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Seahawks ready to shake up defense

Seattle needs to apply more pressure on QBs

Bennett Played 44 of 49 snaps in loss to Rams
Bennett Played 44 of 49 snaps in loss to Rams
Gregg Bell Tacoma News Tribune

RENTON, Wash. – The Seattle Seahawks obviously can’t stay the same, not if they want to even have the chance to defend their Super Bowl championship in this season’s playoffs.

So changes are coming, specifically on defense to address the dormant pass rush before Sunday’s game at Carolina, coach Pete Carroll said Monday.

If the season ended today, Seattle would be out of the postseason. The 28-26 loss Sunday at St. Louis, in which the Seahawks fell behind 21-3 in the second quarter, leaves them third in the NFC West.

The three defeats are as many losses as Seattle had in 19 games last season through the Super Bowl. As Sunday against the previously 1-4 Rams reminded all, this sure isn’t last year.

One of the primary differences between the 2013 and ’14 Seahawks has been the lack of a consistent pass rush. Since beginning this season with three sacks of Aaron Rodgers in the 36-16 victory over Green Bay, the Seahawks have just four sacks in their last five games – and they’ve lost three of those – and seven this season. Only winless Oakland and St. Louis have fewer than Seattle’s seven sacks.

Last season at this time the Seahawks defense had 20, on its way to 44 sacks that tied for eighth-most in the league last season.

The differences? Clinton McDonald (5.5 sacks last season) is in Tampa Bay now. Chris Clemons (4.5 sacks in 2013) is in Jacksonville. Rookie defensive end Cassius Marsh went on injured reserve last week and defensive tackle Jordan Hill is out with a sprained ankle after being mostly unproductive in five games.

The absence of quality depth and production along the defensive line has meant far more snaps for ends Michael Bennett and Cliff Avril. They are staying on the field for most running and passing downs. Bennett played 44 of the defense’s 49 snaps against the Rams. Avril had 34.

Bennett has three sacks this season, but none in the last four games. Avril hasn’t had a sack since the opener.

Seattle’s plan entering the season wasn’t to have Bennett playing 90 percent of the snaps.

Defensive-line coach Travis Jones explained in August one of the key reasons the Seahawks’ pass-rush was so explosive and affected so many games late last season, including ruining Peyton Manning and Denver’s Super Bowl. Jones said it was because his pass rushers were fresh from all the rotating early in games, and all the deep production Seattle got up front all season.

Those days of the front four affecting quarterbacks have ended. In turn, a defense that led the league in interceptions has just two in six games.

That’s how important not consistently affecting the quarterback has been this season. And that’s why Carroll said the Seahawks are changing the way they conduct their pass rush.

“The inability to affect the quarterback has really been a factor, so there’s some things we have to do that will change us a little bit from what we’ve been in the past,” Carroll said.

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