Seahawks defense must add speed on the D line to compete

SEATTLE, WASHINGTON - DECEMBER 02: Jadeveon Clowney #90 of the Seattle Seahawks. (Photo by Alika Jenner/Getty Images)
SEATTLE, WASHINGTON - DECEMBER 02: Jadeveon Clowney #90 of the Seattle Seahawks. (Photo by Alika Jenner/Getty Images) /

“Speed kills” is one of the oldest adages in sports. The Seahawks have to improve theirs on the D line, or they’re going nowhere in the postseason.

Considering the terrible run of injuries the Seahawks endured toward the end of the season, our boys in navy and gray did the 12s proud. Doubters, please point out all the other teams that made the playoffs with their fourth-string running back and tight end, second-string center and left guard, plus the usual assorted playing-through-the-pain injuries. So I’m proud of how the Hawks performed. However, there is no doubt that the defense in particular needs to get faster.

Even with all the injuries on offense, Seattle still ranked ninth in the league in points scored. The defense told a completely different story. They certainly had their share of injuries. Ziggy Ansah missed five games and was basically hurt the entire season. Jadeveon Clowney missed three games, and played hurt throughout the end of the season and the playoffs. Regardless, the defenders weren’t hit nearly as hard as the offense. Yet they ranked just 22nd in points allowed. That’s unacceptable for any team that wants to make the playoffs, doubly so for the Seahawks.

Before you say, ‘but what about the Chiefs?’, let me point out that their often maligned defense ranked seventh in the league in points allowed. Kansas City allowed 90 fewer points than Seattle. Anyone wish we could take a few points off the scoreboard for the Niners in that second game? Or maybe keep the Packers out of the end zone on just one more drive?

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Getting back to Clowney, he is among the best defensive linemen in the league at closing speed. I think it’s safe to say he had one of the best seasons ever for a guy with just three sacks. The Hawks definitely need him back in the fold for the future. Ansah is fast when he’s healthy, but health has proved to be a more elusive target for Ziggy than opposing quarterbacks. If there was some magical – and legal – potion that would restore him to full health, I’d love to see him in a Seahawks uniform next season. Neither of those dreams are going to happen, though.

Poona Ford is never going to be a burner at defensive tackle, and that’s okay. He’s there to stop the run, and he’s darn good at it. Quinton Jefferson had a breakout season, and should be a priority re-signing for Seattle. In fact, he was much better than the high profile Jarran Reed. Mr. Reed is delusional if he thinks he’s worth the money he’s talking about. The Hawks also have the underrated Rasheem Green in the mix. One big addition to the line could pay huge dividends for the Hawks pass rush.

Next. Hawks off-season guide. dark

Since I mentioned the Chiefs, many of you no doubt immediately thought, ‘We had the speed rusher. We had Frank Clark.’  True enough. Whether the trade of Clark proved to be the right move for Seattle won’t truly be known for a few more years, but I’ll take a quick look at that another time. For now, the Hawks should focus on adding a speed rusher that can actually play on more than a third of the snaps.