RENTON — The numbers aren’t pretty: Through five games, the Seahawks defense has accumulated just 10 sacks and 16 tackles for loss, both near the bottom of the NFL rankings.
What’s more, the Seahawks have sacked opposing quarterbacks on just 4.9% of dropbacks, according to Pro Football Reference, which would represent Seattle’s lowest sack rate of the Pete Carroll era should it hold for the remainder of the season.
Surely not the kind of figures the Seahawks expected when they acquired Ziggy Ansah and Jadeveon Clowney to bolster the pass rush.
Clowney, for one, is confident the pass rush will get better. And the good news, he noted, is this: The Seahawks are, at 4-1, off to a great start even while their new-look defensive line works through its early-season issues.
“That’s the funny part,” Clowney said Monday. “We keep laughing in the locker room about us not being on the same page, about us not rushing as good as we normally do.”
But, he added, “We’re winning games and we’re not playing our best right now, which is always a good thing. It’s a long, long season. We’ve just got to come to play each week and knock ’em off one at a time. Right now, don’t look down the road. Just get prepared for Cleveland.”
Acquired in a trade with Houston just before the start of the season, Clowney said after the Seahawks’ victory over the Rams last Thursday that he is “very, very happy” to be in Seattle.
“It’s just something about this team,” he said. “They never hit the panic button. They come to work and prepare like pros ever since I’ve been here. They’ve taught me so much about this game in a short amount of time. This coaching staff that I haven’t had — I’m not saying that they were a bad coaching staff before, but there’s stuff that I hadn’t learned.”
He is still learning the Seahawks’ 4-3 defensive scheme, after playing in a 3-4 for five years in Houston. He’s also learning his new teammates and their tendencies; there were times in Thursday’s game, he said, when he ended up in the same rush lane as a teammate. Those type of corrections need to be worked through in practice, he said.
The Seahawks travel to Cleveland this Sunday to face a reeling Browns team coming off a 31-3 loss at San Francisco on Monday night. Browns QB Baker Mayfield has been sacked 16 times in five games.
The Seahawks didn’t have any sacks against the Rams, but they did hit Jared Goff five times and coach Pete Carroll says he can sense his edge rushers are on the brink of a breakthrough.
“You can just feel it’s coming alive,” Carroll said.
Clowney has just one sack in five games, but he had his first career pick-six in the win at Arizona and followed that up against the Rams with a forced fumble, two QB hits and six pressures.
“The next step is make sacks, not just get pressure,” Clowney said. “We’ve been getting pressures — a lot of pressures — but we’re not finishing and getting sacks.”
Clowney and Ansah have played in three games together, and really just two with Ansah playing regular snaps. Their time, Clowney said, is coming.
“That December football (will) be real crazy,” he said. “You know how it is in December. Once we start clicking on all cylinders, I think we’re going to make a big push at the right time. That’s all we’re waiting on. Everything’s about timing. We’ve just got to keep working together, keep getting better and winning games.”