Originally written on NorthWest Sports Beat  |  Last updated 11/19/14
Red’s Return to Form In what we can all hope was the ugliest game in the Seattle Seahawks 2013 season, should any of us be surprised that it was Red Bryant that led the charge on defense? You didn’t misread that, and it certainly wasn’t a typo. Red Bryant came to play on Sunday, and was a pivotal player on the Seahawks defensive front. While I still find it difficult to comprehend the faith that Pete Carroll has in him as this team’s five-technique – rather than three or one – Sunday’s performance has me cautiously optimistic that last season was an outlier rather than the norm. You! Shall Not! Pass! While my vague allusions to Bryant’s dominant performance are on-par with what you might get out of ESPN, it’s the advanced metrics and comparison to his fellow lineman that will set both he and I apart from our peers. While FootballOutsiders have yet to provide the really fancy stats, what I’ve surmised from my time on ProFootballFocus more than does justice to his level of play in Charlotte. Of all the Seahawks defensive lineman, ends and tackles alike to play 30 or more snaps, only Bryant finished with a positive rating at 2.0 overall. Making up his 2.0 rating is a 1.4 grade in run defense and a 0.4 in pass rush, with the other 0.2 being accounted for in his penalty rating. This chart posted below actually provides some of the grading and other metrics used in this piece. Seahawks defensive stats courtesy ProFootballFocus.com   A Healthy Bryant is a Good Bryant For the first time in a long time, Bryant wasn’t injured and oh how it showed. The main difference being that rather than holding his ground, – like injuries forced him to for the better part of last season – Bryant was forcing the issue on the Panthers right side. He was much quicker off the snap, and his being able to plant his feet allowed him to get leverage on the Panthers’ tackles with regularity. It is hard to decipher whether the Panthers were running away from him, or wisely deciding to aim their ground game directly at the Seahawks injury ravaged LEO spot, but whatever the case it’s always a good sign when you force any facet of the oppositions offense to become one-dimensional. Were K.J. Wright to hold his own at the WILL backer, to compensate for O’Brien Schofield playing LEO, the Panthers might have had to run this offense entirely through Cam Newton. Dan Quinn’s versatility is key. So long as Bryant’s health and new diet can hold up, so  too should his play. And that bodes incredibly well for Seattle’s run defense. Versatility on Display What had me most excited about the selection of Dan Quinn as the new defensive coordinator, following Gus Bradley‘s departure, was the possibility that he would bring his hybrid-front defense with him from Florida. After years of Bradley implementing an effective, yet more or less predictable base 4-3, the thought of seeing the Seahawks switch in and out from the 4-3 and 3-4 fronts had me half-curious and half-excited. I’m not sure if those two halves left any room for another feeling, but giving myself the benefit of the doubt here I must also say that I was another quarter reserved. I mean, do the Seahawks really have the personnel to pull this off? The early returns out of pre-season gave me little in the way of tangible evidence with regards as to who would fit well or not in this new hybrid defense, but the same can not be said of week 1. This rings no truer than it does in regards to Bryant’s performance; he nearly had more snaps in week 1 than he did the entire pre-season. Playing as either the three-technique in Quinn’s newly installed 3-4 (where he spent most of his time at Texas A&M), or the five-technique that Carroll will seemingly have him playing forever in the base defense, he was equally effective. To give an idea of how difficult it is to switch between schemes on the outside of the line, reference O’Brien Schofield (who’s spent his entire career as a 3-4 linebacker) and his numbers as the starting LEO. It’s not as easy as it sounds; Bryant just found a way to make it look easy. CLICK HERE TO CHECK OUT THE SEAHAWKS BLOG PAGE IN OUR CLUBHOUSE SECTION AT NWSB!
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