from the Jets, he’s not used to a higher bar here, as when 23-17 should be 30-9. Consider it tough love.



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  • Stephen Pitell

    I’ve never wavered in my belief we made the right move with Adams. Please don’t get down on those who cannot help themselves but be negative.

    Believe this Mr. Adams, Seattle loves you, but we won’t ignore the bad. Just keep being who you are and all will be well.

  • skabotnik

    Giving up two first-rounders got the attention of the league and seemed like a lot to give but the Seahawks don’t exactly have a glittering history in the first round. The way Schneider seems to have become the Draft Whisperer in the latter rounds, it might have been a worse deal for the Hawks to have given up a third, a fourth and a fifth round pick to get Adams.

    • Husky73

      Is a young and healthy Adams worth two number ones? Yup, all day long. The Seahawks’ first pick next spring is Adams. The Seahawks’ first pick in the spring of 22 is Adams. Works for me.

      • art thiel

        As long as they stay playoff-competitive, the chance for the Seahawks to land a premier player in the low first round is small. Doesn’t mean there aren’t great players still available (Metcalf, Wilson, etc.), but if Carroll believes in win-now every year, he has to pay for the opportunity.

    • art thiel

      As with more GMs these days, Schneider views the use of the asset of a first-rounder to acquire a top-tier veteran more worthwhile than taking the pick. No greater evidence for that is the Seahawks’ history.

  • nolan

    Be carful here. We all know that the hawks have a tendency to ‘play down’ to an opponents level. I hope I’m wrong, but there is no gimme here.

    • Husky73

      I think every fan of every team–especially the Huskies– has thrown down the “play down” card.

    • art thiel

      Nothing unique to the Seahawks. But a fixture in human nature.

    • 2nd place is 1st loser

      You should buy lotto tickets given your insight.

  • Husky73

    Art, I don’t understand your third sentence. Question– is the team whose former nickname shall no longer be mentioned related to the play that forever will no longer be mentioned?

    • Chris Alexander

      He was referring to the generically named Washington Football Team whose former name was an ethnic slur that should (a) have been tossed in the trash bin decades ago, and (b) never have been considered in the first place.

      • Husky73

        Yeah, I know……

      • art thiel

        I’d hoped that was obvious.

  • coug73

    Playoffs?! Don’t talk about playoffs! Are you kidding me? Playoffs?! I’m just hoping we can win a game, another game!
    Jim Mora

    • art thiel

      The immortal contribution of the Mora family to the spoken literature of sports.

  • Chris Alexander

    Some random thoughts regarding the Seattle defense . . .

    1. Four games ago, Seattle had a total of 12 sacks and was on pace to finish slightly below last season’s putrid total. Over the past 4 games, they’ve accumulated 19 sacks and are now on pace to finish the season with 45. Or, if you want to assume that they’ll continue the pace of their last 4 games, 54 or 55 by season’s end.

    2A. Starting with the second half of the Rams game – which is when things seemed to “click into place” for the defense, the Seahawks have allowed opposing quarterbacks to complete 65 of 103 passes (63.1%) for 571 yards.

    Subtracting yards lost on sacks, opposing teams have netted 510 passing yards in that 10-quarter span.

    2B. Through halftime of the Rams game, Seattle was allowing 365.5 net passing yards per game (i.e. passing yards minus sack yardage). Since then, they’re averaging 204.0 net passing yards per game.

    2C. Through halftime of the Rams game, Seattle’s defense was on pace to allow 5,848 yards passing this season . . . which would have SHATTERED the record of 4,796 yards, currently held by the 2011 Green Bay Packers, by more than 1,000 yards !!!

    2D. Assuming that Seattle can maintain their recent 204.0 yards per game pace over the final five games, they would finish the season with 4,792 passing yards allowed and ease in just below the 2011 Packers . . . by 4 yards.

    Which is GREAT news.

    But to put that into perspective, Seattle would need to average 204 passing yards allowed per game – which would currently rank 4th in the league, 1/2 a yard behind the Rams (203.5 per game) and 10.8 behind the league-leading Steelers (193.2), over nearly HALF of the season (7-1/2 games) just to barely fall short of the record.

