Wyman: The Seahawks need Everson Griffen more than Clay Matthews
Some breaking Seahawks news arrived late last week from NFL Network reporter Mike Silver, who noted that it appears Seattle has moved on from considering free-agent defensive end Jadeveon Clowney and instead switched its interest to two different veteran pass rushers.
That pair would be Clay Matthews, a longtime Seahawks rival who spent 10 years with Green Bay before going to the Los Angeles Rams in 2019, and Everson Griffen, who played alongside Matthews in Pete Carroll’s USC defense before becoming a stalwart on the Minnesota Vikings’ defensive line.
With their history with Carroll, both Matthews and Griffen could slide right in to familiar roles with the Seahawks. Former NFL linebacker and current Seahawks radio color commentator Dave Wyman says only one fits a need for Seattle, however, and that’s Griffen.
Both Matthews and Griffen had eight sacks last year, but Griffen is a little younger (he’ll turn 33 years old in December while Matthews is 34), and he made the Pro Bowl for the fourth time in five years in 2019 while Matthews hasn’t made a Pro Bowl since 2015. Though both are pass rushers, they rush from different spots in the defense. Matthews’ LEO linebacker spot is plenty full on Seattle’s roster, while the 5-technique position that Griffen would play lacks depth.
“To me, (Griffen) is a much better fit,” Wyman said Thursday on 710 ESPN Seattle’s Bob, Dave and Moore. “I don’t know if Clay Matthews can be just like a put-you-hand-in-the-dirt (edge rusher), but they don’t have a need for a linebacker, that’s for sure.”
On the Seahawks’ roster, the LEO spot includes the names of Bruce Irvin, Benson Mayowa, 2020 NFL Draft picks Darrell Taylor and Alton Robinson, and even Shaquem Griffin when he’s rushing the passer. At 5-technique, however, it’s essentially Rasheem Green, last year’s team sack leader, and 2019 first-round pick L.J. Collier, who is unproven after a disappointing rookie season that was hindered by an injury in training camp.
As Wyman would go on to explain, the 6-foot-3, 255-pound Matthews is a LEO as a lighter player with more quick-twitch abilities. Griffen, who is listed as 6-3 and 273 pounds, not only fits the bill as a more typical defensive end, but has excelled with the Vikings as a player who could open things up for their own LEO-type, Danielle Hunter.
“He’s one of those guys who makes it possible for guys on the other side to rush the passer,” Wyman said. “If you look at Danielle Hunter in Minnesota, he has had 28 sacks the last two seasons, and I think a lot of it is because of the play of Everson Griffen on the strong side.”
Part of the reason Wyman thinks that is because of what he saw going back to tape of the Seahawks’ 37-30 Monday Night Football win over the Vikings in December 2019, a game in which Griffen didn’t appear on the stat sheet but still certainly had an impact.
“He didn’t record a stat in the Monday Night Football game, but I watched the film and I think it was in the first quarter, he beat (Seahawks left tackle) Duane Brown on an inside move really badly. You don’t see Duane Brown get beat, and it actually flushed Russell (Wilson) out of the pocket and he had to take off running.”
Griffen may make more sense on Seattle’s roster, but Wyman was sure to say that he wouldn’t have a problem if the Seahawks signed Matthews instead.
“I’ll take Clay Matthews. His dad (former Cleveland Browns Pro Bowl linebacker Clay Matthews Jr.) was my hero. When I was playing, I remember looking at that guy, going ‘This guy is awesome.’ … (But) to me, as far as the numbers go, they need Griffen more than they need Matthews. … He’s built much more like a guy who would be able to withstand a double team. That’s really the position of need.”
You can hear Wyman’s full breakdown of Griffen and Matthews in this podcast beginning at the 31:20 mark.
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