Dec. 16, 2012; Glendale, AZ, USA: Detroit Lions defensive end Cliff Avril (92) against the Arizona Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium. The Cardinals defeated the Lions 38-10. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Seattle Seahawks Can Find Success With The Giants' NASCAR Package

After dominating the latter part of the 2012 NFL season, and going 11-5 over all, it was fair to expect the Seattle Seahawks to stay mostly still during the 2013 free agency period. It has been the norm for the Seahawks to let the market sort itself out before signing any free agents that weren’t their own.

After recording just two sacks in two playoff games, many expected Seattle to sign a pass rusher at some point. Starting DE/OLB Chris Clemons tore his ACL during a playoff game against the Washington Redskins. This injury left 2012 rookie Bruce Irvin as the only pass rushing defensive lineman on the roster. Clemons’ injury resulted in no pressure against Matt Ryan and the Atlanta Falcons during the divisional playoff game. Seattle’s season ended in the Georgia Dome after the Falcons marched down-field with less than a minute left to kick a game winning field goal.

Surprisingly, Seattle has answered the pass rushing problem very aggressively in free agency by signing former Detroit DE Cliff Avril and Tampa Bay DE/DT Michael Bennett. Together Bennet and Avril combined for 18.5 sacks during the 2012 season. Both free agents expected to get big contracts but a tight salary cap for NFL teams has led to a slower market. Avril signed a two year deal worth $15 million. Bennett took a one year deal worth just $5 million.

Seattle now has a full arsenal of defensive linemen who can rush the passer. The only question is where will they all play? Many have looked at the New York Giants’ NASCAR package which uses four defensive ends on the line of scrimmage. I believe Pete Carroll and the staff will take this approach with the Seahawks’ defense on passing downs. The NASCAR package requires two linemen who are fast and strong enough to play inside and create pressure up the middle, while the smaller defensive ends create a rush from the outside.

The player personnel for Seattle when deploying the NASCAR package would be (left to right) Irvin, Clemons, Bennett, and Avril. When this group of four potential threats is on the field, their height and weight average out to 6’4” and 259 pounds. The Giants’ NASCAR package which included Jason Pierre-Paule, Justin Tuck, Osi Umenyiora, and Mathias Kiwanuka averaged out to 6’5” and 267 pounds. While there may be a size difference in the New York and Seattle, the Seahawks have the dual  advantages of youth and speed.

It is difficult to know for sure what package Seattle will send out on passing situations when the season starts, but it is intriguing to think about.

Tags: Bruce Irvin Chris Clemons Cliff Avril Jason Pierre-Paule Justin Tuck Mathias Kiwanuka Michael Bennett New York Giants Osi Umenyiora Seattle Seahawks

  • Hawk_Eye

    I was also thinking about this when we picked them up. I don’t think you can put all four of these guys on the defensive line without some interior help. All four of them, together are just too small. The other teams offense will just run at that group. You need to add a Mebane or Branch to that lineup. Then you can drop one into pass coverage. I read somewhere where Pete mentioned Cliff Avril has played linebacker in the past. So I think in some pass situations, Cliff will play at the line and drop back into pass coverage and other situations he will play weak outside linebacker and rush the passer from there. Or maybe we are all just over analyzing everything, and they’ll just rotate them to keep them fresh.

    • m_christensen87

      You are correct in the fact that this line is too small to defend the run, but 3rd and 6, and greater not many teams will run the ball, and if they got Wagner, and KJ wright in the box, while Sherman, Browner, and Lane play man, it will be hard to get those 6 to 10 yards plus to get a first down.

      • Hawk_Eye

        Good point. I’m just not sure I like my chances with that small lineup trying to hold a runner to 6-8 yards. You’re probably right.

        • All Coug’d Up

          I really think with the speed at LB it won’t be as big of a problem. I agree also the size isn’t ideal for stopping a draw or something, but with the offense the Hawks possess teams aren’t going to call too many draws on the off chance that they overpower this front 7. If Seattle did want to go with something of this nature, faking a cover one look might be another way to discourage a run against the front, bringing Kam up closer to the box pre-snap and dropping him back last second into coverage.