Where Seahawks stand after beefing up pass rush
By Brady Henderson
The Seahawks invested heavily in their pass rush after finishing last season with 33 sacks, tied for 19th-most in the NFL.
They gave Jason Jones a one-year deal, drafted Bruce Irvin in the first round and rewarded Chris Clemons with a lucrative new contract.
The results have been mixed. Irvin and Clemons have performed relative to reasonable expectations, but the overall improvement in Seattle’s pass rush hasn’t been overwhelming. The Seahawks have 32 sacks with three games remaining.
“We’ve played solid and we’ve been a little bit inconsistent on [getting to] the quarterback I think at times, even though we are in the top 10 in sacks per attempt,” defensive line coach Todd Wash told Bob Stelton, Dave Grosby and Dave Wyman during “The Huddle” on Thursday. “We’ve got to do a better job of getting after the quarterback.”
With that, here’s a look at how the Seahawks’ pass-rush production breaks down:
Seahawks defensive end Bruce Irvin leads all rookies with eight sacks. (AP)
Clemons. The Seahawks gave Clemons a new contract worth $22 million over three seasons. So far, so good. Clemons leads the Seahawks with nine sacks and is in position to reach double digits for the third consecutive season.
Irvin. The 15th overall pick leads all rookies in sacks with eight. He picked one up late in last week’s blowout win over Arizona to avoid going a third straight game without a sack. The Seahawks raved about Irvin’s explosiveness when they drafted him. Wash said he recently fell back into a habit of not coming off the ball as quickly as he could. “Timid” was the word Wash used. Wash also said Irvin is developing a nice spin move.
Jones. The Seahawks hoped Jones would improve their interior pass rush when they gave the versatile lineman a one-year, $4.5 million deal. Jones has 2.5 sacks and has missed two games with an ankle injury.
Brandon Mebane. Mebane, better known as a run-stuffing defensive tackle, has managed three sacks despite often coming off the field in obvious passing situations.
Others. Defensive linemen have combined for 25.5 of Seattle’s 32 sacks. The number was 21 for all of last season. So even if the overall sack total hasn’t drastically improved, it’s safe to say that Seattle’s defensive line is producing more in that department than it did a season ago. Rookie defensive end Greg Scruggs has two sacks while defensive tackle Alan Branch has one.
Red Bryant has yet to record a sack while playing mostly on first and second downs. You may remember the run-stuffing defensive end vowing to improve as a pass rusher over the offseason. Linemen can impact passing plays even if they don’t get to the quarterback, of course, and Bryant has been credited with three passes defensed. He’s also coming off the field in obvious passing situations.
The Bills, Seattle’s next opponent, have allowed only 25 sacks this season. The Seahawks do play their final two games at CenturyLink Field, where the crowd noise puts opposing offensive tackles at a disadvantage.
This will be a discussion to revisit when the season ends.