What the numbers say about Seattle’s defense

November 4th, 2019 | Written by Rob Staton

Jadeveon Clowney has been a one-man band on the D-line

Sunday’s win against Tampa Bay highlighted the great imbalance with this team. The offense is firing on all cylinders and the defense and special teams are sputtering.

I’ve spent some time studying the numbers to see what they tell us.

The cliffs notes version of this piece is thus — the defense overall is performing on par with the worst teams in the league. However, a lot of the data points the finger directly at the defensive line. There are positives in terms of turnovers, quarterback rating and passes defended. Bradley McDougald is excelling in coverage and Jadeveon Clowney is leading a one-man pass rush.

So when you consider those positives and place them alongside the significant negatives such as conceding 6.2 yards per play and giving up the fifth most points in the league so far — it’s quite easy to connect the dots to the D-line.

That’s not a major revelation admittedly. We can all see the issues. Ziggy Ansah, sadly, looks like the defensive version of Eddie Lacy. They’re not creating any interior pressure and they’re almost entirely dependent on Clowney. With the trade deadline passing there’s practically nothing they can do about the situation until the off-season.

Two things seem inevitable at this stage. Firstly, the poor play of the D-line could easily cost the Seahawks a chance to be a serious contender at a time when Russell Wilson is playing the best season of his career. Secondly, it’s incredibly likely that they will prioritize fixing the D-line in the off-season. Don’t be surprised if they act aggressively to address this issue because it’s the biggest thing holding this team back (although not the only thing).

The Seahawks defense in 2019

The first alarming stat is they’re conceding 6.2 yards per play. That’s the fourth most YPP in the league.

Here’s the bottom ten:

Cincinnati — 6.6
Miami — 6.3
Oakland — 6.3
Seattle — 6.2
Arizona — 6.1
Detroit — 6.1
Green Bay — 6.1
New York Giants — 6.0
Baltimore — 6.0
Atlanta — 6.0

It says everything about Seattle’s defense this year that they actually improved their standing yesterday by only conceding 5.8 yards per play against the Bucs.

Stats like this can be read a number of ways, of course. Green Bay and Baltimore are also on the list and they too are winning football games. I suspect, unfortunately, that they’ll simply endure the same issues as Seattle down the line (although Baltimore were impressive against the Patriots last night).

It’s also interesting that while New England (4.3) and San Francisco (4.5) easily lead the league in YPP allowed on defense, the Jets are doing surprisingly well (5.2) as are the struggling Chicago Bears (4.9) and Denver Broncos (5.0).

However, that can arguably be answered away. The Jets aren’t struggling because of Gregg Williams’ defense. The entire franchise is a mess. Williams, to be fair, is somewhat holding up his end of the deal as one of the more successful (albeit controversial) defensive coordinators in the league. It’s the same for Denver and Vic Fangio and the Bears with their supreme defensive talent spearheaded by Khalil Mack.

You would hope the Seahawks would thrive due to the expertise of their defensive minded Head Coach who has equally enjoyed a lot of success in the NFL. It isn’t happening this year. It’s pretty remarkable that the defense is giving up a full 6.2 yards on average every time the ball is snapped. It’s unsustainable. And without their offense propping up the unit, they’d likely be in the same boat as some of the teams listed above.

They’ve also given up the fifth most points (230) and only trail the Dolphins (256), the Buccaneers (252), the Cardinals (251) and the Falcons (250). The two teams below the Seahawks are the Redskins (219) and the Giants (218). The combined record of the other teams is 10-39-1. I’m not sure anything promotes the performance of Seattle’s offense better than the fact they’re somehow 7-2 despite conceding so many points.

The Seahawks have 15 sacks. One of those was a tap on Lamar Jackson when he was already on the turf. One was the Jameis Winston ’empty-hand throw’ yesterday that for some reason went down as a Mychal Kendricks sack. There are only six teams with fewer sacks so far — Baltimore (14), Detroit (14), the Jets (13), Miami (12), Cincinnati (9) and Atlanta (7). With the exception of Baltimore (who lost their best pass rushers in the off-season and, unlike the Seahawks, didn’t spend their first round pick on a pass rusher or sign Ziggy Ansah or trade for Jadeveon Clowney), the rest are a collection of teams destined to pick in the top-10 next year.

Sacks aren’t everything of course. Pressures can be more indicative of performance. The Seahawks have 58 pressures this season, the sixth fewest in the league. Only Oakland (40), Miami (42), Cincinnati (47), Atlanta (51) and Indianapolis (54) have fewer. It gets worse though. In terms of pressure percentage per drop-back, the Seahawks are at 15.5%. That’s the second worst record in the league behind only Oakland (12.9%). In comparison, San Franciso’s pressure percentage is 31.8% and leads the league.

Considering we see Baltimore and Green Bay showing up on the same under-performing lists as Seattle, it’s worth noting that both teams are league average for pressure percentage. The Ravens are at 21% and the Packers at 21.5%. If Seattle was simply league average at creating pressure, it’d cure a lot of ills. Sadly, this isn’t the case.

Seattle has 28 QB hurries which again is in the bottom third of the league. Their percentage of hurries per drop-back is 7.5% — the seventh worst record in the league.

You might ask — why don’t they blitz more to try and create some pressure? They’ve actually blitzed 93 times — 12th most in the league. In comparison San Francisco have only blitzed 41 times, the second fewest. That’s the benefit of being able to rush with four consistently. The Seahawks aren’t sitting on their hands though. They have clearly tried to blitz. They’re not the Detroit Lions — who’ve blitzed fewer times than any other team (38) and yet have only 14 sacks and are creating no pressure.

Let’s look at individual numbers. Jadeveon Clowney has 17 pressures — the 27th most in the league. Quinton Jefferson has 12 and ranks at #50. There isn’t a single other Seahawks defensive lineman in the top-100. Rasheem Green is at #101 with seven pressures. Ziggy Ansah is at #134 with six — the same number as Carolina safety Eric Reid.

Clowney ranks at #16 for hurries with nine. Jefferson and Green have five and rank around the #50 mark. After that? The next highest is Ansah’s two hurries — good enough for #141 in the league and level with Danny Shelton.

The Seahawks are a one-man band as a pass-rushing unit. You almost feel sorry for Clowney. He’s statistically among the league leaders in pressures and hurries and has almost nothing to show for it because he’s so poorly supported.

Here’s something that might surprise you. The Seahawks have missed 54 tackles. That’s actually only middle of the road. It might not feel like it but Seattle is merely average at missing tackles when the eye test would suggest they’d be a lot worse. Mychal Kendricks has missed 15 tackles — the most in the NFL. That’s a quarter of his overall tackle attempts and the eighth highest missed tackle percentage. No other Seahawk ranks in the top-100 for missed tackle percentage. Clowney and Al Woods have missed 13% of their tackles and rank in the 130’s. Tre Flowers is fourth with 12.2% of missed tackles and McDougald has missed 11.4%.

The Seahawks have the third best turnover differential (+7) behind only New England (+17) and Pittsburgh (+11). Russell Wilson only throwing one interception has contributed a lot here. The Seahawks do rank joint 10th for interceptions though (7) and they’ve recovered nine fumbles (the second best number in the league). This is actually a positive because thanks largely to Chris Carson they’ve fumbled eight times — the third most in the NFL. It actually paints a picture that the Seahawks aren’t that bad at turning the ball over on defense. Presumably if the pass rush was better and they had more sacks and pressures, they might have even more takeaways.

Neither are the Seahawks statistically bad at defending passes. They have 39 PDEF’s so far — the ninth best record. Combine that with the turnovers and it’s quite revealing.

Bradley McDougald ranks eighth in the league for receiving yards per time targeted at only 3.8 yards. Shaquille Griffin is ranked at #41 and is giving up 5.2 yards per target. Mychal Kendricks, for all the hand-wringing over his role, is the 58th best defender in the entire league in terms of yards per target (5.8). That’s better than Landon Collins, Byron Jones, Tre’Davious White and Jaire Alexander.

Jamar Taylor is also ranked higher than Alexander at #90 with 6.4 yards per target. Tre Flowers is at #107 with 6.8 yards per target and K.J. Wright at #110 with 6.9 yards per target.

Overall, that’s a pretty good picture and it’s probably why Pete Carroll is sticking with his current plan. None of these players are being hammered in terms of yards per target. They have a top-10 defender in McDougald in this category and a top-50 player in Griffin. These stats say they’re not being exploited in coverage. They’re just not creating anywhere near enough pressure.

Also, McDougald has the third best completion percentage statistic at 36.8%. That’s better than any other safety. In comparison, Earl Thomas’ completion percentage is 50% — good enough for 25th in the league. Thomas has been targeted 14 times compared to McDougald’s 19 targets.

Again, the problem appears to be pressure and the pass rush. They’re giving up 7.5 yards per pass play — which is the fifth worst record in the league. And yet the defense has only conceded 11 passing touchdowns vs seven interceptions.

Seattle has also only conceded four +40 yard passing plays. That’s as many as San Francisco and only nine teams have fewer. They’ve given up 32 +20 yard passing plays though which is the eleventh highest. Quarterbacks have an 89.6 passer rating against the Seahawks which is only the 19th highest. You see the picture emerging here. Give the second-level defenders a bit more help and we might be surprised how they end up performing.

If the aim was to fix the run defense in 2019, it isn’t working. That is indicative again that the D-line is Seattle’s biggest problem. They’re giving up 4.7 YPC — the sixth most in the league. Strangely that’s the same mark as the New England Patriots and San Francisco 49ers and will offer some comfort for Seattle’s running game next week. The Seahawks have also given up 12 rushing touchdowns — the second most in the league behind only Carolina (14).

I hope this has helped shed some light on where the real issues lie. If you were wondering why they signed Josh Gordon and have reportedly looked at the possibility of adding Antonio Brown, this is why. The offense is propping up the defense. There aren’t any realistic options out there to improve the pass rush, especially with the trade deadline passing. They’re stuck with this unit and they know it. They also know how fully reliant they are on Russell Wilson. Adding weapons for him is all they can do at this stage.

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235 Responses to “What the numbers say about Seattle’s defense”

  1. Matt says:

    Great write up Rob. In light of what you talked about, this problem is not being solved in the draft – this team needs to aggressively utilize FA and trading draft capital to get established Pass Rushers. I don’t think a late R1 pass rusher is going to pop for 2-3 years; that’s too long to wait. RW is in his prime RIGHT NOW and this FO needs to act with urgency to address the DL.

    Again – this is where the bulk of FA money needs to go and that probably means handcuffing themselves in regards to resigning someone like Chris Carson – they really might have to spend another high pick on a RB in the upcoming draft and prepare for life after CC. This also means cutting Justin Britt to save $. Joey Hunt performed admirably and is significantly cheaper (as is Pocic).

    I’m not sure how this works, but I’m also approaching Bobby Wagner about restructuring his contract. This is by far the worst season of his career and I think he is smart enough and team oriented enough to maybe re-work somethings to get more support on the DL. I’m probably being naïve on that front, but it’s worth a conversation.

    My offseason plan includes aggressively going after 2 of the best DL available in FA. Top 3 picks would be OT, WR, and RB (again, emphasizing moving on from Carson when his rookie deal is up). The middle rounds I am targeting speed at the LB and DE positions.

    • Matt says:

      And just to clarify YES, top 3 picks go to the offense. That is your strength. It’s paramount to keep that side of the ball stocked and the hope is to manufacture an average defense via free agency.

      OT – Need to plan for life after Brown and Ifedi
      WR – Too rich of a draft to pass on a difference maker
      RB – Plan for life after Carson – Penny is a fine backup but I don’t see him being the right guy to be “the guy” in this system.

      • Bigten says:

        Could there be as many as 10 teams possibly looking for a QB this draft (obviously not all are going to take one early)? Would that push the likes of Fromm and Hurts into round 1 and have 5 plus QBs go 1 overall? Add in the depth of WR, half the 1/3 of the first could go to those two positions, really dropping some talent down the board.
        Also thinking about that, the chargers and lions could be a few of the teams in the market. Could you see the chargers being open to moving Bosa for a first this year and 1st next year? Would you see that as advantageous for us to do? What about the lions and Hockenson, would they be willing to part with him for a late first which would allow them to move up to grab a Qb to replace Stafford? Hock seems to be under utilized in their offense.

