Jadeveon Clowney and L.J. Collier have each made their debuts over the last two weeks. Now it’s Ziggy Ansah’s turn.
If it goes well, the Hawks might have the trio that, for this year anyway, is supposed to approximate the 2013 pass rush of Michael Bennett, Cliff Avril and Chris Clemons.
“We wanted to make sure everything was right,” Pete Carroll said of the long wait for Ansah. “He’s had three good weeks of work and he’s in really good shape. … He’ll play a considerable amount. He’s practiced hard enough to do that.
“That’s really going to be fun to see him out there, to see how we’re going to use him in the game plan. I’m really excited about that.”
So far, the defensive front has been led by holdovers Quinton Jefferson (who had a monster first game) and Branden Jackson (who notched Seattle’s only sack against the Steelers), along with new veteran nose tackle Al Woods (four tackles against his former team).
Clowney’s debut was pretty impressive, considering he had barely practiced with the team before the opener against Cincinnati. He tallied a sack, tackle for loss, QB hit and deflected pass. He wasn’t quite as impactful against Pittsburgh’s stalwart line, with just a batted pass and a couple of tackles in 39 plays.
Collier, who missed the entire preseason with an ankle injury, didn’t do much more than get his feet wet in Pittsburgh (he played 28 percent of the snaps). “He was rusty,” Carroll said. “He’s getting going.”
Happily, Carroll wants to keep up the pace on offense. He said, “We’ve got to capture the tempo that we threw the ball with in the second half of that game. That’s what we really want with tempo: the ball out. Russ can do it, and we’ve just got to continue to make that happen with every aspect of the throwing game, as well as use him to bomb ya, like he’s so good at. … We need the whole spectrum.”
The Seahawks had 10 penalties for 93 yards in Pittsburgh. Carroll sang his usual refrain: Reducing penalties has been a focus and players just are not fixing it.
“In third-and-10 or less, we’re a good third-down team (57 percent),” he said. “But everything beyond that, we stink (0 for 10). … Those happen because of sacks or because of penalties; we’re getting third-and-15s and stuff. We have to clean that up.”
The NFL is focusing on holding penalties. They called six on the Hawks and 92 across the league in Week 2 — more than double the Week 2 total from 2018.
“The officials are trying to get the game cleaned up, and that’s why there are so many calls,” Carroll said. “I’m not griping one bit. I’m griping at our guys, and we have to get that fixed.”
Turnovers are another issue, especially Chris Carson’s three fumbles (though one was not his fault). “Chris is wild with the ball sometimes,” Carroll told 710 ESPN. “We’ll work to solve the problems. We can’t let that continue.”
On how his three standout linebackers are playing, Carroll said, “I feel like we’re just getting started. I feel like were just getting going on what we can do and how to utilize their strengths. … It’s more about the flow between those guys and how they can play off each other.”
The Hawks were in nickel a bit more against Cincinnati. Mychal Kendricks played 68 percent of the time in Pittsburgh after being on the field for 89 percent vs. the Bengals.
Nickel corner Jamar Taylor was solid in his first game, playing 33 percent of the snaps and helping prevent a TD catch by JuJu Smith-Schuster.
Brought back a day after being cut in the initial 53-man moves, Jaron Brown is off to a rough start. He has not been targeted in the first two games, even though he has played a ton. He was in for 58 plays in Pittsburgh, and his only stats were two blocking penalties. Malik Turner was in for just 16 snaps yet caught three passes. Carroll said Brown will be more involved — but that’s kind of hard to believe, with D.K. Metcalf off to such a strong start. It looks like Brown is guaranteed $1.5 million this season (the vested vet was on the roster in Week 1 after being re-signed), so there’s nothing to be saved by cutting him.
Carroll said winning in Pittsburgh set the tone for the rest of the road games. It showed young guys “how you do it. … We’ve got a format for how we’ll kick back into it when the time comes again.” The next 10 a.m. game is at Cleveland in Week 6.