Currently as we speak a group of Seattle groundskeepers are flying to Washington to execute a covert operation. The FedEx Field turf must be restored to something that doesn’t resemble a lawn mower racing track. Yes, there are lawn mower racing tracks. Yes, I once lived in a van down by the river.
That field — that shoddy, clumpy, barely playable field — contributed to the downfall of Chris Clemons, a massive and possibly crippling loss as the Seahawks now begin preparing to visit Atlanta in the divisional round. NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport is confirming what was widely reported last night: Clemons tore his ACL and meniscus, and he’ll be out for the remainder of the Seahawks’ season.
A visit with the doctor of the sports stars, Dr. James Andrews, will provide some finality, but it looks like Seattle will have to go about the business of pressuring Matt Ryan without the guy who’s their best player when asked to execute such a task. The Seahawks finished the regular season with 36 sacks (tied for 18th). You may be looking at that number, and thinking that it’s not great, and not horrid either. And you’re right, as it’s nearly the definition of average.
OK cool, so with a healthy Clemons who had 11.5 sacks and with the exception of Irvin no other Seahawk had more than three (Irvin had eight), Seattle was mediocre using a metric that’s already poor while gauging the effectiveness of a pass rush. It gets worse when we use QB hits, a much better measuring stick.
The Seahawks were 27th with only 64 hits. How many of those QB knocks did Clemons account for? Welp, here’s what happens when we use the best metric of all…
Chris Clemons is a huge blow for Seattle. Accounts for 59 total pressures this year. Rest of the SEA DL (9 guys) have 135 combined.
— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) January 7, 2013
So yes, this is crushing, and now the responsibility of getting to Ryan rests almost solely on the ample shoulders on Irvin, who has typically been on the field only during passing downs. He’ll be chasing Ryan while trying to get past the seventh-ranked offensive line during the regular season that allowed only 28 sacks. However, Ryan is susceptible to pressure behind his O-line, as he was hit 83 times (25th).
But of those sacks, seven came in one game, and there were 10 others when Ryan was brought down only once. Add it all up, and he’ll likely have more time to find Julio Jones and Roddy White deep downfield, putting an even heavier defensive burden on Brandon Browner and Richard Sherman.