The legion of boom days are long gone in Seattle.
Not just in names — Richard Sherman, Kam Chancellor, Earl Thomas and Brandon Browner have moved on or retired — but in production.
That’s good news for Detroit Lions quarterback Jared Goff who faced Seattle nine times from 2016-20 while he was in Los Angeles. His teams went 5-4, but Goff had limited success, completing just 62.3% of his passes for an average of 267.3 yards per game, with eight touchdowns and nine interceptions.
Goff was asked Wednesday how similiar Seattle’s defense looks now compared to when he played in the NFC West.
“Not much, it’s a completely different scheme now,” Goff said. “The overall mentality they always have is turnovers and that’s always been something that coach (Pete) Carroll has preached all the way back to his time at USC; going for the ball, it’s all about the ball.
“We’re aware of that and they’re good at it, so being aware of that.”
Goff singled out just three familiar faces: linebacker Jordyn Brooks, safety and former Lions standout Quandre Diggs and nickel back Justin Coleman.
Seattle’s new-ish scheme, which starts with a 3-4 up front and split safeties in the back, hasn’t yielded many successful results to this point.
The Seahawks have forced just one three-and-out in their opponents’ 27 drives — a rate of 4% which ranks at the bottom of the league. The Lions, who have the fifth-worst rate, have coaxed three-and-outs on 17% of drives.
The Seahawks have forced an NFL-worst five punts through three games.
They also rank last in yards allowed per pass attempt, fourth-to-last in yards per play and third-down conversion rate and are in the bottom 10 in yards per rush. In the past two weeks, they allowed 759 yards and 54 points combined to two middle-of-the-pack offenses in the San Francisco 49ers and Atlanta Falcons.
Still, Goff still sees a team that can create problems.
“The first guy you see is Diggs, I’ve always had so much respect for him,” Goff said. “He’s been such a good player for so long … he’s the first guy who jumps out.
“Those other guys are young, but they’re playing well, they’re athletic, they make plays on the ball and do a good job, so it will be a challenge for us.”
While many of the stats show a leaky defense, the Seahawks are good in one area — the red zone.
Only three teams have been better at preventing touchdowns when opponents get inside the red zone. Two of their stops came on the opening week when they forced fumbles on the 1-yard line in a season-opening win against Denver.
The Lions have the second-best touchdown rate (84.62%) in the league when in the red zone, so something will have to give.
“It’s always important, it’s a four-point swing so that’s an emphasis for us definitely this week,” Goff said about the importance of capitalizing on scoring opportunities. “In my experience playing Seattle they’ve always been sort of bend don’t break mentality on defense, always been really good in the red zone”
The Seahawks are also without their best defensive player, Jamal Adams, who underwent season-ending quad surgery following an injury in Week 1. However, the Lions may be without a few top options as well.
Running back D’Andre Swift is dealing with both an ankle sprain and sprained shoulder. Amon-Ra St. Brown has a sprained ankle too, as do Josh Reynolds and DJ Chark. T.J. Hockenson also missed practice Wednesday with a foot injury.
The likely next men up are Jamaal Williams in the backfield and Kalif Raymond and Quintez Ceephus at wide receiver.
“It really doesn’t (change our mentality) much,” Goff said. “We may or may not have a couple of those guys and we’ll see as the week goes, but the guys who would step in I feel comfortable with, I’ve had a lot of reps with all those guys.
“I think last year, as brutal as it was, there was a lot of valuable reps with a lot of those guys who may need to step in.”
Perhaps the last tipping point in this matchup is location: Ford Field. Seattle, whose crowd is known as the “12th man” is consistently one of the toughest road venues to play. Through two games at Ford Field this season, the Lions are just 1-1, but both opponents walked away discussing how difficult it was hear play calls.
“Huge advantage,” Goff said. “Especially on defense, right, and even for us on offense when it’s quiet it’s a bit easier. It’s fun, it’s energy, it’s passion and big plays happen, turnovers, it all feeds off the crowd.
“Hell yeah, we’ve noticed it.”