Room for Improvement
For all the laurels the Seattle Seahawks‘ defensive unit had in 2012 I still think this squad has a chance to improve — and quite frankly needs to improve — in a key area. In other words, boys, don’t you dare rest on those laurels.
But first the good…
Last year the Seahawks‘ D finish 4th in average yards allowed, the highest a Seattle defense has ever ranked. This is an incredibly stingy defense in terms of yards allowed. The Seahawks essentially bottled up any opponent’s running game and forced them to throw the ball into the Legion of Boom secondary, most times with limited success.
The defense also allowed a league low 245 points, which was good enough for a franchise record for a 16 game season. You should also note that 21 of those points were NOT scored against the Seahawks defense. They came from opponents’ interceptions, fumbles and special teams.
This squad was only the second defense in Seahawk’s history to rank among the top 10 in both average yards allowed rushing (10), and passing (6), as well as total yards (4).
Other top-10 statistics for the Seahawks included interceptions — 18 of them — which ranked them 8th in the league. The Seahawks also ranked 5th in forced fumbles with 20.
Where can they improve?
The most glaring statistic I see is in sacks. Despite Chris Clemons putting up another solid year with 11.5 sacks, which ranked him 9th in the NFL, the Seahawks only managed 36 sacks as a team in 2012. 36 sacks ranked the Seahawks 18th in the NFL.
Simply put, the Seahawks’ D is not doing enough in the sack department outside of Chris Clemons as he accounts for one third of their season total sacks. In case you haven’t heard, Clemons starting the season is still a huge question mark for this team thanks to Turf-Gate in the Redskin playoff game last year.
Having nearly one third of last year’s sack total potentially on the bench is probably what lead to the Seahawks mad dash to sign pass rushers this past off season. Cliff Avril and Michael Bennett were both signed. Bruce Irvin is moving to outside line backer this year.
Cliff Avril had 9.5 sacks in 2012 for Detroit. Michael Bennett had 9 for Tampa. Bruce Irvin managed 8 for Seattle last year in his rookie campaign. Heck, if you just ask those 4 guys to repeat in 2013 what they did last year you get 38 sacks instead of 36. Scatter another dozen sacks or so between the other guys and you are at 50. 50 sacks would have been in the top 10 last year, in fact it would have been fourth!
While the signings of Avril and Bennett look good on paper unfortunately we don’t live in a paper world.
As I mentioned before the availability of Chris Clemons to start the season is still a question mark. Avril did not play in the first preseason game and probably not the 2nd either with some sort of hamstring issue. Bruce Irvin is out for the first four regular season games for PED violations. Bennett on the other hand did play, and played well.
The Seahawks ultimate success in improving their sack production in 2013 might well come down to health. Clemons, Irvin, Bennett and Avril need to all be on the field and healthy. As Pete Carroll said after the signing of Michael Bennett, you can never have enough pass rushers.
How fast can all 4 of these guys be back on the field for a regular season game together? Best case scenario isn’t until week 5. I’m holding out hope that we have at least 3 out of 4 by week 2 with just Irvin out on suspension.
Until then, the Legion of Boom is going to have to continue to do what they have done for the past couple of seasons already. They need to cover tight, press coverage at the line, and ball hawk because for the first part of the season I’m not so sure the pass rush is going to show up.
You have to like to dream about this defense though. What could they do if the secondary didn’t have to cover for more than 3 seconds on most plays? Scary and fun to dream about for sure!