    • Rob Staton says:

      Completely agree. This will not be solved in the early rounds of the draft. It needs to be a concerted effort to find veterans to solve the crisis, plus probably re-signing Clowney (the only player currently doing anything).

      I said this last week and I still believe it — I could see them trading their R1 pick for a veteran defender too if the right move emerged.

      I would like to see them add some speed to the pass rush though — and that might come in the form of a draft pick at some point.

      • Matt says:

        Yep. I’d say that signing Clowney is absolutely the priority. He is a damn good player that will look like a bargain if he can get an ounce of help along the DL.

        Where are you at on Jarran Reed? I’m not sure I’m signing him at a premium price. Not sure how a tag and trade would work, but I think that’s probably my preferred outcome. I think J Reed is a nice player, but I think his big year last year was an aberration on the pass rushing front. Still not convicted on what to do with him.

        • Rob Staton says:

          I’m happy to give Reed more than three games to get going but at the moment he’ll be heading to free agency and it’s whether the Seahawks match whatever offer he gets.

          They’re not giving him the franchise tag though.

          • cha says:

            PC said pre-season that Reed’s suspension didn’t effect their evaluation of whether to sign him or not. But he didn’t say what that evaluation was. 😉

      • Elmer says:

        I have a question not directly related to the pass rush: Is Poona having a bad year?

      • Ashish says:

        Seattle should play Cody and BBK instead of Michael K close to 95%. I don’t like when PC blindly follow his plans. Both these players can provide speed and give breather to KJ / MK. They can also add Diggs as Nickel improving on 3rd down.
        As mention in article we are stuck with more or less same players but there are different options to improve defense.

        • Rob Staton says:

          Pete has referred to Kendricks as an extremely capable coverage linebacker and the stats here are backing that up. He’s in the role to be a hybrid LB who can do some of the duties of the nickel. The missed tackles are a problem but the real reason he’s in the team is working. And he’s leading the team in sacks.

          It’s often the instinct of fans to simply want the younger players to play when things aren’t working out. I’m happy to sit here and critique the defense. I see absolutely no benefit to benching Kendricks and starting Barton or BBK. Barton in his handful of snaps against Atlanta was a liability. He needs time. BBK was drafted first and foremost for special teams.

          Seattle’s problems are pass rushing problems. And they’re pretty much stuck until the off-season now. That’s why they’re signing Josh Gordon and looking into the Antonio Brown situation. They know Russell has to carry the defense.

          • Saxon says:

            Beautiful job painting an ugly picture, Rob. Your columns are a gift.

            I was hopeful that Reed’s interior pressure might free up the edges but, alas, no…

            Since our DL is sack challenged it would be nice to vary our blitz packages a bit. Bobby had a nice sack Sunday. I know it can be dangerous and leave holes in run and pass coverage, but as the secondary stabilizes with Blair and Diggs I expect Carroll to start sending random blitzers.

            I still think the D is going to make a jump. These first half numbers you’re citing will look better by the end of the year.

      • Duceyq says:

        Excellent write up! Any FA D-Linemen you think Seattle might target this offseason? Below radar and on radar ones that aren’t on the roster right now?

  2. Just a quick question. Do you think some of those numbers are skewed a little because of our soft zone we are playing? It seems like QB’s have an easy 5-8 yard completion all day long on an underneath route against this team, and the corners come up and tackle the receiver limiting the gain, but again giving it up all game long. I could be very wrong, but it seems like it is to easy for an easy completion against this team.

    To be fair though it seems liek everything on offense is easy for opposing teams, so there’s that as well.

    • Rob Staton says:

      I’ve no idea. But if your pass rush is totally inept it won’t matter what zone you play.

    • CD says:

      Agree, the D soft zone scheme is killing this team. Norton (really Pete) needs to go more man coverage. Right now QB’s are finding the holes in the zone (because they have all week and weeks of tape to study) before the DL can get home. These longer than needed drives due to a soft zone is talking away time for the Seahawks offense to put up more points. Please change Pete – unlikely.

    • Tony says:

      I heard quill say after the game that they switched to more man in 2nd half and that helped solve some issues. 2nd half d was better. Not really good, but better.

  3. Michael P Matherne says:

    This gives Clowney a lot of leverage this off season. I would really like to keep him, but the more desperate the ‘Hawks are to keep him the more he’s likely to cost them.

    • Rob Staton says:

      Then they’ll need to pay up. This is a big enough DL rebuild as it is without losing the only player on the DL actually doing anything.

    • cha says:

      Does it? Every team desperate for DL help will be looking at Clowney.

      I’d say any leverage is mitigated by playing for PC and with RW. Clowney specifically said he picked Seattle because he wanted a chance to play w RW.

      • Edgar says:

        Clowney is a smart guy and now a family man. You could also conclude that him wanting to come to Seattle and play with Russell would enhance his free agent money where ever he signs next season.

  4. Gohawks5151 says:

    It’s interesting to me that some people are down on Bobby. He is still top ten in every notable stat on PFF and is keeping that defensive unit from completely coming off the rails. An initial gloss over tells you that he may be slipping but if you look deeper he is playing a different game this year. The lack of trust at safety has forced the D into more cover 2 (As Ronde Barber keeps telling us..). This forces him to drop to the deep middle forcing him to cover seams and crossers and making his track on run reads and dump offs much longer. Not to mention the problems along the DL have not kept him clean on runs either. Even Ray Lewis struggled when they lost Sam Adams and Tony Siragusa. He is also still an elite blitzer. You can say that he was paid more and he should be able to handle all of this, and he has for the most part, but it is a lot to deal with when you can’t rely on some people around you. Good leadership goes a long way and i was glad to see his post game interview. I’m interested in what changes they may make, particularly after the bye week. Seattle had a propensity to to surprise like bracketing Diggs and Thielen last year or playing a little zone blitz at times last year.

    The D line problems are legit but I’m surprised they haven’t put a faster “nascar” package on the field. They are stubborn but barring a turnaround Ziggy to be phased out. Removing him, adding a nickel(Taylor or Diggs maybe), and lining up

    Shaquem—Clowney—Reed—Kendricks

    would put more speed on the field. At least run something like this out on 3rd and long situations.

  5. cha says:

    Rob is there anything in the numbers that help understand why Wagner isn’t having a good year? Is it simply the DL isn’t keeping him clean?

    Wagner was lined up to be the RW of the defense this year – yes they have flaws but they get lessened by a dynamic playmaker, and that just hasn’t happened.

    • Rob Staton says:

      The answer to Bobby’s form could be the D-line. No surprise his best two seasons were playing behind Sheldon Richardson in 2017 and an effective Jarran Reed in 2018.

  6. CWagner says:

    It’s a bummer. They really tried to beef up the D-line this past off season and so far Clowney is the only one showing up. Where’s Reed? Imagine what Clowney could do with more support from this line.

    On a side note, Blaire seems to have some big moves here and there. Do you think he’ll develop nicely?

  7. cha says:

    I wonder where the team feels Collier is in his development. He’s been inactive a couple times and had some really low snap count games. Like Sunday he had 6 snaps.

    I know he missed most of preseason but I would think the team would start mixing him in more in the second half of the season to see what they’ve got in him. Help them forecast their offseason a little more.

    I’m not suggesting they cut Ziggy loose but he had over 40 snaps and one tackle. I think splitting their snaps closer to 50/50 after the bye might be in order.

    • mishima says:

      Was just going to ask about Collier. Would like to see more Collier, Green, even Griffin; sure there is a good reason for their low snap counts, but nothing to lose.

      Ansah signing was/is a head scratcher, more evidence of Pete’s magical thinking. As long as PC is the ‘supreme surreal optimist’ or whatever, I think the FO continues to reclaim, resurrect, rehab busted players. Wondering if they’re just waiting for Calais Campbell to begin his slow, inevitable decline before trading for him… Would be too perfect.

      They’ve hit on a number of undervalued players (Lynch, Bennett, Avril), but those players obviously had something left in the tank. Credit to PC/JS for taking the risk, reeping the reward. Great moves. However, throwing money to patch the OL or DL or running game with Joeckels, Aboushis, Ansahs, Lacys is stupid. Signing/keeping busts like Mingo, Jordan, Gordon, et al. is more/same. They are done, washed. Just stop.

      They have the picks and cap room and a few trade-able assets to fix the problem. Will they be aggressive with the roster? Doubt it.

      • LAHawk says:

        I would love to see more Collier too… part of what’s holding him back is that he missed so much time in the preseason. I hope they work him in just as Blair has been worked in.

        Ansah is obviously a bust but I’m not too down on that deal. It was seen as a risk at the time, and though we gave him a decent amount of $$ it didn’t break our cap at all or cost us anything in terms of comp picks. It also wasn’t like there were other pass-rushers on the market who we could have acquired when we got Ansah—I’m glad they didn’t break the bank on Frank Clark, for instance, who looks inconsistent at best this year. They were in a terrible spot for pass rush at the outset of the offseason, and took a shot at improving it, I don’t blame ’em for that.

        • mishima says:

          They pinned their hopes (12 kumbayas + $10 million) on and aging/declining player coming off shoulder surgery.

          They signed Ansah, traded for Clowney, drafted Collier to fix the pass rush. Very similar to signing Joeckel, Aboushi, Lacy to fix the running game. We can’t know what else they tried, but if your final ‘fix’ depends on the best possible outcome, it’s probably going to fail.

          IMO, they need to get back to evaluating, identifying and taking risks on special players in draft and free agency. No coincidence that our 2 rookie successes had outlier traits (Blair, hitting/physicality; Metcalf, size/speed/physicality).

          • mishima says:

            Oof. To clarify: Not comparing Clowney (amazing/disruptive) and Collier (rookie/TBD) to JAGs, only pointing out that the FO ultimately didn’t do enough to address the anemic pass rush.

            • GerryG says:

              They acquired two former pro bowlers and invested a draft pick. Ansah was not very expensive, Clowney was obtained for peanuts, and they did what they could in the draft with what was left, unfortunately that guy got hurt preseason. It’s not like they had a ton of cap space to fix the problem. Unfortunately Ansah has nothing left, and/or doesn’t care anymore. Its not good enough, but considering the assets and cap space they had, they did what they could. Hindsight is always 20-20

              • mishima says:

                Clowney isn’t an edge/speed pass rusher, Ansah ($9m / $6m guaranteed) was coming off shoulder surgery and Collier was their only DL pick. It is what it is and it didn’t fix the pass rush.

                Hopefully, they address it this offseason.

      • CHawk Talker Eric says:

        If you have a crystal ball that tells you 100% who’s washed up and who has something left in the tank, you should really share it with Pete Carroll.

    • Eburgz says:

      I’d rather see more QJeff (when he’s healthy) and Green. Ansah and Collier have not flashed like those guys have to me.

    • Matt says:

      Was never a huge fan of the Collier pick (older limited athlete) but I don’t think he was drafted as a pure pass rush solution. He’s more of a base guy who could swing inside. I think he is complementary player who will be a 5-6 sack guy in his peak.

      His value lies in being a good base DE whilst providing an interior pass rush presence on passing downs. What he needs to succeed at that is more than Clowney. They need another edge presence. I think you can see Collier have success when the rest of the unit improves.

      Debate about his value in R1 is an entirely different conversation.

      • Gohawks5151 says:

        There was an interview with Jim Nagy recently where he was calling for patience with Collier and that it was a misconception that he was a replacement for Frank Clark. His skill set was a copy of Michael Bennett instead. From this description he is more akin to a guy who is going to kick inside on 3rd down and use his heavy hands to push the pocket as you have said. This flex type of position is hard to learn and it is going to take him a while. It is hard to get on the job training when the spotlight is on your position group.

  8. Kingdome1976 says:

    Excellent work Rob. Much appreciated and much needed insight.

