Moore: Time to accept Seahawks don’t have pass rush that was expected
The Seahawks would have gone three straight games without a sack if Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson hadn’t slipped and fallen on his own in Sunday’s game at CenturyLink Field.
As it is, Seattle has recorded only six sacks in the last six games after dropping Andy Dalton five times in the season opener. With 11 sacks on the year, the Seahawks are 23rd in the league, well off their pace from last year when they had 43 to finished 11th in the league in the category.
Sacks aren’t the biggest deal in the world – I’d take consistent pressure featuring hits and hurries more than I’d take three sacks a game if the pass rush is sporadic for 60 minutes. But the Seahawks aren’t great in hits and hurries either, rarely bothering opposing quarterbacks. It’s more critical than usual this year with a secondary that’s considered to be average at best.
You could argue that the Seahawks didn’t get too many opportunities against Baltimore since Jackson threw it only 20 times, but still, this mostly sack-less trend has gone on for six weeks now.
I thought Jadeveon Clowney and Ziggy Ansah might have 11 sacks combined by now, but they have only one each, and both of their sacks come with asterisks. Clowney got credit for his only sack in the Cincinnati game while Dalton was basically running out of bounds. And Ansah sacked Arizona’s Kyler Murray on the last play of the game when it didn’t mean much since the Seahawks were already ahead by 17 points.
By comparison, Arizona’s Chandler Jones had four sacks Sunday against the Giants, twice as many in one game as Clowney and Ansah have all season combined.
At least Clowney was a noticeably disruptive force Sunday, showing up in the Ravens’ backfield all afternoon long. Ansah did not play for the third time this season, inactive with an ankle injury.
Clowney supporters will argue that he’s made a difference, not only as a pass rusher but as a run defender. He’s caused several holding penalties and draws double teams that allow his defensive-line teammates more room to operate. But for a guy who thinks he’s worth $20 million a year in free agency after the season ends? Maybe you’re seeing that, but I’m not.
Ansah, given his injury history, was signed to a moderate free-agent deal. If healthy, the Seahawks figured he’d still have a high ceiling and might even approach a double-digit sack season like Frank Clark had in 2018. But we’re basically seeing basement-level play from Ansah so far. Perhaps that’s too harsh since he did force Nick Chubb to fumble last week in Cleveland, but he hasn’t come close to producing the way he did in Detroit.
Acquiring Clowney and Ansah were still good decisions by general manager John Schneider, but you can’t really say they’ve worked out thus far, not when your defense is on a pace to record 29 sacks for the season.
Now you’re left hoping things will improve instead of expecting them to. Clowney has never had a double-digit sack season anyway, and with Ansah, I’d guess he’ll play in five or six of the remaining nine games and get two or three more sacks tops. Jarran Reed returned from a six-game suspension to play against Baltimore, and I didn’t see him doing much in his 2019 debut, but it’s unfair to think he’d make an instant impact after being gone for so long.
So we’re reduced to a bunch of maybes when it comes to the pass rush, though I admit to not being on board anymore with Pete Carroll’s wishful thinking. Remember when he said he was seeing things that led him to believe the pass rush would improve soon? I honestly forget when he made that comment; it might have been before the Cleveland game or the Baltimore game, but it doesn’t matter, it still hasn’t happened.
Maybe it will this week when the Seahawks face the reeling Falcons, who might be without Matt Ryan after the starting quarterback suffered an ankle injury in a 37-10 loss to the Rams on Sunday. Which means the Seahawks could be chasing backup QB Matt Schaub instead. Some good news – Ryan was sacked 19 times in the first seven games.
But we’re almost halfway through the season. It’s time to accept the reality that the Seahawks won’t have the pass rush we thought they’d have in 2019.