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September 11, 2014 at 10:02 PM

Seahawks’ defensive line rotation still evolving

One of the bigger questions for the Seahawks this season was how the defensive line rotation would evolve.

Last year, the Seahawks had a dependable seven-man rotation in which none played more than 57 percent of the snaps nor fewer than 46, keeping everyone fresh for Super Bowl push as well as giving the team a lot of options for scheming against different types of defenses.

For the opener against Green Bay, the snaps were a little more concentrated at the top, with Michael Bennett playing 49 of 62 snaps (79 percent) and Cliff Avril 40 (65 percent). From there it looked like this: Jordan Hill 33 (52 percent), O’Brien Schofield 30 (48), Kevin Williams 24 (39), Brandon Mebane 23 (37), Bruce Irvin 19 (31), Tony McDaniel 16 (26) and Cassius Marsh 16 (26).

The Seahawks played almost solely nickel against Green Bay (57 of 62 snaps) which helped contribute to some higher snap counts for players such as Hill, used a lot as an interior pass rusher in the nickel, and fewer for players such as Mebane and McDaniel, whose largest roles are in run defense.

Defensive coordinator Dan Quinn met the media today and said this when asked about the defensive line rotation.

“Well, when we got Bruce back off of PUP that added another rusher into it so as we’re going forward his reps will now get to increase,” Quinn said. “He’s going to be a big factor in our nickel rushes. He’s worked extremely hard at it so I’m anxious to see him go. Inside, mixture of guys, Jordan Hill, is certainly somebody. [Brandon] Mebane is somebody inside who can actually push it inside. Certain games call for lots of nickel and other games, just some of the time. Last week’s game, called for a really high percentage of nickel so sometimes we will play nickel with big guys where you can play the run and third down nickel where it’s more rushers. I know it seems a little bit fluid. In other games, it is more so because if you play the whole game in a nickel group then you need eight or nine rushers in our opinion to get a picture. We have enough for two minutes. We have one both at the end of the half and at the end of the game so I want to make sure we get going with those guys.”

Asked about Bennett being a wildcard because he can play several roles, which gets him on the field more, Quinn said: “Yes because he plays end and tackle. Marsh plays end and tackle. (Greg) Scruggs plays end and tackle. We mainly keep Avril and O.B. [O’Brien Schofield] and Irv [Bruce Irvin] outside.”

Quinn echoed what coach Pete Carroll said earlier this week about Irvin appearing to be a slightly different player now that he is healthy following off-season hip surgery.

The thing that I have noticed a difference in is the strength that he has now,” Quinn said. “He’s definitely a bigger man in terms of what he did in the offseason. He’s 10 pounds, 12 pounds bigger. He’s got more power into his rushes. That’s one thing you can definitely notice right from the start. He’s always had great initial quickness but he’s worked hard this offseason improving as a rusher. You get that prior to getting his hip worked on and then when he came back, that’s where his focus has been on. So we’ll get him back fully into Sam (strongside linebacker) and Leo as we move forward.”



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