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SEATTLE – Just a few days into his new job, Clint Hurtt received an unsolicited suggestion on how to manage the Seattle Seahawks’ defense. The D-line bus, who had become the coordinator, had ordered room service while staying with his wife at a hotel in the Seattle area when they opened the dessert tray to find a map containing a half-joking postscript.
“My wife read it,” Hurtt told Sports Radio 950 KJR-AM last week, “and they said, ‘Congratulations, coach, on the new promotion. And by the way, it would be great if we did not drop Carlos Dunlap. in coverage longer. ‘ So I told my wife, I said, ‘Well, I know that’s how they are doing right now. So we’ll remove it.’ “
In fact, it was already part of Hurtt’s vision of a more aggressive offensive defense than what his fired predecessor, Ken Norton Jr., oversaw in recent seasons. As Hurtt explained at his inaugural press conference and in a couple of radio interviews, this will mean that pass-rushers like Dunlap mostly stick to pass-rushing. That would mean more blitz – though not a ton more – and less of the soft zone coverage that led to too many easy finishes for opposing quarterbacks.
And from the sound of it, it will also mean getting security Jamal Adams back to his 2020 form. Or at least used him more like the Seahawks did during his excellent debut season in Seattle than they did in his disappointing 2021 follow-up.
Hurtt said Adam “absolutely” can still be the type of impact pass-rusher he was two years ago when he set the NFL record for a 9.5-sack defensive back in 12 games en route to another Pro Bowl -nik.
“Super-aggressive, hyper-aggressive guy who will be physical throughout the game,” Hurtt said, listing Adams’ best skills on the field. “Really instinctive, good at his running pace, and as we all already know, he’s an excellent blitzer. Whether you’re talking about a linebacker or a DB, it’s a unique set of skills that’s hard to find. He strikes close ends, “he’s hitting offensive linemen one-on-one. The ability to bend and turn the corner and his relentless pursuit of the quarterback, I would think you would be foolish if you did not take advantage of that.”
In 2020, Adams looked worthy of the first two round picks the Seahawks boasted to acquire him, and the record $ 70 million extension they gave him last summer. But they hardly looked like resources given out well last season as he was kept without a sack before his season ended after 12 games due to a torn labrum, the same shoulder injury he sustained the year before.
And the trade looked even worse because the 2022 first-round pick they gave the New York Jets ended up being much higher – No. 10 overall – than expected thanks to Seattle’s 7-10 finish.
Adams blinked less than half as often (four times per game) as he did in 2020 (8.25 times per game). That was despite an average of 5.75 more snaps per. game, as Seattle easily spent the most time on the field of any defense in the NFL.
This change in Adams’ use, as Seahawks coach Pete Carroll put it, was the result of the extra attention opponents began to give him after his record-breaking loss.
“Thirty-three go up and they say, ‘He’s right over there,'” Carroll said in December after Adams was placed on IR. “So they have him to account at all times. We rushed with him from all different angles. He was all over the place. We found out it was not the right thing to do. Just wasted him running into a offensive lineman. That was not the right thing to do. “
Blitzing Adams less often could also have indicated a reluctance to leave their suspicious group of cornerbacks more vulnerable than they already were. As a team, the Seahawks ranked No. 25 in blitz rate (21.1%) after being in 11th place (31.7%) the year before when they had Shaquill Griffin on his way after a Pro Bowl season.
Adams had a couple of interceptions in November – his first with Seattle – before his torn labrum ended his season and required another operation. But there were several forgettable moments earlier in the year that showed his limitations in coverage and stressed that he is best suited for a striker role.
“As the season progressed … we put him in situations that really were not his background,” Hurtt said. “So you have to give him some leeway to understand that he was in a new world last year with some of the things he did, playing a quarter safety or half-field safety and the adjustments he had to make. along the way and he really improved in that aspect over the course of the season.
“Of course there are several things he needs to be able to do so the quarterback can not always retain him for just being a certain type of way. Jamal is a smart enough guy that he understands that it’s not just going to is about his ability to blitz. and run fit and do that kind of thing.That’s the different techniques and coverages he has to play but to make sure it’s something he’s really unique besides just rushing with the quarterback and flash. “
Hurtt’s promotion was part of a major upheaval in Carroll’s coaching staff following the worst season of his 12-year stint at Seattle. The other defensive changes included the hiring of Sean Desai as associate head coach and Karl Scott as coordinator of defensive passing play and DB coach. They agreed to hire Ed Donatell for a senior assistant position before the Minnesota Vikings offered him their DC job.
It is no coincidence that Hurtt, Desai and Donatell have spent time working under Vic Fangio. Carroll plans to incorporate aspects of Fangio’s popular plan as Seattle’s defenses evolve from its days after the Legion of Boom.
According to former NFL security and current ESPN analyst Matt Bowen, a hallmark of Fangio’s defense is that DBs switch before snatching to hide their appearance. It could be a way for the Seahawks to put Adams in more advantageous blitz situations than he faced a year ago.
Either way, Hurtt and Carroll need to lure more playmaking out of Adams, especially with the uncertainty that two of their other defensive cornerstones will return. Linebacker Bobby Wagner has a $ 20.35 million cap that can be unaffordable, while security Quandre Diggs is scheduled to be an unlimited free agent.
“Jamal is still a difference that creates,” Hurtt said. “How we use him, it’s going to be up to me. It’s our responsibility, my responsibility to make sure we put him in positions so he can be at his very best and we know how great he is at to do it.”