How the Seahawks can improve pass rush along with re-signing Clowney
The talk surrounding the Seahawks leading up to the start of free agency on March 18 is what they will do to improve their pass rush from 2019 to 2020, and namely, will they be able to keep defensive end Jadeveon Clowney for years to come.
The Seahawks had just 28 sacks during the regular season and were one of four teams in the NFL who failed to record 30 sacks.
Former NFL linebacker Dave Wyman of 710 ESPN Seattle’s Bob, Dave and Moore joined John Clayton to talk about the likelihood that Clowney will remain in Seattle and what else the team needs to do to address the pass rush.
“I don’t think it’s ever been more clear in an offseason with the Seahawks than it is this year, it’s never been more obvious what they need. And I think everybody would say the same answer: it’s pass rush,” Wyman said. “If you can get a pass rush in here, and I wrote an article about it, the Seahawks, the 28 sacks they had this year, on those drives, they did not give up one touchdown … for some reason, (the pass rush) really affected that defense this year in a good way and in a bad way with just the absence of sacks.”
Clowney isn’t the only Seattle defensive linemen that will hit free agency, as defensive tackles Jarran Reed and Al Woods are both unrestricted free agents, as are Quinton Jefferson – who can line up both inside and outside – and Branden Jackson. Wyman said the majority of the offseason focus needs to be on the defensive ends.
“To me, if you can get an Al Woods-type and work in Quinton Jefferson and Poona Ford (you’ll be OK),” Wyman said. “It’s more about those guys coming off the edge. If you can get a couple of guys (in free agency and the draft) and develop a couple of guys like Rasheem Green … to me, it’s more valuable to get the edge rushers. So I’m kind of leaning towards letting Jarran Reed go out and test the market because I feel like that’s what he wants to do and then spend your money on the edge.”
Reed made it clear on social media he’s going to try and get as much money as he can, which could be a sign he walks, but Wyman says there’s plenty of optimism in terms of Clowney remaining with the Seahawks.
“It sounds like he wants to be here and to me, that indicates that he’s willing to work with them,” he said. “I don’t know how they’d structure (a contract) or maybe he takes a little bit less … what does every veteran want? … You want a chance to go to the playoffs and a chance to go win the Super Bowl … I feel like Clowney would take a little less or structure his deal so it’s friendly for the team to get a chance to be on a team that has Pete Carroll and Russell Wilson and a chance to win.”
Clayton said something to consider is that Clowney could be attractive for teams with 3-4 defenses (three defensive linemen and four linebackers) as an outside linebacker, which is what he played with the Houston Texans before they traded him to Seattle, but that Clowney likely wouldn’t want to play in that system again. That eliminates roughly half of the league.
That limits the scope to teams with 4-3 defenses, Clayton said, and it gets even more limited to teams who are ready and able to compete who also have the cap space to sign Clowney to a deal worth close to $20 million annually.
Wyman agreed that the list of legit suitors will be likely small as a result.
“I think he wants to play for a 4-3 team and he wants to play for someone that can win and for a good franchise,” Wyman said. “It narrows it down pretty clearly here and I would be surprised, really surprised, if they did not find a way to work some kind of a deal with him.”
With Clowney’s ability to disrupt both quarterbacks and run games, Wyman thinks they should target someone who’s more of a “quick-twitch” player. To do that, Seattle may have to do something they haven’t done with general manager John Schneider.
“It’d be nice to see them maybe move up in the draft and get somebody like that, because I think if you’d ask Schneider, he’d tell you the top-10 is a lot different than (the rest of the first round),” Wyman said.
Wyman also thinks the defense should be “cut loose” more than they were in 2019.
“They were kind of cautious and that’s how they played their defense last year, so maybe also you get a little bit more out of a sort of attacking brand of defense as opposed to what they did last year, which was just keeping everything in front of them,” Wyman said. “They need to be more attacking, more aggressive … a more physical brand of defense and more aggressive and I think they can get some sacks out of that.”
Listen to Wyman’s conversation with The Professor at this link or in the player below at the 19:40 mark.
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