That title’s a little misleading, because I don’t know if you can ever really fix a pass rush, in that I don’t think it’s possible to have ENOUGH of it. Outside of quarterback, it’s the most important facet of your team (because, obviously, it’s the biggest thing that affects the opposing team’s quarterback). So, even if – on paper – the Seahawks were the most stacked team in the league, I’d still be sitting here saying, “We could use a little more.”
Heading into – and especially coming out of – the draft, the Seahawks appeared to be a prime candidate to be movers and shakers in this market. Whereas most of the other top teams were at capacity as far as their salary caps were concerned, the Seahawks had money to burn. Of course, that’s in large part due to the trade of Frank Clark. As we’ve all talked about ad nauseam, the Seahawks’ #1 need heading into this offseason was pass rush, and that’s when Frank Clark was ON the roster! Without him, things went from bad to worse in a hurry.
The first domino to fall was with the first pick in the draft; the Seahawks brought in L.J. Collier. Which, okay. It’s a need and that’s not a bad way to build for the future. But, you can’t really count on a rookie taken at the bottom of the first round to be much of an impact player. A contributor, sure. But, what do those guys usually get you? A handful of sacks? Regardless, he figures to be a significant step down from Clark, and again, we needed to boost our pass rush BEFORE getting rid of Clark.
Next up was the signing of Ziggy Ansah, and we all breathed a sigh of relief. That’s with a huge caveat, of course, because he’s coming off of an injury and we have no idea what we’re getting. While it’s a cost-effective move to bet on a high-upside stud, he could be the next Cliff Avril or the next Dion Jordan. If he’s Avril, then excellent, that makes up for the loss of Clark, and you hope you strike oil with Collier on the other side. If he’s Jordan, then we’re proper fucked.
I know a lot of Seahawks fans were hoping the team would sift through the remaining scraps on the free agent market and use some of that extra money to put the fear of God in our opponents’ O-Lines. But, Ndamukong Suh ended up with the Bucs and Gerald McCoy ended up with the Panthers (having just been released by the Bucs). Both of them are earning under $10 million on one year deals and it’s left a lot of us wondering WHAT THE FUCK, SEAHAWKS?!
OTA’s are in effect as we speak, so the coaches are getting first looks at how the 2019 team is shaping up, but it’s gotta be hard to tell how good (or bad) this pass rush will be without contact and games and all that. I would hope common sense will prevail at some point and the front office will dip its toes back into the free agency waters, because shit is looking GRIM!
And, I get it, there’s only so much money to go around. Bobby Wagner needs a new deal. The team would like to jump on the Jarran Reed train ahead of the final year of his rookie deal, to maybe see some savings on a real up-and-comer. Those guys have to take precedence this summer. But, at some point, the team needs to dive back into that dumpster, if for no other reason than to add more competition in Training Camp.
Defensive Ends/SAM Linebackers
- Ziggy Ansah
- L.J. Collier
- Cassius Marsh
- Rasheem Green
- Jacob Martin
- Branden Jackson
- Shaquem Griffin
- Barkevious Mingo
The top two guys I’ve already talked about. Marsh is a veteran whose specialty is special teams, and it wouldn’t shock me in the slightest if he’s cut before the regular season. Green and Martin are coming off of rookie years that were varying shades of underwhelming. Green has the higher upside, but also the most to prove, given his status as a third round draft pick. You hate to put too much on a kid’s shoulders in his second season in the league, but if Ansah doesn’t pan out for whatever reason, this defense is going to be heavily reliant on a couple of second year prospects.
Jackson strikes me as another possible cut before the regular season, though if he’s ever going to make the leap, now would be the time, what with it being his third year. Failing that, I like to hear about Griffin getting a chance to rush the passer, considering that was his specialty in college. I’m sure most coaches and front office people were put off by his smaller size – and that very well might be what keeps him from ever finding a natural position in the NFL – but at least he’s getting a chance. With his speed and agility, here’s hoping he’s able to use that to his advantage. As for Mingo, he’s never really been much of a pass rusher, and I don’t see that changing. For that reason, I don’t really see a role for him on this team, barring injuries.
- Jarran Reed
- Poona Ford
- Al Woods
- Quinton Jefferson
- Naz Jones
- Demarcus Christmas
Reed took a HUGE step forward in Year 3, and while there’s always the hope that he has more room to grow, it’s also just as likely that last year was an anomaly and he’ll regress a little bit. We’ll see; fingers crossed on that end. Poona Ford is more of a run stuffing specialist, as is Al Woods, who is a veteran widebody we brought in on a one year deal.
Jefferson and Jones are both interesting, as they’re relatively young, but have been in the program long enough (entering their 4th and 3rd seasons, respectively). Both are apparently being groomed as 5-Tech ends in base defense, as they’ve both flashed potential at times to be harassers of the quarterback. They’ve also flashed potential to be total duds, as they’ve often found themselves as healthy scratches on gamedays. I feel like 2018 was hard on both of these guys, but there’s ample opportunity in 2019, so I hope they’re ready to go to work.
The bottom line is: outside of Jarran Reed, there are a lot of question marks on this team from a pass rush perspective. If it all breaks right, we could be talking about a young and dominant force. If it all breaks wrong, we could be talking about the main reason why this team fails to make the playoffs. Gun to my head, I’m leaning towards the latter, but there’s still time to prove me wrong.