Bruce Irvin tearing his ACL was a brutal blow to the Seahawks defense. He was Seattle’s marquee free agent addition tasked with improving the team’s pass rush this season. Now he’s done for the year.
The Seahawks already thin pass rush is now even more desperate as both of the Seahawks top offseason investments are now on the shelf. Remember second-round pick Darrell Taylor is still on NFI due to ongoing rehab from shin surgery.
That’s why fans spent the early part of the week hypothesizing about who the team could add. Cameron Wake, Jabaal Sheard and even Clay Matthews were put onto a wish list by many.
But instead of bringing in outside help, Seattle is opting to stand pat and roll with in-house options for now, marking yet another gamble by the front office in regard to how it has addressed the pass rush. Irvin’s roster spot was filled by practice squad defensive tackle Anthony Rush. Alton Robinson and potentially D’Andre Walker, two players who spent the first two weeks as healthy inactives, are the only other reinforcements coming to aid Seattle’s pass rush-needy defensive line.
“We’re always competing to find some help in all areas, so we’re doing that,” Pete Carroll said on Wednesday. “We have some guys who are working, and the competition is on for who can step up and be the next guy. … We’re working with the guys we have.”
Seattle’s pass rush has just three sacks through two games, and only one of those has come from a defensive lineman. And even though ESPN ranks the Seahawks 12th in pass rush win rate, anyone who watched last Sunday’s game saw Cam Newton sitting in a clean pocket for most of the contest.
The Seahawks sacked Newton just once and hit him just five times. After the game, Carroll initially said that the pass rush struggled and that it’s on the coaching staff to get more creative. Carroll has since changed his tune a bit.
“Had we just converted the sacks that we had available that we had our hands on the quarterback, we would have had five sacks,” Carroll said. “We need to finish our rushes. I don’t know why we’re leaning on the safety (Jamal Adams) so much other than the fact that he’s a really good football player. But he had two other sacks in his hands.”
There’s one part of that quote that really sticks out: “I don’t know why we’re leaning on the safety so much.”
That’s pretty obvious, isn’t it? We knew going into the season that Jamal Adams was likely the best pass rusher on the roster. Adams has two of Seattle’s three sacks, and as Carroll noted, two of the four missed sack opportunities against the Patriots were also credited to Adams.
Put simply, the Seahawks have struggled to get to the quarterback with a four-man rush. That’s a major reason why Seattle is blitzing 35.9% of the time through two games compared to 26.9% in 2019.
Adams’ presence alone accounts for some of the uptick. It’s incumbent on the Seahawks to rush him often given his ability. But as ESPN’s Brady Henderson said so eloquently this week (and I’m paraphrasing here), “You want to blitz Adams as a luxury, not out of necessity. Right now it’s a necessity.”
And Brady is absolutely right. Benson Mayowa, L.J. Collier, Damontre Moore, Jarran Reed and, while healthy, Irvin haven’t gotten it done thus far.
It should be noted that Adam Schefter reported Seattle is bringing in Damon “Snacks” Harrison for a visit next week. But Harrison is a defensive tackle, and while the veteran would add to the depth and overall quality of the group, he only has 11 career sacks and wouldn’t do much to bolster Seattle’s need on the edge.
So maybe Robinson will be the cure. Maybe the other guys will start to click as well. But this feels like delaying the inevitable truth that the Seahawks are going to need outside reinforcements in order to keep the pass rush from derailing a potential championship run.