Jadeveon Clowney is as soft-spoken as anyone in the Seahawks locker room. But there was an unmistakable intensity to his voice on Thursday.
His Seahawks are preparing for an NFC West-deciding matchup against the 49ers on Sunday to close the regular season. A win would assure them of at least a first-round home game, if not a first-round bye. Beating San Francisco would drop the rival 49ers from the No. 1 seed all the way to the No. 5 spot.
“I think everybody is getting ready to go to war, one more battle,” Clowney said. “It’s a playoff game for us. It’s our first playoff game. … We know that. We know what’s at stake, and we’re practicing like we know what’s at stake.”
Most importantly for Seattle, Clowney made it clear that he will be in the lineup. That’s a huge boost for the Seahawks as he’s their top-graded defensive player according to Pro Football Focus (88.8 overall grade).
“There’s no way I’m not playing,” he said. “I know the team needs me this week, and I need to be out there with them and do what I can do to help this team win against the 49ers.”
Clowney dominated the 49ers in the first go-round, a 27-24 overtime win in Week 10. He posted one sack, five quarterback hits, 11 total pressures, a forced fumble, a fumble recovery and a touchdown.
He’s since been dealing with a painful core muscle injury that’s sports hernia-related. Clowney missed the Seahawks last two games as he also dealt with a nasty flu bug. He joked that the flu wasn’t a good combo with his core injury.
“Too much coughing,” Clowney said, laughing. “I’m happy that’s over with.”
Playing Sunday is a selfless move from a superstar-caliber player. Clowney is likely to have offseason surgery prior to becoming an unrestricted free agent. It would be hard to blame him if he considered calling it a season in order to avoid any more damage.
That option never crossed Clowney’s mind, though.
“I never want to quit anything. That’s always my mindset and goal – to finish what I started,” Clowney said. “If I didn’t do that, then I’d be a selfish person, and I ain’t no selfish person. I’m going to go give them what I got let the chips fall where they may.”
The Seahawks missed Clowney in their loss to the Cardinals in Week 16. Seattle’s pass rush is largely anemic without him and it showed against Arizona. The silver lining is that the extra week off has helped Clowny considerably.
He’s feeling far better than he did just a few weeks back.
“Oh for sure,” Clowney said confidently. “I’m in a way better place.”
Adrenaline should take over on Sunday and help get him through what should be an epic bout against the 49ers. The biggest game of the 2019 NFL regular season will also be the last as it has been flexed into “Sunday Night Football.”
Whatever comes after that matchup is a next week problem for Clowney. There’s no sense in worrying about it now. He’s got a war to prepare for.