Two weeks in and the Seahawks have the most dominant defense in the NFL. And to think: It's only going to get better.
The unit that had become a major Achilles' heel by the end of last season -- culminating in the season-ending, last-minute meltdown against Atlanta -- has regained its dominating form of the first half of last season.
And it has done it without several key players.
The Seahawks are easily the league's best defense, giving up the fewest points (five per game), total yards (230 per game) and passing yards (113 per game) while leading the NFL with seven takeaways.
The thunderous 29-3 blowout of the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday was the result of Seattle's star-studded secondary giving Colin Kaepernick nowhere to go with the ball. Earl Thomas, Kam Chancellor and Richard Sherman all had interceptions, and Walter Thurmond played another good game in place of injured Brandon Browner -- tipping the ball at the goal line that Thomas picked off.
Anquan Boldin was coming off a 13-catch, 208-yard performance against Green Bay in the opener, and Sherman requested to be allowed to shadow him rather than stay on the left side as Sherman usually does. He blanked the 32-year-old veteran, who ended up catching one pass for seven yards on one of the few plays he was not marked by Sherman.
Meanwhile, new additions Michael Bennett and Cliff Avril -- in his first action for Seattle -- each had a sack as the defense held Kaepernick to 13-of-28 passing for 127 yards.
A big part of the resurgence of the defense has been the health of Chancellor and Red Bryant, who both were just shadowy images of themselves by the end of last season due to foot injuries.
Bryant spearheaded a run defense that held Frank Gore to 16 yards on nine carries Sunday night.
“Red has come out of the chute playing great technique,” coach Pete Carroll told reporters. “He’s hard to move. He’s been very consistent. He’s doing the things that we’re counting on him to do."
Carroll still thinks his entire defense can be better though.
"I just think we took the next step," he told 710 ESPN. "We didn't do anything special; we just played the way we wanted to play, but we had banked on all of the preparation time and the guys did a great job.
"We're getting better," he added. "We have a long ways to go here, too, and we're going to get some players who are gonna help us, too. In the next few weeks, that’s gonna make a difference."
He's referring to the imminent returns of Browner, Chris Clemons, Bruce Irvin and Jordan Hill.
Carroll said Browner will practice with the intent of playing against Jacksonville on Sunday.
Clemons sounds questionable for Jacksonville but should be ready for Seattle's game in Houston in Week 4.
Hill, a rookie defensive tackle who figures to bolster the inside rush and overall depth, could return to practice this week after missing the first two games with a strained bicep.
And Irvin will be back for the Week 5 game in Indianapolis.
“You talk about competition, those guys will be battling to get those rush opportunities,” Carroll said. “We’re going to keep getting better.”