Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Cornerback Richard Sherman highlights a tough Seattle defense.
In 2012, Seattle's defense ranked first in the NFL in total points allowed.
The defense hopes to emulate that success heading into 2013. After all, it was one of the primary reasons behind the Seahawks' success last year and will be a critical element this season as well.
One year removed from allowing a league-leading 245 points—15.3 per game—Seattle was forced to make some changes to its defense during the offseason.
Cornerback Marcus Trufant and linebacker LeRoy Hill both left via free agency yet the Seahawks supplemented their departure by drafting defensive tackles Jordan Hill and Jesse Williams in the second and fourth rounds respectively.
They also brought in defensive end Michael Bennett to bolster the pass rush.
Under the tutelage of Seahawks defensive coordinator Dan Quinn, Seattle's defense figures to be as tough and aggressive as they were a year ago.
Some of those elements were on display against the Chargers.
The defense forced two interceptions last Thursday and sacked San Diego quarterbacks four times. While three of those sacks took place in the second half when Seattle's backups were in the game, the same aggressive-style of play was visible.
Veteran defensive tackle Brandon Mebane likes what he sees on this Seahawks team and feels that success in years prior can continue into this season. In a recent interview published via Eric Williams of The News Tribune, Mebane elaborated on this by saying:
First of all, as a group we want to be the best defensive line in the NFL, and we want to be the best defense in the NFL. That’s something we’re striving for every day. We’ve had some talented groups in the past, and this is one of them. I think we can do a lot of great things, but we’ve still got to go out there and prove it. Because we can have a great unit, but you still have to go out there and show that you’re capable of doing what you’re supposed to do.
Mebane, who is one of Seattle's longest-tenured players, has high hopes for the defense this year. Given their nature of play and expectations, the defense will continue to be a developing storyline.
Yet Danny O'Neil of MYNorthwest.com remains concerned about the defense, and most importantly, their pass rush.
[The pass rush] wasn't evident in the first half. Now, some of that's understandable as Cliff Avril didn't play after missing more than a week with a sore hamstring, linebacker Bruce Irvin was out because of a sore groin and Chris Clemons is still coming back from knee surgery. But at the same time, defensive tackles Bennett and Jordan Hill were acquired for their interior pass-rush ability and Seattle was unable to make Chargers starting quarterback Philip Rivers uncomfortable in the one possession he played.
While the lack of the pass rush is a question heading forward, the sample size remains small. What they did show, especially as the game drew on, is that the defensive scheme employed by Quinn works against offensive-minded NFL teams.
Over the course of Thursday's game, Seattle allowed only 262 yards of total offense along with only 10 points.
If that is an indication of what to expect heading forward, the Seahawks defense is in excellent shape.
In conclusion, there are a number of question marks still remaining. Injuries, as with every team, have played a factor early into the preseason and shall continue to have their impact. Yet injuries can often create opportunities and Seattle will make their adjustments.
There is plenty of depth within the team and given the nature of the NFC West, that depth should be an asset.
If the Seahawks hope to repeat and exceed the level of success they had last year, all of these elements will need to continue their development.
As of now, and as shown by these takeaways, the said elements are developing nicely.
All statistics, records and accolades courtesy of Pro-Football-Reference.com unless otherwise indicated.
Peter Panacy is a featured columnist for Bleacher Report. Follow him @PeterMcShots on Twitter.