    Fixing the D-line has to be priority number 1. I think we have to address the TE position in the draft and I think H. Bryant with one of our 2nd round picks makes sense to me at this point. Also I’m really coming around to the fact that this WR class could end up being the best we have ever seen, so how can we not dip into it with our first or one of our second picks?

    There goes 2 of our first 3 picks. The last one should go to the D-line. We really need Collier to pan out but I’m not seeing too much hope there yet. I know Terrell Lewis(Alabama) has had injury issues but to me he is exactly what we should consider because I believe he is literally the only player coming out that we might be able to get who can make an immediate impact rushing the passer. I know PC/JS don’t usually take players with significant injuries this early aside from maybe P. Richardson but I feel we should take the risk this next draft with Lewis.

    Free agency money simply has to go to players who can cause pressure at whatever position. C. Campbell or Yannick Ngakoue would be my first hope.

    Again, great stuff here Rob and I’m looking forward to here what others think about our future going forward.

  9. Donovan says:

    There’s a theory that whichever NFL team has the better QB & Coach combo will win 75-80% of the time. We’re pushing the boundaries of the theory with our present defense, but in Russ & Pete we trust!

  10. Sam L says:

    What do you think of Melvin Ingram as a possible trade target? He’s on the older side of 30 like Von Miller but will probably be cheaper than Von and the chargers will probably be looking for picks. Could we take a chance on Beasley? He’s a pretty good speed rusher that could compliment Clowney’s power. Whatever the case we can’t rely on one person, or even two for the pass rush. They need every single person on the d line to win a 1v1 at least some what consistently.

    • Rob Staton says:

      They’ve got to see what’s out there. They need some proven pass-rushing quality. Not a reclamation project. They’ve got to go out and add a big dog who can get to the QB.

  11. Trevor says:

    Nice writeup Rob and agree completely the DL must be priority #1 this off season.

    I would like to see them resign Clowney and target Chris Jones if KC do not franchise him (I assume they will however). Clowney and Jones are both still young. If you had Jones providing interior pressure and CLowney coming off the edge that would be nice start to fixing the pass rush. It would be a huge cap commitment but they can let some vets like Britt go to clear up even more cap space if needed and in todays NFL after QB having a pass rush seems to be requirement #2.

    Then maybe add a reclamation project as a speed rusher like Vic Beasley. He had an amazing year or two in a similar scheme and perhaps is worth taking at low risk flier on. Someone like Shaq Lawson might be another option.

    Another guy to consider might be Shaq Barrett who is having a breakout year at the perfect time and certainly looks the part this year. I guess teams just have to figure out if this is a flash or he is legit.

    I also like the idea of adding a draft pick like Klavon Chaisson on Day #2 as well.

    In general I would prefer they over pay a little for guys who are still young than try to get some deals on veterans who are north of 30.

  12. Sea Mode says:

    Agree completely and I’m glad that the numbers back up what my eyes told me already. Thanks for the effort of digging through the data.

    As I said yesterday: no secondary in the league can stop a QB who consistently has 4-5 seconds unhurried in the pocket.

  13. Sea Mode says:

    Understandable, I guess, but still rather convenient…

    Bob Condotta
    @bcondotta
    54s

    Carroll says he’s going to evade talking specifics about what have been the issues with the defense of late with the knowledge that there’s a big game coming Monday. But says it’s got to get better.

  14. Uncle Bob says:

    Rob, I get that you’re reluctant to zero in on criticizing the coaching staff for reasons you’ve stated, but I’ve been skeptical for some time, particularly though not singularly, of Norton. He has history. Good, maybe close to great, as a position coach, but has failed twice with two different teams to shine as a DC. He had the singular most disruptive D lineman in K. Mack and still got weak outcomes for the squad. But I don’t believe he’s alone (I’m purposely not zeroing in on PC since he’s shown he’s a winner as a head coach, but he does hold responsibility for hiring choices), as we seem to have trouble breaking down opponent schemes and countering. I don’t have visibility on who within the staff is responsible, but the outcomes are troubling. I’ll use the D line specifically, though the whole D unit is vulnerable, since that’s where this article focuses the most. For each D lineman difficulty there’s a corresponding O lineman performance to consider. Is it realistic that each week, considering the steady nature of the poor Hawk performances, we’re facing high level O line players? No, of course not, yet we’re getting outcomes that could imply that. As significant as player skill is, there’s also a tactical component to performance. Somehow it seems that whomever the coaches are that evaluate opponents for weaknesses to exploit, ours aren’t figuring it out. Or, is it that we’re too easy for the opponents to figure out how to overcome? Somehow our scheming is deficient, to which most fans would say something like, “well, it’s Pete’s scheme.” Which is true to a point, but the variations are up to the DC and position coaches, and the players and alignments for each play are theirs as well. Pete can’t, and shouldn’t, be doing that in game/real time. We’re stuck with what we’ve got coaching wise just as we are with players, so grin and bear it. But serious consideration should be given to coaching improvement just as we’ve discussed player choices for next season.

    • Kingdome1976 says:

      It doesn’t seem like coaching change talk is big hit around these here parts. I honestly think Pete just wants a DC/OC that will do what he wants with grace. Surely by now Pete and John could’ve had several coaches under them with crazy play schemes and such. Pete likes to run the ball first and make explosive plays second with some stuff in between on offense. On defense he wants to play 4-3 in zone coverage and stop the run primarily as well as not allow the big explosive plays.

      Now that I think about his philosophy on both sides of the ball it’s starting to make sense that he doesn’t want some young hot-shot bringing in new ideas.

      • john_s says:

        Somehow without a young hot-shot the offense is 3rd in PPG.

        As far as defensively, Pete’s DNA is defense and his way of playing defense. That will not change regardless who is the DC. It works, but you have to have the personnel to make it work. You look at San Fran, they brought over Robert Saleh to be d-coordinator who comes from PC/ Gus Bradley coaching tree. His defense was terrible until this year was able to spend another high draft pick on defensive linemen (Bosa) to add to the other 3 1st rd picks on the line, a stud MLB in Kwon Alexander and a recovering all pro CB in Sherman. Plus there’s a 1st and 2nd rd pick for safties and they spend a second round pick on a CB opposite Sherm (Akhello Wetherspoon)

    • Coleslaw says:

      I dont get the narrative that we aren’t gameplanning correctly..

      We played the Bucs exactly how we should have. They clearly knew it would be a shootout, they came out passing right away. Instead of acting like we were going to be able to slow them down, and try to make it a Time of Possession game, we realized that we had to be the passing team in order to win. They knew they couldn’t run well enough on TB, so they turned into a passing team this week.

      That’s 1 thing that we’re actually very good at this year, being a “chameleon” and rolling with the game plan that we can execute. We know our limits. That gives me a ton of faith for this offseason. The coaches clearly know what we have, they know what we need. I think Rob is 100% correct in why they’re being “stubborn” with the 3 LBs.

      • Uncle Bob says:

        In part you probably “don’t get” my commentary since you used the offense as a counter argument and my commentary was exclusively about the defense and its game planning. In a way you help make my point, as well as counter some of the other misinterpretations here, because as Schotty has gained Pete’s confidence, it appears he is close to having free reign in offensive scheming. We see very little of the RRP pattern that was criticized so much last season (justifiably criticized). I’d like someone who disagrees to show me how we’ve lost at the line of scrimmage repeatedly because we’ve repeatedly faced outstanding O lines rather than being weak at finding their weaknesses.

    • Rob Staton says:

      The difference is we can seriously analyse player performance. We have absolutely no idea what the coaches are saying, how involved they are, what decisions they make.

      Which is why it ends up being a never-ending, futile discussion.

    • Coleslaw says:

      Were doing what we can. Were blitzing at a high rate, and the back 7 is doing their part. It just isnt translating into a good defense.

      The D is what it is. Idk if I’d be complaining about the gameplanning when the back 7 is doing so well for having such a bad DL. IDK what changes you have in mind, but to me it seems we are doing all we can on defense.

      You could also look at it as we know our D is bad, so maybe they’re being more aggressive to create turnovers. Maybe we cant have a top D but we can generate turnovers. Thats gameplanning. I’m impressed with our coaching on both sides of the ball.

  15. Coleslaw says:

    Wouldve been 10 TDs and 8 INTS if Blair was 1 inch closer on that tipped TD yesterday. Likely a pick 6. Secondary has improved big time since the CBs and McDougalds early struggles and the addition of Blair.

    Reed’s play has been disappointing so far. Idk if he’ll be worth the contract hell get.. Good thing is we might have a lot of $ for DL if we let Reed and Ansah walk but nobody to pay. Ngakoue is #1 on my list, after that, idk if anyone in FA will be able to help.

    IMO we should pay up for Ngakoue, let Ansah walk. Draft another edge rusher in the 1st and either keep Reed or draft a DT early too.

    I like the idea of Ngakoue, Reed and a R1 edge rusher. I’d like to see us add a SAM/LEO later on who could be depth for Ngakoue.

    1 possiblity that really intrigues me is Ngakoue, Reed, and 1 of the DTs in the first like Raekwon Davis. Either way I’m almost 100% certain DL will be our top pick. With how the rest of the roster is playing, maybe it wouldnt be a bad time to trade up for a blue chip edge rusher and sign a guy like Ngakoue. Dont know who it could be, though.

    • Kingdome1976 says:

      Yeah, this really doesn’t seem like the draft to go up and get a blue chip edge rusher….because aside from Chase Young I really don’t see one. I do think Terrell Lewis should be considered though.

      Ngakoue is likewise my first choice if we are able get him. Campbell is my second.

      We truly need to sign Clowney to a long term deal but no more than 18 million per. Reed at this point anyway doesn’t seem like a player I would want to pay more than 12 mil per.

      Collier needs more time obviously and for some reason I feel like he needs to lose about 10 pounds to see his real potential.

      I know Carson will some more heat because of the fumbles yesterday but can you honestly see this offense without him? He needs to get paid like the stud/workhorse he is.

      Dissly is my major concern right now because I know we will make a splash in free agency to get our pass rush fixed. Is there any really good all around TE’s in the draft? Are there any TE’s in free agency next year? Sad to say but I’m not sure we can bank on Dissly anymore.

    • Rob Staton says:

      You might want to adjust that ‘100%’ considering the top DL’s in this weak class will be gone by Seattle’s pick.

  16. Ben says:

    I still want to see more youth at LB. It’d be great to see BBK and Barton on either side of Bobby. If the pass rush isn’t coming from the LB, we need better speed and tackling. No pass rush and old linebackers is an awful mix. While experience matters and maybe they aren’t ready, but if they are it’d go a long ways to helping this defense.

    • Rob Staton says:

      Barton had a really rough outing in the snaps he had against Atlanta. People might not like it but based on that evidence he’d be a major downgrade from KJ and Kendricks.

      • Ben says:

        He also played a total of 5 snaps, so it’s not exactly a large body of evidence. There would be plenty of growing pains, but linebacker is one of the easiest positions for rookies to transition. Both Barton and BBK played well in preseason and Barton in particular got rave reviews in training camp.

        I get it’s hard to unseat vets, but Blair brought something extra to the D, and I feel Barton could too. Un-explosive linebackers kill a defense. He may not be ready but again, best case scenario for the defense is that Barton is. He showed coverage skills in college, ability to blitz, and he’s got enough speed. Just hope he keeps getting chances to play.

        • Rob Staton says:

          Aside from whether Barton would struggle or not (I think he struggled in pre-season too) — I just don’t see KJ and Kendricks as the issue some fans do. I really think too many people are getting caught up on the base defense thing and the LB’s and for some reason are ignoring the lack of pass rush.

        • Brashmouse says:

          I agree with Rob, Throughout the preseason and in the regular season I have seen Barton and BBK give 3-4 YAC on their tackles on top of the rookie drop in situational awareness you get going from KJ to Barton or BBK. The YAC issue really scares me going forward as the Seahawks look to the next generation.

  17. Kingdome1976 says:

    A bit off the cuff here but what about Brandon Scherff? Isn’t he supposed to be one
    of the best run blocking guard in football? Seems like a perfect fit to me but at what cost?

