Moore: Clowney’s consistency, of lack thereof, should be hang-up for Seattle
The more I look into his only season in Seattle, the more I feel like the Seahawks should let Jadeveon Clowney sign with another team in free agency.
I know he’s a terrific player, but with him, the Seahawks’ defense still rated only 22nd overall. Could they be that much worse without him? Certainly. But could they better without him? That’s possible too, particularly if you get a pass-rushing specialist who would presumably help out the Seahawks’ secondary by putting more consistent pressure on the quarterback.
Consistency. That’s a word I hadn’t thought of as it relates to Clowney until we talked Wednesday to Willie McGinest of the NFL Network on Bob, Dave and Moore (listen here).
While acknowledging Clowney’s splash plays, McGinest questioned his consistency, which caused me to look at his game-by-game stats to see if he’s right.
We all remember Clowney’s biggest game on the biggest stage on a Monday night when the Seahawks beat the then-unbeaten 49ers in overtime. As a one-man wrecking crew, Clowney recorded a season-high five tackles, a sack, a tackle for loss, five QB hits and a 10-yard fumble return for a touchdown.
His second-best game occurred two weeks before that game when he had three tackles, a sack, two tackles for loss and four QB hits in a win over Atlanta.
Or maybe you think his second-best game was the first game against Arizona when he had only one tackle but had an amazingly athletic pick-six of Kyler Murray, a play where we learned that Clowney is not only acrobatic but left-handed too.
But there were stretches when Clowney didn’t do much of anything. If you want to give him more credit than that because you believe that his disruptive presence frequently offers more than the stats show, I’ll agree with you to a point. If we’re talking about a player earning in the $6 million to $8 million range, fine, he can have some statistically subpar games. But we’re talking about a guy who wants $20 million or more, and I just don’t think he’s worth that much when you look at some of his no-show games.
Like the loss to the Saints when he had one tackle. Or the win over the Browns when he had three tackles. Or the loss to the Rams when he had two tackles.
In all three of those games, he had no QB hits, and according to ESPN’s stats Clowney hit the quarterback only 12 times for the year. If you take away the first San Francisco game and the Atlanta game, he had only three QB hits in his other 11 games.
Know how many sacks he had in the second half of the season? None. And after registering his first sack in the first game against the Bengals, Clowney had a six-game stretch without another one until he dropped Matt Schaub in Atlanta.
If he were a baseball player, we’d marvel at his occasional 500-foot home runs and tolerate the strikeouts. And if you want to defend Clowney to McGinest or anyone else, you could argue that he played the second half of the season with a core injury, missing three games but playing at less than 100 percent in five of them and still producing a modestly positive impact.
You could also argue that Clowney faced double-teams all year long because Seattle didn’t have good defensive linemen around him. But still, doesn’t Aaron Donald make plays when he’s double-teamed? Point is, if you think you’re a $20 million player, you should still be making plays no matter what.
I’d also contend that the Seahawks weren’t really worse in the three games without him. Their rushing defense was, allowing an average of 50 more yards on the ground in those Clowney-less games against Philadelphia, Carolina and Arizona. Their passing defense was actually better, allowing 30 fewer yards without him. And they also allowed 26 points with him, 20 points without him.
I’m not trying to go out of my way to trash on Clowney. I know he’s a really good player, even great at times. But that’s the thing about him: “At times.”
I’m with McGinest. If the Seahawks can figure out a way to trade for Yannick Ngakoue or find a pair of pass-rushers in free agency, that’s a better route to take than one with Clowney.
More from Moore: Seahawks must add RB depth this offseason