Pass rush suddenly disappears again for Seahawks
RENTON, Wash. (AP) — For the first half of the season, Cliff Avril, Michael Bennett and the rest of the Seattle Seahawks defensive line were able to create havoc, getting into the backfield and making opposing quarterbacks aware of their presence.
Through eight games, Seattle had recorded 27 sacks and at one point Avril was leading the NFC in sacks.
But for the past five games, the pass rush and the ability to sack the quarterback has gone missing. And as Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers showed in Sunday’s 38-10 thumping of the Seahawks, if given enough time due to the lack of pressure it’s possible to find holes in Seattle’s secondary.
“I am concerned about that. We would like to get those numbers back to going like they were,” Seattle coach Pete Carroll said.
Over the past five games, Seattle has just five sacks, highlighted by the complete lack of pressure on Rodgers. Seattle recorded one sack — late in the third quarter when Rodgers fell down — and had just three quarterback hits. The lack of pressure allowed Rodgers to pick apart Seattle’s secondary to a passer rating of 150.8, the highest ever allowed by the Seahawks since Carroll took over.
It’s a growing concern not so much for the final three weeks of the regular season when Seattle faces the other three NFC West teams, all headed for losing seasons, but whether it will be an issue when the postseason arrives.
“I’m disappointed in that because our numbers were rolling just before in the last few weeks,” Carroll said. “In this game, we tried to keep him in the pocket and we did and he hung around and made the most of it. He did a great job, talking about Aaron (Rodgers). We were surprised coming out of the game that we weren’t able to get him down.”
While the Seahawks were upset with the lack of penalties called on the Green Bay offensive line, the trend was pointing downward in pressures for the previous few weeks. Seattle had two sacks each in wins over New England and Philadelphia, but was shut out in a loss at Tampa Bay and a blowout win over Carolina. If not for Rodgers falling down, Seattle would have gone three straight games without a sack for the first time under Carroll.
Avril had a huge month of October and second-year defensive end Frank Clark played extremely well in the weeks that Bennett was out with a knee injury. But in the past few weeks, their impact has diminished. The trio of Avril, Bennett and Clark has a combined 10 quarterback hits and one sack in the past four games.
Seattle does not blitz extensively, putting most of the onus on the defensive line to get to the quarterback. In passing situations, Seattle has regularly chosen speed over size, using Cassius Marsh and Bennett on the inside, with Clark and Avril rushing from the edges. It’s worked in stretches this season, but not recently.
“There’s no excuse. We’ve got to get there,” Avril said. “(Green Bay) did some good things stalling us out in a sense. There are so many things you could blame it on but at the end of the day I’m a professional athlete and I get paid to get to the quarterback. I have to get to the quarterback no matter the circumstances.”
NOTES: Seattle placed FB Will Tukuafu (concussion) and RB Troymaine Pope (ankle) on injured reserve and signed RB Kelvin Taylor and LB Ronald Powell to the 53-man roster. Taylor had been on Seattle’s practice squad briefly earlier this season. Powell was signed off of Chicago’s practice squad.