  18. LouieLouie says:

    That the Seahawks need improvement on the D-Line is self evident, but I’m not sure that they need to leverage the franchise for a couple of pass rushers.

    • GerryG says:

      Nobody is advising leveraging the franchise to obtain pass rush, but it is something that needs to be addressed week 1 of 2020. With the high level of play of RW and the offense, you have to field a D that can be league average, and affect the QB. If you cant draft that guy in the 20’s (in a draft low on pass rush) then you have to find a way to fix it elsewhere. A trade, FA signing. Look at the value the Bucs got signing Shaq Barrett.

      • LouieLouie says:

        I have hope that this D-Line can improve. They started the year without Jarran Reed. Clowney and Ansah had little or no time to fit into a system (although Ansah isn’t playing very well), and the coaching staff had no preseason to work with them. Collier, Green, Ford and Jefferson all have upside.

        I know that Rob doesn’t think that Ken Norton is to blame, but I’m not so sure that he (and the defensive coaching staff including Carroll) shouldn’t shoulder some (or even the lion’s share) of the blame. It isn’t just one on one match-ups that make an effective D-line. Sound game-plans and during the game adjustments also effect the D-Line.

        • Rob Staton says:

          I didn’t say that I don’t think Ken Norton is to blame. I said, quite rightly, that this is Pete’s defense and he has complete ownership of it. I’ve also pointed out that none of us know what Norton is doing behind the scenes, or saying, or adjusting. Blaming a coordinator, particularly a defensive coordinator, when the Head Coach is a defensive coach, is basically running with a hunch. And for me it becomes a repetitive and futile debate that never ends because we all just end up scapegoating one man.

          • LouieLouie says:

            Rob:
            I think it does matter who the DC is. In the past, Carroll has hired young DCs to run his system. They were innovative and bold. Norton is not “young,” and is a system guy who has been in Carroll’s system for most of his coaching life. Maybe he lacks that innovation and boldness that the other (younger) DCs who ran Carroll’s defense had.

            What has been striking is the lack of halftime adjustments. That was a major characteristic of Carroll’s past defenses. They don’t seem to be fooling anyone, even mediocre offenses.

            • Rob Staton says:

              Your facts are wrong I’m afraid.

              Gus Bradley — 53 years old
              Dan Quinn — 49 years old
              Ken Norton Jr — 53 years old

              Maybe just have a look on wikipedia next time.

              • LouieLouie says:

                Rob:
                Simply cut out the “younger” and my points still ring true. Bradly and Quin were still new to the Pete Carroll system. They were innovative and bold. Bradly mixed up 4-3 and 3-4 looks, and at first he didn’t have much better personnel than at present, and he didn’t have the offense as they do now. He got a head coaching job because he was innovative and bold, not because he did what he was told.

                At halftime, both coaches always had answers to what the other offense was. This season it is the OCs who are making the adjustments.

                • Rob Staton says:

                  Bradley didn’t mix up 3-4 looks. Pete Carroll runs a 4-3 under and simply found a role for Red Bryant.

                  There’s so much revisionist history going on here just to have a go at Norton. And the point about the ages is more that a mere fluff on your behalf. It showed you hadn’t seriously looked into this.

        • GerryG says:

          I was patient with Ansah for the first half of the year. But, he just looks slow, no explosion, and minimal to no moves. When I get a chance to really watch him on pass rush attempts, he just bull rushes into the Tackle and is easily contained.

          I agree with Rob, it is kind of hard to know who is doing what with the coaches. We knew from day 1 this season was going to be really lean on DL talent, and that is what is playing out. Pete seems to be the guy that is all in on running base D, and my simple non-film trained eye has said all year this isnt working. Then we hear M Schlereth explain why on the B&S Pod last week that Rob posted, and I actually hear an informed opinion on why base D is not working for pass rush. Now, we also dont know if they really want to be in base D, or are just forced to “get the best 11 on the field”. There is no good NB, but I also dont think KJ at this stage of his career is who you want out there dropping into coverage, nor has Wagz looked great in coverage.

          • mishima says:

            Looks like a man ready to take his $10 million from the Hawks and retire.

            • Robeetle12 says:

              The way Ansah is playing I don’t see why they can’t get Collier more than 6 snaps or quit making him a healthy scratch. Same goes for the young LB’s….Coming from college to the NFL is a big jump and some positions require playing time to make the adjustment.

              When you have a young team you need to get the players in there to gain experience. I’m a professional musician who gained my confidence on stage, not by practicing endless hours.

              • Rob Staton says:

                And yet many players benefit from not starting as a rookie.

                • Robeetle12 says:

                  D-Line and WR are 2 definite positions that do benefit from playing. Especially DE unless they are super incredible athletes. Collier isn’t but he has good qualities that need experience, it’s just my opinion, but hey, keep playing Ansah and getting nothing in return, then next year hope for Collier when he basically watched for a year?…I dunno.

  19. Kingdome1976 says:

    Would it be improper to give a shout-out to Tyler Lockett? I mean how awesome is this guy really?

    He is our receiver room leader and quickly becoming my favorite Seahawk ever behind Russ. You are still in my heart Doug.

  20. Paul Cook says:

    Great statistical survey of our defensive dilemma. I immediately think of two things as thoughts of our off-season approaches…

    1) Our draft capital
    2) Our CAP

    These two things are obviously interrelated. It remains to be seen if we’ll be adding to our draft capital via compensation picks. What players will we not resign and/or cut and how much CAP room will that add to our arsenal? Ansah and KJ seem likely targets for not resigning or cutting. Britt and Reed seem on the fence in that regard as well. Clowney, it seems to me, is a high priority resigning, but if we don’t, certainly a compensation pick is headed our way.

    After these players, I can’t think of another player who will provide much noticeable CAP relief/flexibility. And I don’t know how much the CAP will go up, or what resignings will offset any CAP relief we obtain from letting any of the above players go.

    But like Rob and others have said, it sure seems like a significant percentage of our CAP space is going toward the DL this off-season. If so, and we’re successful in this way, then it seems like a BAP draft for us with a *slight* lean toward OL, WR, TE.

    I don’t know, just rehashing everyone else’s thoughts.

    • Sea Mode says:

      We will also get the 10% of our cap which is currently tied up in dead money back next year just for Kam (5.18%), Doug (3.2%), Malik (0.81%), and Mingo (0.56%) coming off the books. That’s $19.2m that is not invested in on-field talent this season. Enough to pay Clowney right there, if we want to look at it that way.

      Of course, I’m sure we will generate some new dead money with other cuts, but probably not even close to a quarter of that when all is said and done. Early retirements suck for our cap…

    • rowlandice says:

      I thought we promised Clowney we wouldn’t put the tag on him? No compensation pick if he leaves.

      • mishima says:

        If you franchise tag (non-exclusive) a player, the only way they leave is if you trade them. If they don’t tag him and he leaves as a free agent, his loss factors into, but does not guarantee (net free agent loss/gain, etc.) whether the Seahawks are awarded compensatory picks.

        Might be wrong.

      • GerryG says:

        They absolutely get a comp pick for Clowney if he leaves, assuming they have a net loss in free agents, ie lose more than they sign. Has nothing to do with the Tag, which they did promise not to use.

  21. mishima says:

    Rob,

    Should these numbers be taken with a grain of salt because we’ve played some pretty bad teams/QBs? Are we worse than our numbers?

  22. WALL UP says:

    Chemistry plays an important role in how well the team plays. The WR combo of DK & No E with Russ has displayed remarkable chemistry on the offensive side of the ball. It’s obvious that the defense has yet to achieve the needed chemistry to affect the pass rush of the QB. To develop this, it just takes time.

    This is the 2nd game that Clowney/Reed/Ansah has played together. QJeff has an injury that has limited his ability to mesh with the rush group. After a few games after the bye, I can see an increased amount of pressures with this group. Will it be good enough for them to contend for the division? This will unfold in the 49er’s match up next Monday. The key to that game will be stopping the run that SF deploys.

    Ford gives their center Richburg fits. If he can make the grown man cry again, and disrupt the middle with his penetrations, the advantage might go to the Hawks, in the run game.

    The hope against SF’s passing game, is that the Hawks play more nickle, with the additions of Diggs & Ugo. They’ll need more speed than KJ for the crossing routes from Goodwin & Sanders. Blair & McDougald should match up well against TEs Kettle or Dwelley.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if this game is a lot closer than many people think. The Hawks ran the ball well against the best run Def in the league, in the Bucs. They can do the same against SF’s front four, which is, more so susceptible against the run, especially with the loss of Alexander. Hey, the Hawks may even come out with a “W”, after it’s all said and done. We’ll see.

  23. no frickin clue says:

    Along with a lack of pressure from front 4, it seems to me like KJ Wright and Kendricks are each just a step or two slow. Not sure what the answer is there.

    I suppose we could always sub in a faster safety/nickel corner, in lieu of a 3rd linebacker, but what we have available on the roster at those positions is less experienced (or, in the case of Diggs, lacking experience in this particular defense).

    If the argument is that they want to stop the run first, and so we want more big bodies in the front 7, it doesn’t seem to be working. If the argument is that even if they’re slow, at least they know the defense, so it’ll prevent a big play, that also doesn’t seem to be working.

    Alternatively – either we really are putting out our best 11 on D (which is not a great testimonial to recent drafting on D), or, Pete is diverging from ‘Always Compete’ on D. Or simply delegating to Norton who isn’t willing to try something new.

  24. Kingdome1976 says:

    It seems to me that aside from flowers getting picked on all the time I still feel pretty comfortable with our middle and back end on defense. If we seriously upgrade our pass rush I think all things defense will be just fine.

    Get one of these stud WR’s in the first or second and don’t look back. Maybe we should invest in an O-lineman as well early.

    It’s early but is Reed really worth the price to keep him? Clowney, even though the sacks aren’t coming frequently has been pretty disruptive and if we say picked up C. Campbell to put next to him I think we all know how awesome that would be. Ansah looks like crap. We need a book end to Clowney no matter what. What about that Barrett guy from Tampa Bay?

    • Hughz says:

      Reed is not going to get a big contact the way he’s currently playing. I’m thinking the hawks will either be able to extend him if they really want to keep him. My guess is somewhere around 22 million for 3 years.

  25. RWIII says:

    Every team has weaknesses. Just look at New England. Yesterday the Number #1 rank team in the N.F.L. lost 37-20. So yes. Seattle has major problems on defense. But the bottomline is they are 7-2. I understand that their meat of the schedule starts next Monday night against San Francisco. Then they play at Philadelphia, they also have road games against the Rams and Carolina not mention playing San Francisco at home again. Yes they will be tested. But you play one game at a time.

    One other point. In the off season they Hawks drafted C.J. Collier. They also signed Ziggy, Clowney, and Al Woods as free agents. So it is not like they neglected the defensive line. Can’t help it the Ziggy has been a major disappoint. And the linebackers have not played at the level everyone thought they would. Also Frank Clark who the Hawks traded away has not been a ball of fire either. Clark only has 3 sacks.

    Like I said. EVERY team has weaknesses.

    • Rob Staton says:

      Being terrible on defense is more than a weakness.

      Bad RB depth is a weakness.

      Having a player you could easily upgrade is a weakness.

      When your defense is terrible it’s a lot more serious.

    • mishima says:

      True: Every team has weaknesses.

      However, in an evolving NFL, which is trending toward dynamic offenses and QBs/RBs, lack of defensive speed/pressure is more than a weakness. It’s a non-starter; you’re not going anywhere. Might as well pray for snow against those teams.

      The Seahawks’ D might stand for ‘dinosaur.’

  26. Kip Earlywine says:

    Excellent article Rob. Sometimes it’s nice when there is a treasure trove of data to back up conclusions that should be obvious to the eye test.

  27. amanuel abraham says:

    Rob, what do you think of the hawks looking to take fliers on that ’16 d-line class that had some decent hype that’ll be ufa’s this off-season? Jonathan Bullard and Noah Spence first came to my mind.

