Seahawks hope Barkevious Mingo can be dual threat on defense
RENTON, Wash. (AP) — The Seattle Seahawks would be thrilled if Barkevious Mingo became the new version of what Bruce Irvin was during their championship run — strong on stopping the run in early downs, a threat as a rusher in passing situations.
Doing so would mean Mingo is finally meeting the expectations that came with being the No. 6 overall pick five years ago, which has happened only briefly during his first three stops in the NFL.
Seattle made only a few free agent signings on the defensive side in the offseason and none has the chance to flash as much as Mingo because of what Seattle believes he could add to its revamped defense. And especially in a defensive scheme that is geared even more toward the linebackers with Ken Norton Jr. taking over as defensive coordinator.
“It’s definitely finding roles for guys and getting to figure them out and who they are and all that,” coach Pete Carroll said. “He has done a lot of stuff, even back in college. Right now, to have him playing outside linebacker and also rushing in the nickel package, it’s just the right spot for him. He also has a lot of drop ability in there so we can do some things and we can do some intricate things with him as well. Very lucky to have him.”
The strongside linebacker’s impact in Seattle’s defensive scheme is somewhat limited unless he can be an exceptional pass rusher. Whenever Seattle goes with an extra defensive back it’s the strongside linebacker that comes off the field with middle linebacker Bobby Wagner and weakside linebacker K.J. Wright remaining on it.
The way to stay on the field in that position is get to the quarterback. It’s what Irvin did so well during his four seasons with Seattle and what the Seahawks haven’t been able to fully replicate since he left for Oakland in free agency.
Seattle wanted to see just how much Mingo could affect the game from that position in the preseason opener against Indianapolis so he was on the field with second- and third-team players with the specific task of rushing the passer. While the rest of Seattle’s defensive starters were resting, Mingo was recording one of Seattle’s three sacks.
“I believe in my ability to the highest degree and I know when it’s time to get to the quarterback I know I can do that,” he said.
Mingo was part of an underperforming first-round draft class. Only three of the top 17 picks in that draft — Lane Johnson, Ezekiel Ansah and Sheldon Richardson — have been voted to a Pro Bowl. Mingo has been lumped into the group of disappointments along with Eric Fisher, Luke Joeckel and Dion Jordan.
Part of Mingo’s trouble is a lack of stability. He was drafted by the Browns, but Cleveland was in chaos during his time there. He was traded to New England shortly before the start of the 2016 regular season and lasted just one year after starting one game with the Patriots. He spent last year with Indianapolis, recording a career-high 32 tackles, but was again without a home after the season.
Seattle made a simple offer: prove he could set the edge against the run and when called upon, get some sacks.
“First off, I’ve been on a team that’s had a lot of turnover from the get go. So there were different coaches there,” Mingo said. “I feel like some of the other coaches, maybe it’s been a lack of communication between us and we haven’t gotten the play style … down, and that position wasn’t right for me. I feel like this thing here, and being with these coaches and players, it’s the right fit.”