Moore: If Seahawks can improve to 35 sacks, how will they get there?
We all know what the Seahawks’ biggest perceived weakness is at this point – their pass rush. Have they done enough to improve it?
Most fans think they haven’t. The Seahawks have lost three players who combined for 10 of their 28 sacks last year (Quinton Jefferson 3.5, Mychal Kendricks three, Ziggy Ansah 2.5, and Al Woods one).
And they’ve probably lost Jadeveon Clowney, who had three sacks. So at 13 sacks, that’s nearly half of their total in 2019.
But they’ve added four players, maybe five, who should help. Bruce Irvin had 8.5 sacks last year at Carolina, and Benson Mayowa had seven for the Raiders. They drafted pass rushers Darrell Taylor from Tennessee and Alton Robinson from Syracuse. They also drafted linebacker Jordyn Brooks in the first round, and Pete Carroll expects him to be a factor in the pass rush too.
Even if they don’t add another free-agent pass rusher such as Michael Bennett, Everson Griffen or Clay Matthews, I’m guessing they’ll have 35 sacks in 2020, which would still put them below average (the Jets were 23rd in 2019 with 35 sacks), but would be a passable and realistic number to shoot for this season.
An improved secondary with cornerback Quinton Dunbar and a full season with safety Quandre Diggs should allow the pass rushers more time to get to the quarterback, and sometimes a split second is the difference between a touchdown pass and a drive-stopping sack.
Here’s a prediction of where I think the sacks will come from this year:
• 1) Bruce Irvin, 7 sacks. That’s his average the last six years. Turns 33 in November but should still have enough left to hit his average.
• 2) Rasheem Green, 6 sacks. Led the team with four last year. Just banking on a slight uptick in his third season.
• 3) Jarran Reed, 5 sacks. A disappointment last year in 10 games with only two sacks. Banking on Reed playing closer to the way he did in 2018 when he registered 10.5 sacks. Based on the size of the contract they gave him (two years, $23 million), Seahawks think he’s going to bounce back in a big way.
• 4) Benson Mayowa, 4 sacks. Encouraging sign: He had seven sacks in the first nine games last year. Discouraging sign: None the rest of the year. Hoping knee injury had more to do with that than a dropoff in his motor.
• 5) Bobby Wagner, 3 sacks. Had three sacks last year, just assuming he’ll be right around that number again this year.
• 6) Darrell Taylor, 2.5 sacks. Frank Clark was a second-rounder too, and as good as he is now, he had only three sacks in his first season. John Clayton thinks Taylor will lead the Seahawks with eight sacks, but I’ve got the rookie coming up with 2.5 in a developmental season.
• 7) Branden Jackson, 2 sacks. Good guy, good rotational player. Had two sacks last year and fair to expect the same number in 2020.
• 8) L.J. Collier, 1.5 sacks. He’ll start to flash in his second year. I like to think he struggled in his first season due to inexperience and a high ankle sprain suffered in training camp that never allowed him to be at full strength.
• 9) (Tie) Marquise Blair, Poona Ford and Alton Robinson, 1 sack each. Taking a flyer on the hard-hitting Blair to show up once, anyway, in the QB’s face. Ford had half a sack last year, and Robinson in his first year should be good for one, shouldn’t he?
• 10) (Tie) Jordyn Brooks and K.J. Wright, 0.5 sacks each. Might have a job share at linebacker. Figure to combine for one of the Seahawks’ 35 sacks.