    3. Somewhat “forgotten” in this is the fact that Seattle’s “historically bad” defense was actually on pace to shatter TWO ignominious records – the passing yards allowed one and the one for most total yards allowed.

    The 2012 New Orleans Saints currently hold the total yards record, having surrendered 7,042 yards that season. Through halftime of the Rams game, Seattle was allowing 461.3 yards per game and was on pace to finish the season with 7,381 total yards allowed. Ouch!

    Since halftime of the Rams game, Seattle has surrendered an average of 271.2 yards per game; a significant decrease of 190.1 yards per game. If they’re able to maintain that pace over the final 5 games, they would finish the season over 1,000 yards below the 2012 Saints (!!!) with 5,955 total yards allowed.

    Amusingly, the vast improvement over the last 2-1/2 games has actually made it so that the Seattle defense would have to be WORSE than they were prior to the recent stretch to overtake the 2012 Saints at this point (i.e. unless they give up an average of 489 yards per game, or more, over the final 5 games, they won’t catch the 2012 Saints).

    4. Takeaways have dried up. Yes, they tend to come in spurts, but . . . through the first 7 games, Seattle’s defense had 14 takeaways (an average of 2 per game). Over the past 4 games, they’ve raised their season total to . . . 16, both of them on “gift” interceptions; 1 by Goff, 1 by Wentz.

    Should we be concerned? No. Probably not. At least not yet. But, after being in the Top 3 for the first part of the season, Seattle has slipped into a 5-way tie for 13th. And their turnover differential has fallen from +7 after 7 games to +2 after 11 games. So it’s something to at least keep an eye on.

    5.Seattle’s defense has given up 288 first downs this season which ranks LAST in the league. Of those 288 first downs, 81 of them came on a 1st down play. This isn’t a stat that the league tracks (that I know of) so I can’t say where that ranks the Seahawks but I would assume it’s at least in the bottom 10, probably the bottom 5.

    Also, they have allowed opponents to convert 73 of 148 third downs (49.3%) which ranks 29th. THIS, more than anything else, is where the Seattle defense needs to improve if they want to have a “realistic” shot of avoiding the “bad” kind of history that I detailed above – i.e. it’s hard to give up passing yards when your defense is on the sidelines :)


    Here’s to hoping that things continue trending in the right direction; that Adams reaches double digits in sacks; that Carlos Dunlap isn’t hampered by his foot injury; that Quinton Dunbar returns next week healthy and ready for the stretch run; that the team remains healthy through the playoffs; that there aren’t any letdowns over the next 5 games (and beyond); and that the Hawks someone manage to avoid becoming a “record holder” defensively.


  • Ed Walsh

    Another nice write, Art. Reality, accuracy, and, although access crippled by Covid rule, you and other Seattle Media have really shined on showing the team personalties. I think better than most cities’ sports writers in tough times, but many of them have done well, too. Thanks.

    • art thiel

      Thanks, Ed. I appreciate the thought about the covid restrictions. Compared to its tragic consequences, covid’s impact on news-gathering is a trifle. But the fact that we no longer have locker room or post-practice access to players and coaches really limits the quality of originality it our work. So Zoom it is. We make do.

  • DJ

    Thanks Art! Gotta love Adams’ attitude and energy. He is a refreshing addition along with the “giggling with glee” Carlos Dunbar. The Seattle Seahawks – the team for great players stuck and under appreciated on bad franchises.

    • art thiel

      Schneider is always on scan for those guys. Lynch was his best score, followed by Duane Brown.

  • DB

    You’d never get a real answer from Pete, but I’d sure like to ask him to compare Kam and Jamal. IE; ‘You only have one pick and it’s between Chancellor or Adams. Both in their prime. Who do you take?’

    • art thiel

      Carroll will definitely back away from that answer until they sign Adams to a long-term extension. But business considerations aside, I give the edge to Kam for now because his presence forced offenses to change plans.

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