RENTON, Wash. — When the Seattle Seahawks were last on the field nearly two weeks ago, Jadeveon Clowney was their best player.
He was disruptive in every way possible — rushing the passer, stopping the run and generally causing headaches for the San Francisco 49ers.
And yet, Clowney didn’t see much of anything special in the impact he had, even if it was his best game since being traded to Seattle before the start of this season.
“I play a lot of great games I feel like. That game was just different because it was Monday night,” Clowney said. “It was an away game, prime time. I think everybody just saw it. I feel like I’ve been playing OK all season.”
Nobody in Seattle has any issue with what the Seahawks have gotten from Clowney during his 10 games thus far. He’s been the top performer for a defensive line group that until the game against San Francisco had been underperforming.
But what Clowney did against the 49ers was eye-opening, even for a former No. 1 overall pick. He had five tackles, five QB hits, one sack, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery he returned for a touchdown, not to mention plenty of other moments that didn’t show up in the official stats.
And if he has more games like that, the price tag for retaining his services after this season — whether by Seattle or someone else — is only going to rise.
“He had so many impact plays. Such a significant role in the night,” coach Pete Carroll said. “I think he affected the guys around him, most obviously, in terms of our pass rush, pressure on the QB, and just the activity. This was his best game. It’s looked like he should have numbers and stuff like that in what we’ve seen. We have not been disappointed at all in his activity, his effort, and all that.”
There is a little concern about Clowney’s status for this Sunday’s game at Philadelphia, even though he did not practice either Wednesday or Thursday, listed with knee and hip injuries. Carroll is expected to address Clowney’s status on Friday.
Clowney’s numbers for the season don’t speak to his impact, with just 21 tackles and three sacks. It took a bit of time for Seattle to find his best role within the concepts of its 4-3 defense. It has some similar properties to what Clowney did in the past, but also some significant differences.
Understanding those differences took some time. Clowney said defensive line coach Clint Hurtt has been a significant help in helping him learn the best ways to play within the system.
“I was kind of surprised. I told them, ‘What kind of 4-3 is this under? What is this? This is a different 4-3,’” Clowney recalled. “He broke it down to me. He said you’ll still be able to make your plays. Got it figured out. We’re going to put you in a good position. They started moving me around throughout the first couple weeks trying to figure out where I fit. They found a good spot for me.”
While Clowney is trying to keep the future out of his head, his contract status has defined his past couple of years. Clowney said each of the past two seasons he’s been caught up during the year thinking about what was coming next. Would be he paid appropriately? Would he have long-term security?
It’s helped ease some of Clowney’s concerns that he can’t currently negotiate with the Seahawks because he is playing on the franchise tag. When the trade was made, Seattle also agreed not to use the tag after this season. No matter what, whether it’s in Seattle or elsewhere, Clowney should get the long-term deal he wants this offseason.
“I’m done thinking about that. Just take it one game at a time. One season. One play,” Clowney said. “You never know what’s going to happen. You can be one play away from the end and it all could blow up in your face. Just continue to have fun. Continue to play at a high level. Enjoy this game because it can be taken away from you at any minute. Not worried about what the future holds right now.”