  28. Coleslaw says:

    Uncle Bob, looking back at our games. How can we gameplan for our opponents weakness when were playing teams who create problems like the Ravens with Lamar, Bucs with 2 great receivers, Saints with a mastermind HC, etc.

    We gameplanned against Matt Schaub and couldn’t get pressure, their receivers are good too, yet we still forced the kendricks INT with gameplanning. We shut down the Bengals running game and forced Dalton to throw, but without pressure, he torched us too.

    The only game I could see a gameplan gripe with is Pittsburgh.

    It’s hard to gameplan around a bad DL. DL is where it all starts. Without that, everything can go out the window pretty quick. The fact they’re still creating turnovers and performing in the back 7 is indicative of good gameplanning working around OUR weaknesses.

    And thats the thing, our D isnt good enough to worry about opponents weaknesses. We have to figure out how to not beat ourselves first.

    • Coleslaw says:

      So basically we have to look at how we gameplan knowing we somehow have to try to work around the DL. Changes things quite a bit.

    • Uncle Bob says:

      Rob has made it clear he doesn’t have much interest in this type of discussion, and it’s his house, but I appreciate that you have interest. We debate the quality level of the players ALL the time, and to a degree that’s comparatively easy (which is not the same as accurate) because what they do is on view publicly. Debating the quality level of the coaching is less reliable since what they do is not on public display directly………………..however, what they do and the quality of what they do is on display in the outcomes of the team performance. Some folks can spot outstanding athletic ability more readily than others, it’s a skill. Likewise, some folks can spot competency of the less tangible abilities of individuals (hiring employees in a business is where this is particularly useful) which is also a skill though of a different stripe. They are not the same skillsets, though each is desirable and highly useful in it’s own way. One of the most aggravating, though honest, observations in football is just how effective Belichick is as a coach. And, though some blithely say, “well, just do what he does and ………………..”. Easier said than done, it’s a gift/skill not distributed among humans equally. If we can acknowledge that his abilities are outstanding, while difficult to replicate, then there should be no argument that coaching matters. He historically takes guys who appeared to be under performers on other teams and “miraculously” gets high performance out of them (obviously not 100 percent of the time, they are human, but better than others in a similar job). Your point above seems to be something along the lines of “our coaches are doing their best in scheming and it’s working.” I don’t have any doubt they’re doing the best they know how, and they do get some positive outcomes in relative terms. I’ve referred to them as good not great. But, to take the skill level of player we have, for the most part, and get championship performance out of them takes better skill than just “good”. There are close to 170 million males in the US, only 1700 of them have the athletic ability to be selected to a 53 man pro football squad. They’re all elite athletes of a certain level, but they work in a relative world where some elites are more elite than others. Highly successful/skilled coaches can and do squeeze that little more extra from these guys, and the most successful at that are the ones who repeat at being champions. It’s not enough to “do your best”, it takes a higher level of skill relative to your competitors to be the victor. I’ll go cultural on you here; in the words of Master Yoda, “There is no try………there is only do or do not.”

      • Coleslaw says:

        I totally understand and respect your logic, but not everyone can be Belicheck. Hes the GOAT for an EXTREMELY good reason. Nobody knows how he does it. That’s not our coaches fault, though. They’re doing what they can, relatively, yes. But they are doing what they can with what they have.

        If the answer were to just hire a coach like Belicheck, I’d say “Hell yeah, let’s do it!” But that’s not realistic. The truth is PC is an outstanding HC, defensive minded at that. He’s shown that hes trying to do the logical (correct) thing by blitzing more. Hes just got a bad roster on the DL, theres nothing the coaches can do about that.

        I dont think Belicheck would make this defense any better than it is now. Remember, even Belicheck has had terrible defenses before. However, he knows it. He knows he has to win with offense, and loaded up on offense, that’s given Brady 3 Super Bowls using that logic. PC is using the same logic.

        The simple truth is that when you have a top offense and a bad defense, sometimes it’s better to just bank on being aggressive on D and forcing turnovers and trusting your Offense to score points. Than it is to try to make your defense into something it isnt and be a terrible D with NO turnovers.

        To me, the D could play more conservatively, but it would just lessen their turnovers, they would be just as bad overall. Do you think we’d be 7-2 without the turnovers we’ve had? I sure dont.

      • Largent80 says:

        Uncle Bob, there is a button on your keyboard called ENTER. You might want to create paragraphs by using it.

  29. Murphy says:

    Thanks again for an excellent article Rob. I have been thinking a lot about this over the last couple days. I don’t have the in depth knowledge as some here, so take any names I throw out as representations rather than predictions. I think the issue circles back to Rob’s article a few weeks ago regarding our lack of BAMFs. When it comes to our secondary there is hope. I trust Carroll to get them where they need to be. He has a Blaire the perfect piece to mold into his system. A willing hitter with the potential to make opposing receivers fearful. At CB, Griffin is coming into his own and Flowers is still developing (remember he is a year behind Griffin and will hopefully take that year 3 jump). At LB, we have depth. It may not be playing up to its potential but there is quality and depth.

    Obviously, as Rob pointed out, that leaves the DL. When I look at it (with my admittedly untrained eye) the only pure physical trait we are missing is speed on the outside. We need to address that but I think there is a more glaring issue. I fight competitively and watch a lot of fighting. You can tell the difference between fighter’s who want to win and those who expect to win. There is a difference. Right now we have some physically gifted players that want/hope to win a few snaps a game (Paraphrasing Rob: They’d celebrate an interception when down by 20). We need a proven veteran, someone who isn’t happy when he wins but angry when he doesn’t. Someone who sets a standard (a BAMF in the Chancellor mold). I think a player like that could improve our DL exponentially. Maybe they ‘only’ add 10-12 sacks. But the effect that attitude will have on the other players could be huge. I watch this D and the players seem almost surprised when something good happens. Rather than expecting it. That to me is the biggest thing that needs to change. If Clowney gets a sack, I want Green pissed. I want to see him singularly focused to get to the QB the next drive.

    To me the name that most screams what I am talking about is Calais Campbell (again just a representation). He doesn’t solve our speed on the outside problem (maybe someone like Von Miller) but the attitude. The experience. When I watch him, there is no hope. There is the confidence that comes with the knowledge that he will win.

  30. Rob Staton says:

    TCU’s Jalen Reagor is a top-20 talent.

    The more and more I’ve watched of him, the more impressed I’ve been.

    Top, top talent.

  31. Valentts says:

    DL is a major disappointment this season, just imagine if we don’t get Clowney and resign Quinton Jefferson. Quinton would be another priority in FA next year, what’s his price though? I thought $8-10M APY would be reasonable. Al Woods is another overachieving veteran DT (Kevin Williams, Rubin, etc.), but this kind of experiment usually doesn’t end well in year 2 of PCJS era. A overhaul will definitely happen.

  32. Tony says:

    Pete the most optimist of the optimist I believe looked at the last 2 games and saw 2 teams we should beat and tried some slight changes. Blitzes mostly and put Blair in. Also I’ve seen Barton mixed in on some plays. Collier too. Now I’m not saying he looked past but he added some young guys to play against weaker teams. Hes always been gentle with his young guys early on. Especially on defense.

    I fully believe he will come out with some big surprises for this niner game. He has stand pat many times with decent to really good defenses cause the results were usually better overall. Except for those couple years prior to LOB. Remember the bandit package? I really believe a month ago he circled this game. Monday night vs leading division rival midseason. This is the time he starts his yearly march to the playoffs.

    This is Pete Carroll. The ever trust his guys, put faith in player coach. Hell Myers showed that last week. But if theres ever a game in this schedule that perfectly places the best time to catch everyone off guard with some different playcalling or schematic alteration, this is it. Maybe quem? Maybe a 3 safety package? This is the game they do it. Catch the niners off guard.

    • Doug says:

      I agree that Pete may have been saving some schemes for the back half of the season loaded with divisional games. Blair is going to keep getting better with experience. I heard Bobby’s comment about “discipline” and “communication” after the Tampa game–could be that some breakdowns in coverage/assignments have been responsible for some of the chunk plays. After the bye I expect a big jump in the performance of the D overall.

      The NFC west is up for grabs and within reach for the Seahawks if they win MNF. It is going to be a very interesting test!

  33. charlietheunicorn says:

    If you can’t hold them down (points allowed), you got to beat them down (points created)

    Not ideal, but could lead to some entertaining games down the last games of the regular season and in the playoffs. There is no team that Seattle should fear in the NFC. Almost everyone has some weaknesses. I would say the Saints might be the only “lock” for going far in the playoffs on the NFC side. No way would I trust the 49ers offense, though the defense appears to be gelling.

  34. charlietheunicorn says:

    So who would be available for a 1st round pick (defender specific) that could upgrade or take the DL to another level? Dare I say someone like K. Mack or Von Miller? Or should we be looking for not as great of riches, provided they can secure Clowney to a long term deal…. of course.

    I guess it would have to be a guy on one of the really bad teams, looking for draft capitol to trade up to get a QB… in round #1. I most likely have to trade for a guy and also draft a guy somewhere along the way… and probably pick up at least one FA to round out a new DL.

  35. CHawk Talker Eric says:

    Refs ruined MNF this week. Just horrible one sided calling. And I don’t really care about either team.

  36. CHawk Talker Eric says:

    Really interesting potential development for the NFL in London. Los Angeles doesn’t need two NFL teams. I’d be excited for this.

    London has done everything possible to show the #NFL it’s prepared to be the permanent home for a team. The league, and the Los Angeles #Chargers, are willing to consider the U.K. as a viable new home. My exclusive for ⁦@TheAthletichttps://t.co/rHiF2zavIb— Vincent Bonsignore (@VinnyBonsignore) November 5, 2019

  37. Jopa726 says:

    Rob, The London Chargers could it happen? It is being reported that the NFL is considering moving the Chargers to London. I guess all those Chargers game filled with the visiting team’s fans is a bad look for the league. Plus, I’ll bet that the Chargers TV ratings are poor in the local LA area.

    https://mobile.twitter.com/thebiglead/status/1191563494413328384

    • evan says:

      would make more sense to move them back to San Diego

      • CHawk Talker Eric says:

        Not really. They weren’t well supported in San Diego. Sure they had a fan base, but not big enough to be sustainable in that tertiary market. Most home games at Qualcomm the visiting team had more fans than they did. I agree they’re sort of wasted in Los Angeles, but returning to San Diego would be worse for the franchise.

        Moving to London makes a lot of sense for the League, and for a team without a real home base right now. I hope they do it.

        • evan says:

          They weren’t well supported because their stadium was a dump, and their owner pooped in the punchbowl. San Diego is the second biggest city in California. get them a new owner and a new stadium and they’ll do fine.

          • CHawk Talker Eric says:

            Sure, just build a half a billion dollar new stadium no problem. And while you’re at it, just force Alex Spanos to sell his team. Maybe if you ask “pretty please” he’d be totally willing to do that 🙄

            If you don’t live in SoCal, it’s understandable if you’re not familiar with the Chargers’ long running attempt to get a new stadium, but they tried for many years and the people of San Diego refused, repeatedly. Spanos didn’t just wake up one day and decide to move his team from their home of nearly 50 years to a neighboring market that already had a team.

            Also, urban area is a more useful and accurate indicator of an NFL market than just a city, especially in California. By that metric, San Diego is the smallest of the 3 major metroplexes (LA, SF, SD). They’re just not a football community. Hell, even LA isn’t that much of an NFL city compared to other markets.

    • Rob Staton says:

      I have major reservations about this. The team would be well supported because we love the NFL over here. But how it works logistically for the league. I just can’t imagine eight ‘home’ games in London.

      • cha says:

        Off the cuff take with no thought whatsoever.

        Do it. Let the E Coast teams whine about their travel miles. Poor baby boo boo…no longer have a 6 week stretch where you only travel 150 miles from home? Seattle says hi.

  38. Stevo says:

    There’s only one possible hope for this D line.

    Its time to give Josh Gordon a bottle of ‘roids and see if he can rush the passer.

