Closer look at Seahawks' improved defense

December, 23, 2011
12/23/11
3:39
PM ET
The Arizona Cardinals have improved dramatically on defense over the past couple months. We've discussed some of the potential reasons.

The Seattle Seahawks were better than the Cardinals on defense early in the season, but they have still made significant gains. They ranked 22nd in points per game allowed and 16th in yards per game allowed after Week 9. They currently rank sixth in points and eighth in yards. They lead the NFL in takeaways since Week 10 with 18, two more than San Francisco.

With an assist from Hank Gargiulo of ESPN Stats & Information, I've put together a chart showing the Seahawks' playing-time percentages by player for Weeks 1-9 and 10-15. The chart shows only players whose playing time has changed by at least 10 percentage points from then to now.

The emergence of linebacker K.J. Wright and cornerback Richard Sherman stand out as important factors in the Seahawks' improved play.

Sometimes Wright and the Seattle linebackers can be vulnerable to misdirection plays, a concern against San Francisco in Week 16. Overall, however, their aggressive play has been an asset.
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