#12 – Chris Clemons

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Speaking of pass rush, here we are with Chris Clemons.

In his first five seasons in the NFL, Clemons had a total of 20 sacks.  In his last two seasons, both with the Seahawks, Clemons has had 22 sacks.  In 2011, he was tied for 11th in the NFL with 11 sacks.  In 2010, he was tied for 10th in the NFL with 11 sacks.  Over the past two years, there have been seven players in all of the NFL – including Clemons – who have had double-digit sack totals in each season (the others:  Jared Allen, DeMarcus Ware, Jason Babin, Terrell Suggs, Tamba Hali, and Trent Cole).

That’s some pretty good company.

One season:  you can write off as a fluke.  Back-to-back seasons:  that’s a trend, and in this case, a delightful trend.  If nothing else, he has proven to be healthy thus far in his Seahawks career (knock on wood).

I’m on record as patently against Clemons holding out to get a new deal, but that doesn’t mean I think he’s a bad player.  Quite the contrary; on a team like this, where pass-rush is at a premium, I think Clemons is fabulous!  I’m glad he’s on the team and I’m glad he’s going to be playing for us without incident in the 2012 season.

Moreover, I’m even more glad we addressed pass rush in the draft this year.  I’m hoping that Bruce Irvin proves his worth as a first round pick, because that will be good for the Seahawks in two ways.  The most obvious:  because he will be good, and it will vindicate the drafting job that John Schneider and Pete Carroll have done thus far.  And also:  because if Irvin is good, that should theoretically open things up for Clemons on the opposite side.

Let’s face it, most offenses are only going to keep one extra tight end to pass-protect, at most.  They’re not going to put a tight end on both sides to block our ends, that would be insane.  Therefore, either Clemons or Irvin SHOULD have a single man blocking him on most downs.  With their talent, you have to like those odds more often than not.

I’m going to go out on a limb and say the Seahawks’ pass rush will be markedly improved in 2012.  Last year, the Seahawks had 33 sacks as a team on defense.  This year:  I’m predicting at least 43, a 10-sack improvement.  That would have put us squarely in the Top 10 in the NFL last season; I don’t think that’s out of the question this year.  And, if we reach that goal, I would expect Chris Clemons to be a big part of that.

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