  39. poweroflogic says:

    Seattle’s defensive line is deeply, deeply troubling and arguably the foundation of the majority of the defense’s woes. Carroll at least seems to think so and I believe he’s right.

    It’s not that they didn’t try build a credible line. The talent and promise just has not manifested. This despite high draft picks spent on Green and Collier (both well liked here) and moves to acquire Ansah (who was literally a pass pressure leader right up until his last game in Detroit) and Clowney (always disruptive, if never realizing his potential as a rusher). They clearly also hoped Reid would return from suspension with at least some, if not all, of the 2018 magic.

    Sure, Frank Clark was a much more proven pass rusher than any of these potentials, but it was understandible why the front office did what they did given the DE market going through the ceiling and the trade offer they received. They ‘gambled’, with reasoanble odds having done their due diligence, but nevertheless may have lost big – that is at least the mid-season outlook, but I keep a bit of hope for better moving forward.

    As of now, what appears to have come to pass is the fairly unlikely scenario that each and every one of the above hopefuls has fallen short of expectations. Green has not broken out and Collier is not ready. Ansah is either not fully recovered / physically limited (more likely in my view) or has suddenly fallen off some unexpected age/skill cliff – either way he’s done very little so far. Clowney has generated excitement among fans but in reality is pretty much what we knew him to be: a disruptive uber athlete, a great penetrating run defender, but an absolutely middling pass rusher. PFF actually has Clowney ranked #58 among DEs with 20%+ snaps. No way at this rate will Seattle bite on what was reported to be his contract expectations in Houston, to join the $20m Dlaw+ club. As for Reid, I would like to be generous/optimistic and give him another game or two to get his footing, but he has generated a single (1) pressure thus far on 100 snaps. Alarming.

    The one who has surprised somewhat is Jefferson, who currently leads the Seahawk defensive linemen in pressure rate (yes, better than Clowney), tackles and even run stop% (per PFF). It wouldn’t shock me if he were the only one extended of the bunch, given his versatility and (possibly) more modest market / expectations compared with (20m or bust) Clowney and Reid (what did his agent say last year?: “less than 18m, don’t even call”).

    I have a faint hope that Jefferson’s return and some improvement in any one of the other pieces above will result in some tangible improvement in DL pressure rate and lessen the need to rely on blitzes – which by the way have been a fairly effective compensatory stopgap that has kept the Seahawks’ competitive on third downs. At least up until last Sunday, which was particularly concerning.

    If nothing progresses, the Seahawks will have a crapton of money and picks to allocate to fixing the problem next offseason and no way will they fritter away vast sums on any of the current line and, fan excitement notwithstanding, that includes 2-sack Clowney who couldn’t excel pass rushing even beside JJ Watt and more in Houston.

    • CHawk Talker Eric says:

      I don’t see the Clark trade as a zero sum transaction where SEA are the loser because they haven’t been able to replace his pass rush production. They do miss him, but definitely not his $20m apy salary. I think giving that much to what is basically a one-trick player would’ve been more detrimental to the team in the long run.

      Also, I’m pretty sure they’ll extend Clowney, even if they end up paying him about what they would’ve had to pay Clark to keep him. Clowney may not be able to replace all of Clark’s sack production, but then he’s been a one man show this year, so who’s to say what he’s capable of in that regard? And for me, Clowney’s worth more to SEA’s scheme than Clark, who wasn’t much of a run defender. Clowney is a true 4 down DE, not just a pass rush specialist.

      It’s too bad they couldn’t have kept Jacob Martin. Would’ve liked to watch him play with Clowney.

      • poweroflogic says:

        I actually agree with you about the Clark trade, especially in terms of the value they extracted from the transaction.

        Looking beyond the confines of the transaction, however, it was a kind an educated gamble that they could reconstitute the defensive line. Pretty reasonable when think about it and extrapolate from the proven performance and likely potential of the different pieces they assembled. By no means did every piece have to work out but unfortunately, up until now, essentially none have in terms of producing meaningful pass rush. Altogether they are still scraping by — obviously so given the 7-2 record — with various tricks and stopgaps.

        But no, I don’t agree about Clowney and if you refer to the numbers I linked below, it is simply not true that he has been either very effective as a pass rusher or a ‘one man show’, for the mere fact that Jefferson has suprisingly exceeded his pass rushing performance and been excellent against the run as well. At most, you could say we have a two man show or (possibly more accurately) no man show this year. It certainly was a no man show last Sunday, and Clowney was every bit a part of it, not registering a single sack, hit or hurry.

        No way this front office pays Clowney 20m+ at his current rate of production. You simply don’t pay that to even a ‘true 4 down DE’ that is not a blue chip pass rusher. I actually hope they do manage to extend Clowney and/or Jefferson, as versatile ‘complementary’ pieces paid accordingly, while seeking out a true premier pass rusher which is unfortunately pretty essential in the new normal of 60%+ passing rates.

        But I suspect in Clowney’s case that, just as in Houston, the gap between salary expectations and proven performance will produce another impasse. So either Clowney will need to severely downgrade his expectations (unlikely) or the Seahawks will invite him to test the market, as they have done with Bennett and others in the past.

        I don’t know how OverTheCap does their ‘market valuations’ for players but currently they give Clowney a value of 11.5m(!!). I suspect he would be worth more than that to the Hawks, but not much, much more. If there is a desperate, dysfunctional team out there looking to bet a 20m APY/100m contract on someone who has never once exceeded middle tier pass rushing on any meaningful metric, despite rushing beside the man-beast that is JJ Watt, then I reckon the Seahawks will gladly take the comp pick.

        That is, unless Clowney has some miraculous breakthrough in the second half of the season. I would love for him (or anyone else on the team) to be that guy but I don’t see it happening, which is why the Seahawks will likely have to dip aggressively into free agency / trade / draft.

        As for this year, don’t be surprised if they keep looking under rocks for more Dakota types, like Dion Jordan, as they desperately try to cobble together something – anything – for a potential playoff push. But the hard work will come next offseason.

  40. poweroflogic says:

    Just to clarify, those pressure stats and rankings cited are from PFF’s more objective Pass Rushing Productivity stats based on measured sacks/hits/pressures as opposed to their silly grades. Here are the numbers if anyone is interested:

    https://imgur.com/elc7vcs

  41. EranUngar says:

    The numbers above are ugly and match the eye test. The 7-2 record could be misleading and this defense could be our downfall this year.

    Or not.

    There are a few numbers nobody talks about. The numbers that has to do with key positional snaps rather than the overall performance. The “bend by don’t break” numbers.

    Would it surprise you that the Seahawks D is in the top 10 in the NFL on the following categories:
    3rd down %.
    red zone %.
    turnovers.

    Also, “defenses win championships” is an old and true axiom but does it hold true after all the rule changes favoring the high flying offenses?

    The last 3 SBs eatured top 4 scoring offenses.

    Last year all top 4 scoring offenses in the NFL played in the AFCCG and NFCCG.

    3 SBs ago the defense that allowed 21 points in the first half of the SB – WON
    2 SBs ago the defense that allowed 33 points in the SB – WON
    Last SB the defense that held NE to a measly 13 points all game – LOST.

    The NFL is funny that way. Teams that find a way to win games – win a lot and go far.

    Last year, on the 3rd quarter of the season, the RAM’s defense allowed well over 30 points a game (record 3-1). In the last 4 games of the season the allow a total of 70 points (record 2-2). In the NFC playoff wins they allowed 22,23 points and just 13 in the SB which they lost.

    So, while I understand what’s behind the doom and gloom suffocating atmosphere surrounding this defense and what it could mean for the rest of the season, A great offense led by an MVP QB plus a defense that can tighten up on 3rd downs and red zone possessions could go a long way in the modern NFL.

    • EranUngar says:

      Also, the discrepancy between the potent offense and struggling defense is not just some fluke. It was built that way by the FO.

      3 years ago the seahawks financial commitment to their defense was 20M higher than to their offense and looked like it. (In other words, 2 op quality Tackles to keep RW on his feet instead of Sowell, Webb and Fant)

      This year the offense costs close to 20M dollar more than the defense and looks like it. (In other words – Donald at DT or the best safety duo in the NFL)

      It is what it is.

      • Rob Staton says:

        The Seahawks definitely haven’t intentionally built this discrepancy. They’ve gone with a tried and tested formula of experience on offense and youth (speed) on defense. It’s inevitable when you do that the offense will cost more. They’re feeling the benefit of the experience and quality on offense. The defense is suffering because it’s green and raw in some areas, key players aren’t living up to expectations and the pass rush is awful.

        But the moves for Clowney and Ansah were an attempt to try and get the pass rush going. They haven’t sat down and decided they’re going to be an offensive centric team. We’ve heard too many Carroll interviews talking about his philosophy to think that would ever happen. They’ve simply not built a good defense and that will be rectified dramatically in the off-season.

        • EranUngar says:

          I see it differently.

          A 3 years ago they put their money on proven talent on defense and rolled the dice that Cable will make do with a bunch of JAGs. It did not work.

          They shifted to proven “experience on offense” and rolled the dice that PC will mold the “youth (speed) on defense” into a functioning unit. It hasn’t worked hat great so far.

          They signed Ansah and Clowney only after letting Clark go for the same cost.

          To me its clear that just like they could have enhanced the OL 3 years at the cost of a player or two on defense, they could have enhanced the defense greatly this year at the cost of offensive talent.

          I’m sure they did not intend for it to go so badly on defense as it had so far but they certainly put their money on the table to ensure the offense functions on a level that will not waste the best years of their top paid franchise QB.

          It works well for the offense so far even after losing Dissly and Britt and if their D can improve a little in the 2nd half of the season their could go further than most people here believe. I’ve been on the bullish wagon about this team all season long and while it has less crowded here I still believe…

          • Rob Staton says:

            It’s as simple as this — they’ve not changed anything. It’s just the defense is struggling this year and the offense is having to prop them up. No need to overthink this beyond that.

            • Doug says:

              I don’t know, Rob, I think Eran has a good point–it is the natural evolution of the team. When RW was on a cheap contract, the Seahawks could afford to go all in on D and pay their stars on 2nd contracts. But the balance has definitely shifted, and Carroll is back to 2011 in trying to build a D with a young secondary above average LB and the best they can do on the DL. I still like the potential of the D to get better in the back half of the season even as the competition gets stiffer–that is what we have come to expect from Carroll-coached teams.

              Great to hear from you Eran.

              • Rob Staton says:

                All that indicates is that more money is being distributed to the quarterback because they have to. It doesn’t say anything about any shift in vision or evolution of anything. Pete Carroll still consistently talks about his approach and style. They have not moved one jot on what their blueprint is. They’re simply distributing money differently because they have to. In this off-season it is 100% certain they will be aggressive to fix this pass rush because they need the defense to be far better than it is to play their brand of football and have their identity.

    • poweroflogic says:

      The bend don’t break observation is really important. We’ve forgotten some of this since halftime in Atlanta, after which Julio Jones and Mike Evans almost single handedly broke many of those positive trends. All is definitely not doom and gloom, even on defense. The averages don’t capture the incredible unevenness – highs and lows – of the defense as Pete and co. have adjusted to the D’s primary ‘weak link’, the four man rush.

      Just to recall though, here are some fairly recent numbers you might have been thinking of:

      – #2 blitz defense versus the pass — Wagner and especially Kendricks have been deadly, as you can see from the PFF pass pressure chart I linked above: https://twitter.com/NFLMatchup/status/1186274118011887622

      – #6 third down defense: https://twitter.com/NFLMatchup/status/1186274118011887622

      – Redzone defense was also in that neighborhood, at least before last game.

      It’s the four man rush that has been impotent, especially in terms of hits and hurries that destroy a play. Jefferson and Clowney are irregularly putting up some pressure while the DTs are providing almost no pressure, but mostly opponents have been able to contain this weak group with no unstoppable force or dual threat like Seattle used to have. As a result the blitz has been vital and dialing it up so effectively has helped the Seahawks stay situationally competitive. But it comes at great cost in terms of coverage flexibility and as a byproduct we get to hear fans moan that dlinemen are (necessarily) sent into coverage from time to time.

