The biggest on-field issue for the Seahawks as they begin training camp this week may be the pass rush. Specifically, will there be more of one than there was a year ago when the Seahawks ranked in the middle of the pack in sack stats? (In what may be a better indicator than just sacks, the Seahawks ranked 18th in the NFL in QB sack percentage, meaning the number of times they were able to get to the QB in times he threw — teams that have more passes thrown against them obviously have a better chance at getting more sacks, and vice versa).
This is hardly a new question. The Seahawks spent the off-season trying to address it, bringing in free agents Cliff Avril and Michael Bennett to play rush end/OLB positions.
They also spent the OTAs and mini-camp experimenting with more ways to use Bruce Irvin (pictured above).
Irvin, though, will miss the first four games due to a suspension for PED use.
And the Seahawks also are still hoping that DE Chris Clemons — the leading pass rusher the last three seasons — is healthy for the season after suffering an ACL injury in the playoff win over Washington. It barely needs to be stated that a healthy Clemons will go a long way toward softening the angst over the pass rush.
The rest of it, meanwhile, is a little more subtle, since the Seahawks will be calling on a number of players out of a number of different formations to try to get more of a pass rush this season.
New defensive coordinator Dan Quinn, for instance, has promised to be more aggressive this season in calling for various sorts of pressures, relying on a stout secondary to play more man coverage.
The Seahawks are also going to experiment with a number of different fronts, using players such as Irvin in down spots sometimes, and up linebacking spots at other times.
What could also help is if Red Bryant returns to form and again dominates inside, forcing opponents to have to spend more resources on the middle, and if rookie DLs Jesse Williams and Jordan Hill mature quickly to also add help inside.
In other words, this will be far from a one-man job. The Seahawks think that between adding a few new pieces, refining a few existing ones, and changing a few schemes that they will find the right answers. We’ll find out soon.
Previous 15 Questions in 15 Days: