We could be forgiven if they woke up on Monday morning surprised by the realization that it’s officially week 1. I know I did. While the Seahawks’ top front office decision-makers are presumably aware of the impending NFL season, questions need to be asked about Seattle’s readiness as they set a trip to Atlanta to face the Falcons, still with a major hole on their list.
The Jadeveon Clowney saga ended this weekend, that’s right. However, Al Woods’ free agency ended long before that, in the second week of April. Although Woods’ departure from the Seahawks was confirmed five months ago, Seattle has yet to replace its solid defensive tackle from 2019. It’s not a thermal exhaust port in the Death Star level flaw, but it is nevertheless a fault on the list.
In 2019, Woods played a pivotal role in rotating the defensive line and perfectly adept at defending the division’s offensive forces. Not only was he the main replacement for Poona Ford at 1-tech and Jarran Reed at 3-tech, but he started at the latter to start the season with Reed serving a suspension. All told, Woods played 459 shots last season, delivering valuable depth and making several big plays – none greater than rounding up Jarred Goff on a failed two-point attempt in Week 5.
With all due respect to Woods, it’s not the player the Seahawks will miss as much in 2020 as the role. After all, if Pete Carroll and John Schneider have proven anything in the past decade, it’s that
running the ball wins games veteran defensive tackles can be found on the job, plugged into a hole and not missing a beat. Ahtyba Rubin, Tony McDaniel, Junior Siavii, Colin Cole, Alan Branch, Jason Jones, Kevin Williams and Woods all played roles on Seattle’s low-cost defensive line. It’s not whether the Seahawks can find this player for 2020; will they bother to do it?
Almost 48 hours since Seattle reduced its roster from 80 to 53, the depth of the defensive tackle remains almost nonexistent. On the active list, only Bryan Mone – a massive, totally one-dimensional technique 1 – offers an option behind Reed or Ford. In the practice squad are Anthony Rush, an equally tough 1-tech, and Cedrick Lattimore, an intriguing but unpolished UDFA.
Finding that reliable depth coin is vitally important and maybe even more so this year. The way the team has built their defensive line, a huge responsibility will fall on Reed to build pressure and produce passes as a rusher. To get the most out of him on the money drops, he can’t play all the starts before weakly trying to collapse the pocket on the third and long. Keeping Reed fresh is of the utmost importance if the pass rush is to come to life in the season ahead.
The Seahawks have no shortage of options, should they choose to look inward. The name everyone wanted, Damon Harrison, is a free agent, just like a handful of other plug and play veterans. Maybe Seattle had been hoping that another player would become available over the weekend that didn’t and now they’re going to move. Maybe they wait until after week 1 when the contract of this signing will no longer be guaranteed. Maybe Carroll’s praise for Mone at the start of training camp wasn’t just praise and the sophomore UDFA will be Woods this year – which would be a mistake, given his limited abilities.
The Seahawks are not short of answers to the question, “Where will the depth of the defensive tackle come from?” However, it should be noted that the question remains, at six days of week 1.