      The reliance on the blitz is a factor in another fan hobby horse these days: the ‘overreliance’ on ‘base package’ of three linebackers. Somehow these armchair defensive coordinators, drawing on their wealth of experience and knowledge, have chalked this up to more troglogdyte thinking from an aging, obsolete head coach. Kendricks plays on third down so much in part because he is by far the fastest linebacker on the field and a constant deadly blitz threat. He’s also better in most situations than the nickel cornerback who ‘won’ (by attrition and default) the ncb competition this year. Justin Coleman was top shelf but he isn’t around anymore.

      It’s a tightwire act and the hope has to be that one or two of these pieces on the defensive line come alive before the playoffs. Maybe they will.

  42. Kenny Sloth says:

    What position/players are people hoping we target in the draft? Early? Late?

    Even if we resign Clowney and extend Reed, DL is obviously a major liability to this team right now, but I don’t see many players that are an obvious scheme/range fit inside or out.

    Always a chance I’m overlooking someone like Collier last year and the combine always shakes loose a few more names, but it won’t be like last year for DL help. Pass rushers go fast and there aren’t many with premier profiles to begin with this year.

    Maybe it’s finally the year we trade up for a true immediate impact first rounder like a lot of folks have been craving. But we’ll probably trade down with a team looking for a signal caller. “Fromm and Eason are legit franchise guys, swear”

    Can’t really see any other obvious early needs, unless there is a OL they like, I’m all for continued reloading on the OL, but, again, I don’t think we will be picking in a favorable range for this draft.

    • Sea Mode says:

      Here’s my best guess as of right now taking into account need and likely strengths in the draft class:

      R1: WR or trade away for veteran DE
      R2 (x2): RB, LB (or WR if R1 traded away)
      R3: CB
      R4 (x2): OL, TE
      R5-7: DT, ST, S, CB project

  43. Brazilian Hawk says:

    One side note about our WR corps: Malik Turner had 9% of our snaps is outplaying Moore and Brown per target, who combined for 78% of the offensive snaps.

    Also I like to remember that beautiful block on the Moore TD play.

  44. Sea Mode says:

    Rob, an idea for the updated site: could we have a “current Seahawks draft stock” page where we can always keep an up-to-date list of projected Seattle draft picks? Or maybe even just as a little sidebar? I think that would be something fitting on THE “Seahawks Draft Blog”.

    It would be cool for commenters to be able to copy/paste in an easy way to put together Seahawks’ mock drafts. That would be a simple, good start. Then, if interested, one could even go a bit fancier with input fields next to each pick where one could write in the name of a prospect and then “output” the whole Seahawks’ mock in a pretty format to be copy/pasted into the comments section.

    I’d be glad to help put together this kind of additional resources to enrich the site in different ways, like a “useful draft links” page, and maybe even a page where we collect quotes from PC/JS philosophy and draft trends that we can refer people back to in discussions!

    Let me know if any of these ideas would interest you and I (as well as anyone else who would like to contribute) can start gathering materials.

  45. Sea Mode says:

    2019 Week 9: Seahawks vs Buccaneers | Seahawks All Access
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IdDk6W-2YcE

    That epic headset toss by Schotty at 11:33 is goin’ straight into the next Cable Thanos vid! 😂

  46. king. says:

    Of course the pass rush is a huge issue. Seattle is blitzing, but are they blitzing creatively? Are they tipping off their blitzes? We can be sure they aren’t blitzing effectively.

    So of course the effect of a tepid pass rush will be reflected in the numbers.

    But it seems to me the numbers paint another picture as well. Seattle gets thrown on a lot. While they aren’t giving up many big plays despite the poor pass rush, they are still giving up 7.5 yards per attempt on high volume. A reasonable, and unoriginal, conclusion is that the scheme is taking away the explosive play but leaving Seattle easy pickings underneath.

    They can either stick with a system that looks almost guaranteed to be death by a thousand cuts and pray that Wilson can outscore the other team. Or they can push the envelope, maybe give up more explosive plays, but also maybe generate some negative plays, stops, or more turnovers with a more aggressive game plan to mitigate the poor pass rush.

    I’m suggesting they sell out on every play. I think there is plenty of middle ground for more aggressive play calling on the defensive side of the ball.

    • cha says:

      I think the DB situation has been so unsettled this year with injuries that to this point, it’s been hard to have confidence and call a lot of plays where every DB has to be assignment-correct and handling their man. Perhaps a Blair/McDougald pairing can establish some consistency/comfort and allow for more chance-taking.

    • Rob Staton says:

      But the fact Kendricks is excelling in coverage better than some defensive backs counters some of what you’re saying.

      I think fans have become a bit obsessed with base defense being the issue. It’s clear to me. The Seahawks have arguably the worst pass rush in the league. That is enormously detrimental.

  47. JJ says:

    Rob,

    If possible can you do a breakdown or a list of players to watch that were invited to the senior bowl. List comes out today.

  48. Brazilian Hawk says:

    My favourite route for the 2020 offseason is:

    Trade 2020 1st round pick
    Extend Clowney for 3-year 69 mil contract.
    Extend Al Woods for 1-year 3 mil contract.
    Sign Ngakoue for a backloaded 3-year 66 mil contract.
    Let Reed walk.
    Let Jefferson walk unless we can get him for a 1-year 4 mil type of deal.
    Extend George Fant for a 1-year 3 mil contract.
    Let Ifedi walk.
    Cut Justin Britt.
    Cut Ed Dickson.

    • Brazilian Hawk says:

      My bad:

      Trade 2020 1st round pick for Odell Beckham Jr. than restructure his contract to increase his guarantees to reduce cap hit.

      Have Lockett, OBJr, Metcalf and Dissly catching passes from Wilson for the next two seasons, Have Clowney and Ngakoue rushing the passer at least for the next two seasons.

    • Georgia Hawk says:

      I think you are going to need to be north of 25/yr to re-sign Clowney. 3 year deal will probably need to be closer to 26-27 /yr.

      I would guess a starting point in negotiations would be somewhere around $75 mil guaranteed. market is only going up for guys like him and right now he has ALL the leverage over the Hawks.

      • Brazilian Hawk says:

        You mean 4+ million APY than Lawrence, Clark, Flowers, Dee Ford, Cameron Jordan, and 2.5-3.5 more than Khalil Mack? I don’t think so.

        I do think we’ll have to match what Mack’s making in order to sign him for a 3-year deal (leaning towards a higher guaranteed amount), though..

        • Georgia Hawk says:

          Whoops, for some reason I had it in my head they were sitting at $25/yr. That’s what I get for posting before I check exact numbers.

          Either way, I don’t think he is going to settle for a 3 yr deal as what amounts to the only marquee pass rusher FA. I think he will push for something closer to Lawrence and Clark’s deals in terms of length and guarantees.

          • Simo says:

            You know the Hawks aren’t going to pay Clowney that much, nowhere near Khalil Mack money IMO!

            They will bow out gracefully if someone is willing to go that high, and take a R3 comp pick in the process.

            Will be interesting to see what his market really is come next spring. He’s not a marquee pass rusher, although he is a very productive defensive lineman.

    • Adog says:

      They’re biggest off season priority is to resign ifedi. He looks great this year…and is pretty damn healthy.

      • Adog says:

        With Wilson’s propensity to scramble and step up into the pocket to his right and then throw to his left…I think that our right tacke is just as important to this offense as the left tackle.

  49. BruceN says:

    Rob,

    I always enjoy your columns. Thanks.

    Regarding our DL, since we are stuck with who we have at this point is there anything we can do with the scheme to mask the deficiencies (like stunts, Twists, slants, etc.). When watching the games it seems we play a plain vanilla bull rush and simple plays. We have been trying to move Clowney around but he’s been a one man band and can be handled by the OL if no one else is a threat. Blitzing (which we do quite a bit already) is not the answer either. Can we get more creative?

    • Rob Staton says:

      I think you can always try new stuff. I’m not sure creativity will create much difference though when really the only talented rusher they have is Clowney.

      • Simo says:

        Someone mentioned that maybe we only rush three most of the time and drop our best 8 into coverage. We don’t seem to get much pressure with 4 or 5, so why not try this out. Realize good QB’s pick apart this type of coverage, but even mediocre QB’s are picking the Hawks apart now!

  50. BruceN says:

    It couldn’t hurt. We don’t have the talent up front like the 49ers. No one outside of Clowney is going to win their 1-1 match ups. So I think if we create confusion by doing twists, slants and stunts we may get more pressure. 3 hits on Winston (a turn over machine) and allowing him time in the pocket to shred our D is concerning when we look at the teams we will be playing in the final stretch.

    What is your overall take on our defensive scheme? Norton’s defenses (including his time with the Raiders) haven’t performed that well. Pagano faired better with the same personnel in 2017 after he was let go.

  51. Kyle T says:

    What if we look at this from a slightly different perspective?

    Instead of thinking of this defense and thinking about what it would take to be great again, let’s consider, what it would take to just be middling / average. I think we probably all agree, that if we have an average defense and this offense, we can compete for the super bowl.

    Taking into account similar scheme and trying to compare personnel leads me to consider the 2011 and 2012 defenses under Pete Carroll. Specifically, let’s consider how far off we are on the DL from 2011:

    In 2011 we had 33 sacks. In 2019, we are on pace for 27 sacks. 2011 was an above average defense, that paired with this 2019 offense probably gets you to the NFCC game, if not the super bowl.

    Chris Clemons had 11 sacks, leading the team that year. Number two was a LB LeRoy Hill way down at 4 sacks.

    The LB Core was playing a young KJ Wright, LeRoy Hill, David Hawthorne. Shoot, even Aaron Curry made a few appearances that year.

    The secondary was the beginning of the LOB, but aside from Sherman, I don’t think Kam and Earl were as good as they later became with more experience under their belt.

    Elsewhere on the DL, we had run stuffers in Alan Branch, Red Bryant and Mebane who combined for 4 sacks total.

    Here’s what I’m suggesting: We are not that far off from where we need to be on this defense to be good enough to not be a major liability. We absolutely still need major offseason work. But what if the following tweaks happen in season and we just nudge forward a bit?

    1. We get back to playing more nickel because Diggs and/or Amadi step up and exceed the play of Jamar Taylor who seems to be a liability in nickel

    2. Someone – Reed, Green, Collier, Jefferson back from injury, anyone provides a little bit of interior pressure on obvious passing downs, enough to make Clowney off the edge more effective

    3. The secondary just grows a bit more in cohesiveness and mixing zone / man as Blair settles in, McDougald keeps doing his thing, Diggs mixes in once healthy.

    4. #3 leads to more effective blitzing from Bobby and Kendricks.

    5. Ansah does his best washed up Raheem Brock impression and gets 3 sacks? He’s still been banged up all year and may get slightly, just slightly better.

    I don’t believe the above 5 are impossible to achieve this year, and I also believe there’s a sum of the whole being greater than the sum of the parts possible as well. Cover a little bit longer, leads to better pressure on the QB. Slightly more pressure on the QB leads to more effective secondary play, etc.

    What do you all think?

    • Rob Staton says:

      I think it’s as simple as this — improve the pass rush. And they will do in the off-season.

      • Kyle T says:

        Rob,

        Thanks for the comment. Thanks for what you do! I’m a constant (obsessive?) reader of your site and I rarely post, but I love reading your articles and the community that assembles here.

        Should I take your comment to believe that you don’t expect even marginal improvement to the likes that I’ve described as probable during this season?

        • Rob Staton says:

          I’d take it a step further — I think even Pete Carroll doesn’t expect any improvement. I think they know they’re stuck until the off-season and that’s why they’re signing Josh Gordon because they know they need to do everything to help the offense because it’s propping up the defense. This is a problem that won’t be solved until the new year unfortunately.

  52. Bigten says:

    A few questions Rob:

    Could as many as 10 teams be looking to possibly get a QB early?
    With that and the talent at WR, 1/3 of the draft could go to those two positions ( 5 QBs and at least 5wr), could a blue chip like Kinlaw fall to us in the early mid 20s?

