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Seahawks defense needs to change downward trend

Long gone are the days of the Seattle Seahawks defense propelling the team to the playoffs and dominating foes.

Russell Wilson is the rightful face of the Seahawks and the defense has become, in many ways, a letdown.

The 2019 season, at least statistically, was the worst for a Seahawks defense in the Pete Carroll era in total yards per game (381.6; 26th in the NFL), passing yards allowed (263.9; 27th), sacks (28, 29th) and opposing red zone touchdown percentage (61.5%; 26th).

Bobby Wagner is still standing tall as one of the best in the business at linebacker, but beyond that, a prevailing question in the Pacific Northwest is whether the Seahawks' aspirations could be again undone by a sub-par defense.

Perhaps most eye-opening is comparing how the Seattle defense ranked in its glory days of 2012-2016 to now.

The Seahawks were No. 1 in the NFL in yards per game allowed, rushing yards per game allowed and opposing yards per carry from 2012-16. In each of those statistics, Seattle is ranked 20th or worse from 2017 through last year.

Pro Bowl cornerback Shaquill Griffin and linebacker K.J. Wright also turned in solid seasons, so Wagner wasn't quite a warrior on his own in 2019, as he racked up an NFL-leading 159 tackles. A sixth-straight Pro Bowl trip was had by Wagner, who made his fifth All-Pro squad, tallied an astounding fourth consecutive season of 130 or more tackles and has had better than 100 tackles in each of his eight seasons. The versatile Hall of Fame-level talent no doubt needs some more help, though.

Seattle hopes reinforcements will arrive in the form of first-round selection Jordyn Brooks at linebacker, second-round pick Darrell Taylor at defensive end and two more edge rushers in free agents Bruce Irvin from the Panthers and Benson Mayowa of the Raiders.

Brooks, who was taken 27th overall, is no doubt hoping to fare better than recent Seahawks first-round picks. The Hawks' 2019 first-rounder, L.J. Collier, played in 11 games last year with no starts and a meager three tackles. Rashaad Penny, taken 27th in 2018, has had production and injury issues and 2016 first-round selection Germain Ifedi is likely going to be a back-up on the Bears.

Nostalgia is mostly what remains of the Seahawks' times as a dominant defense.

If a sustained playoff run is to be had in 2020, Wilson, Wagner and the like will need some help and a reversal of the downward trend the Seahawks defense has been on as of late.

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