By Brady Henderson
The Seahawks have put together a top-10 defense thanks to a run-stuffing front seven and a secondary that has a penchant for interceptions and physical coverage.
Pressure on the quarterback has not been a major part of the formula, and that stands as one criticism of a defense than ranks ninth through 16 weeks.
The Seahawks have 31 sacks — including a team-high 11 by Chris Clemons — which puts them in a five-way tie for 20th in the league. Only the Browns (30 sacks) and Jaguars (28) have top-10 defenses and fewer sacks than the Seahawks.
Defensive ends Chris Clemons, left, and Raheem Brock, right, have accounted for 14 of Seattle’s 31 sacks this season. (AP)
Defensive tackle Brandon Mebane joined “Bob and Groz” on Monday and offered his take on the reason for Seattle’s relatively low sack totals.
“A lot of teams block us different. A lot of teams block us [with] max protection,” Mebane said, adding that doing so is a necessity in order to contain what he called an above average defensive line.
“They either have two guys blocking every guy or the quarterback may be [using] three-step drops or getting the ball out quicker. A lot of teams don’t hold the ball on us. The only time you maybe see the team hold the ball on us [is if] we’re blowing them out or we’re beating them by about three, maybe four touchdowns — you might see a quarterback drop back and hold the ball a little longer. But for the most part, teams are not going to hold the ball on us because our threat is our pass-rush.”
Not surprisingly, a look at the game-by-game stats shows a correlation between the score and Seattle’s sack totals. Twenty-one of the Seahawks’ 31 sacks have come in their seven wins. They’ve averaged 3.5 sacks in the four games they’ve won by at least 14 points and just over 1.5 in the other 12.
Mebane pointed to the Colts as an example of how playing from behind can affect a team’s pass-rush. Indianapolis is consistently among the league leaders in sacks, partly because their high-scoring offense builds a lead and forces opponents to throw the ball in order to catch up.
The Colts have struggled on offense this season without quarterback Peyton Manning. Their defense ranks 29th in sacks with 26.
Mebane was asked if opponents’ increased blocking emphasis explains Raheem Brock’s reduced sack totals. The 33-year-old defensive end set a career high with nine sacks last season and added two more in the playoffs. He has just three this season.
“A lot of teams, on third down, they might bring the back up and chip the defensive ends, or they might bring the back in and hang in the middle, or they might send out [only] two, maybe three receivers on routes and leave everybody else to block,” he said.
The Seahawks close out their season on Sunday against the Cardinals, a team they sacked three times in a Week 3 win at CenturyLink Field.
Follow Brady Henderson on Twitter @BradyHenderson