    With chargers possibly being one of the QB desiring teams, would boss possibly be available for 1st this year and next? Would that be advantageous?

    Could the lions be one of the QB desiring teams, and have hock on the block for our first? Seeing as he has been very under utilized this year?

    • Rob Staton says:

      I like Kinlaw but I’m not sure he’s blue chip. I don’t expect the top defenders to fall.

      I think Miami, Cincy, TB, Denver and maybe the Chargers are most likely to consider a QB. Maybe the Titans and Bears too. But some of these teams will go with veterans instead.

  53. Trevor says:

    I agree that Clowney seems like a must resign but at what price. he is good but he is not a dominant game changer at least so far in a Hawks uniform.

    The only difference from a roster standpoint between this years and last years pass rush unit is basically swapping Clark for Clowney. So while I get the arguement that Clowneys production has been limited because there is no complimentary pass rusher it is basically the same group that Clark played with last year and excelled.

    The DL is identical basically except Mingo and Martin replaced by Collier and Ansah.

    • Sea Mode says:

      It also has to do with how they are lining up to accommodate fielding 3 LBs, as explained in the interview Rob shared a few days ago. But it’s also simply true IMO that Clark balled out in a contract year last year, plus he didn’t have the neck injury he has been battling this year.

      But I also want to put something out there about Clowney since many are bringing up his lack of pass rush production. I’m not trying to deny the numbers, because those are facts and he does need to “get home” more often. Buy why isn’t a TFL valued similarly to a sack? I mean, both of them result in negative plays for the offense. And if Clowney slices into the backfield and blows up a run play, even if a different player gets the tackle, isn’t that arguably also quite valuable.

      So I think Clowney’s price will also be weighed upon the elite ability he has vs. the run, as well as taking into account that he has been consistently double-teamed since nobody else on the DL has been much of a threat at all. I’m fully expecting somewhere in the $18-20m/apy range. I think he could get $20m from someone on the open market, and at best he might decide he loves it in Seattle winning with Russ/Duane Brown and stay for $1-2m less.

        • Bigten says:

          This would leave me to believe that Clowney could be in for a boost of sacks. Just as if you had someone on the opposite spectrum of Clowney to have a regression to the mean, Clowney should see a progression to the mean. Which would be a nice boost in the second half of the season

          • Trevor says:

            Perhaps but that has been an issue for him since entering the league.

            • Brazilian Hawk says:

              Not an issue at all, he’s affecting the passer a lot just not bringing down sacks. Add his pass rush productivity with his elite production against the run and you can see he’s worth top dollar.

        • Sea Mode says:

          Incredible

      • Trevor says:

        I would agree with that Seamode. I just think if a defensive player wants $20 mil / yr + they should be a game changer. Guys like Khalil Mack and Aaron Donald are the type of guys who get that $ and they are not reliant on scheme or who lines up opposite to be dominant. They simply dominate and raise the level of the guys around them. I think Clowney is a really good player and is having a solid year I just dont see that elite game changer that warrants that type of contract.

      • Trevor says:

        I would agree with that assessment Seamode but when I think of defensive guys making $18-$20 mil per year. I think of Donald and Mack who elevate the players around them and dominate no matter what the scheme or surrounding talent look like. I think Clowney is a good player but not close to that level.

        • cha says:

          You’re about 15-20% low in your thinking there. Mack is making $23.5/yr and Donald $22.5. And those contracts were signed Fall 2018.

          • Trevor says:

            Are they the two highest paid?

          • Trevor says:

            So if they are making an average of $23 / yr and signed the deals in 2018 what will CLowney and the other top pass rushers be looking for this off season. Perhaps the $20 mil Seamode mentions is on the low end instead of the high end as I thought.

    • McZ says:

      Which some of us pointed out, when the Clowney-trade was debated.

      And really, they played crap at times when Clark was around in a pay–me season.
      They traded Clark. They added Ansah, they added Collier, they added Clowney.

      From all what we know, this DL should, no – has to perform better or at least as well as in 2018. It isn’t.

      Because
      – Ansah is a bust
      – Collier possesses no first round talent; this was another horrible first pick
      – We didn’t touched the depth available at DL
      – Clowney is not elite as Clark was at times, and he is no game wrecking alpha dog. He cannot elevate the unit.

      Finally, I know, we like to circumvent the elephant in the room, but so be it. For assembling this assortment of (debatable) mediocrity (and outright unoverlookable/assured bust potential) and for not assembling top talent, the FO bears the full responsibility. For not making much out of the players assembled, give credit to the coaching staff. Our problems are endemic and systemic.

      Since at least 2015, this team rests firmly on the shoulders of RW, is in constant rebuild, and quality gets worse. This includes “Mr. Half a career season” Josh Gordon.

  54. Sea Mode says:

    Can you even imagine this offense if Dissly weren’t hurt and Baldwin hadn’t retired…?

    D.K. Metcalf & Tyler Lockett Were UNSTOPPABLE | NFL 2019 Highlights
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9wC_UNxpmkU

    • Kingdome1976 says:

      Would be sweet. But by the end of the season I think it would come to the same outcome. We need to fix the D-line…period.

    • Trevor says:

      Those 4 would have been sick!

    • Matt says:

      I’m going to give a real hot take here…I’m glad Doug is gone and I think his presence on this current team would actually upset the apple cart. Doug was a great player…he was also pretty outwardly terrible towards RW and I have very little doubt that RW’s bump up in level of play has a lot to do with not having the cloud hanging over him.

      This team has some major holes – comraderie/unity is not one of them. I will gladly take a harmonious team with holes over what this team was in 2017.

      I don’t expect anybody to agree, but this team is far more enjoyable since a few guys left town. They were too big for their own britches.

      • Simo says:

        Fair point Matt. Even excellent players can and do wear out their welcome over time. Not just ADB, Sherm and Bennett are two prime examples.

        I also think we’re seeing a real coming out party for Lockett because he’s not playing in Doug’s shadow anymore.

        WR hasn’t been a trouble spot for the team this year, we all know where the trouble lies!!

        • Matt says:

          Glad I’m not alone! I think they call it the “Ewing Theory.” Grateful for what that group accomplished and happy they aren’t here anymore.

          Excellent point about Lockett. I think Doug would not be handling this situation well if he was all of a sudden #2 or even #3. Not necessarily fair of me to speculate, but I really have soured on him over the last year with how awful he has been towards RW.

          I love players who play with a chip. When it turns petty is when I think the milk is spoiled and it’s time to discard.

      • Sea Mode says:

        Not a hot take at all. I agree completely that, unfortunately, it was about time for Doug to go. But at least for all his attitude, his on-field production never slumped. Was just referring to having someone elite in the slot to complement our current WR excellence.

        #RondaleMoore2021?

        • Matt says:

          ZERO doubt about Doug’s on field performance. One of the most fun WRs to watch. He was an artist.

          I think there are a lot of intriguing options. Moore is a cool player. I like Raegor, Smith, Ruggs, Hamler…I think 2020 is the draft to get another high end WR. Quite a few that really fit this system.

      • Lil’stink says:

        I think it’s fair to say that Doug challenged Wilson and was perhaps overly critical of him in the process. I also think that helped in terms of Wilson’s development.

        In terms of the “vocal” players we have had in recent years, I think Doug was one of the more positive ones. When his tone got serious, it was usually to challenge someone. Not talk smack or disparage them. I think he always had the best intentions, even if It didn’t come across as such.

        I think there is a lot of revisionist history coming out about a few players who have left the team recently. And I think a lot of it is being amplified by the Russell Wilson fanboys (who, IMHO, are becoming more and more insufferable). All one has to do is peruse the comments on Reddit or Twitter on almost any given day. I know those sites aren’t hotbeds for thoughtful, constructive sports commentary but sheesh… there are people more concerned about Wilson’s MVP chances than the teams playoff chances. We’re 7-2! It’s not like we’re a .500 team, despite the obvious concerns.

        I think there have been a few guys that became “too big for their britches”. Namely Sherman and Bennett. But lumping Doug in with them kind of sounds like… I dunno… someone who is more of a Russell Wilson fan than a Seahawks fan. And that’s fine. It’s just that as I get older I have a tougher time comprehending adults who still engage in hero worship. Acknowledge Wilson’s greatness, his importance to the team, his community service, etc. But it’s still nice to be able to not lose objectivity.

        And yes, for the record, I think Wilson is the unquestioned MVP of the league this season. He’s been amazing. And it’s been great to see the progress he’s made the last couple of years. Truly an elite QB.

        • Rob Staton says:

          I’m going to chime in here because I’ve always been consistent with this and I’m not a ‘Wilson fan’ instead of a ‘Seahawks fan’ and I fully appreciated Doug Baldwin’s talent and the success he had.

          But I thought Baldwin was a pain in the arse at times when it came to Wilson with his bizarre feeling that he had to personally hold him accountable. He said some strange things in interviews over the years and look back at what he said in the summer about whether Wilson was a top QB.

          Great receiver. The second best we’ve ever had. Unreal competitor. Immense talent.

          But I think it’s perfectly fair to wonder why he approached Wilson the way he did. And I sense Wilson is better off for being allowed to lead this team instead of being undermined.

  55. Sea Mode says:

    👀

    Patrick Finley
    @patrickfinley

    The Mike Davis free agent signing isn’t going well. He could be cut by Sunday. The #Bears RB has been down a dark road before, and refuses to go there again.
    Future uncertain, Bears RB Mike Davis vows to not ‘let anything take my joy’
    Mike Davis played 55 offensive snaps over the Bears’ first two games — and 16 since

    https://chicago.suntimes.com/bears/2019/11/5/20950164/bears-mike-davis-running-back-matt-nagy-ryan-pace-compensatory-draft-pick-not-let-anything-take-joy

    8:29 PM · Nov 5, 2019

  56. Sea Mode says:

    And the Jennings stash is officially over…

    The Seahawks added to their offensive line depth on Tuesday, activating rookie guard Phil Hayes from the physically unable to perform list. Rookie receiver Gary Jennings was waived to make room on the 53-man roster.

    https://www.seahawks.com/news/seahawks-activate-guard-phil-haynes-from-pup-list

    • Logan Lynch says:

      Malik is a slightly more proven version of Jennings.

    • Elmer says:

      Which means that they preferred to stash Ursua. Unfortunate outcome for a 4th round draft choice.

      Now we will see if he clears waivers, and if so whether he is added to the practice squad. Wouldn’t bet against somebody like the Redskins taking a chance.

  57. Sea Mode says:

    A name to check out:

    Dane Brugler
    @dpbrugler

    1h
    OT/G Robert Hunt might be the meanest dude in the 2020 draft class.

  58. AndrewP says:

    ^^^Bummer about Jennings, but, if PCJS were of the belief he was not showing enough progression, or, that they got the vibe at this point of the season he’d pass through waivers, they’ve earned the benefit of the doubt^^^

    As for Ansah… If he truly ison Lacy levels of worthless, Pete needs to admit it and stop sending him out there. If he is seriously toast, start making him a healthy scratch and play someone who can actually contribute.

    Yes, pass rush is important, but, at this point, it seems there’s little point in hoping he can contribute. 47 spots available, all are precious, stop wasting one if he’s toast.

  59. Sea Mode says:

    The amount of backup QBs we’ve faced this season literally has to be some kind of record.

    Adam Schefter
    @AdamSchefter

    Today’s QB news…

    🏈Nick Foles has regained his job as the Jaguars’ starting QB.

    🏈Gardner Minshew has resumed his spot as a backup.

    🏈Cam Newton has been placed on IR, likely ending his season and potentially his time in Carolina.

    7:42 PM · Nov 5, 2019

    Kyle Allen incoming…

  60. Gaux Hawks says:

    Pocic or Dickson for the last spot? I imagine Dickson meaning we’re happy with Hunt/Roos? Thoughts?

  61. cha says:

    A thread of tape on Ziggy as a Hawk vs Ziggy in better days as a Lion.

    https://twitter.com/JohnPGilbertNFL/status/1191709672966897664

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