Carroll goes back to roots on defense

Like it or not, Seattle seems to be standing pat with the pass rushers it has.

You can hold out all you want for the Seahawks to re-sign Jadeveon Clowney or trade for Yannick Ngakoue. But, if they were not interested in signing Everson Griffen for $6 million (what Dallas paid him), they are obviously content to go with what they have: Bruce Irvin, Benson Mayowa, Rasheem Green, L.J. Collier, Darrell Taylor and Alton Robinson.

Instead, Pete Carroll is going back to his roots and building his defense from the back. And he would rather pay All-Pro safety Jamal Adams than Ngakoue or Clowney or even the cheap Griffen — perhaps partly because he expects Adams to sack the quarterback.

This is how Carroll’s first Super Bowl squad was built. He coached up first-round safety (Earl Thomas) and developed mid-round picks Richard Sherman and Kam Chancellor to create the Legion of Boom. And, with the help of young Russell Wilson, they led Seattle to two Super Bowls – the second lost largely because the LOB was battered too pieces by that point in the season. As the LOB went, so did the Seahawks in 2012-17.

The Seahawks have made the playoffs the past two years, but they have not been strong enough to advance far – mainly due to the defense.

The Seahawks tied for the second-fewest sacks (28) in the NFL last season, a big reason they gave up the sixth-most passing yards (264 per game). The 28 sacks were the fewest Seattle has had in the Carroll era. The past two years — with the LOB, Cliff Avril and Michael Bennett gone – the Hawks have given up 65 and 64 percent passing, the most in the Carroll era. Opponent passer ratings the past two years also are the highest (along with 2010) in Carroll’s time. And they have given up more TD passes the past two years — – 26 in 2018, 19 in 2019 — than any season but 2010 (31).

Carroll wanted to show he could coach up a new secondary after 2017, with Bradley McDougald the veteran mentor for Tedric Thompson, Lano Hill and Marquise Blair and young Tre Flowers opposite the only standout draft pick of the bunch, Shaquill Griffin.

But that didn’t work out very well. Thompson and Hill were not Thomas and Chancellor, so Carroll – short on time as his career winds down — decided to import a star secondary. Adams is the third starter Seattle has added via trade in the back end since last year. Along with Quinton Dunbar (who needs to pick his friends better and stop gambling), Quandre Diggs and Adams are expected to join Griffin as the top four. Flowers and Blair will be the top two subs.

Meanwhile, Carroll and John Schneider are trying the same cheap approach to the pass rush that they managed in 2013, when they somehow finagled both Avril and Bennett. The problem is Irvin and Mayowa, who both played with Avril and Bennett for a bit when they were younger, are not of that caliber. And the Hawks’ recent draft picks at end – Collier, Taylor, Robinson – are totally unproven (Green had a fair 2019 season, but can he do much more?). Taylor, recovering from leg surgery, could be headed toward the same sort of redshirt that Green and Collier had.

They obviously are counting on Green, Collier, Taylor and Robinson to be their future pass rushers – hoping one will become the next Frank Clark. It’s a tall order, and no one is really confident those guys will offer much in 2020 – though Taylor looks to have a good shot at being Clark redux in 2021 and beyond.

Carroll clearly is putting all his money on his new star-studded secondary to lead the way, with ace but aging linebackers Bobby Wagner and K.J. Wright bridging the two position groups.

One thought in adding Adams seems to have been the idea that he will help them via the blitz. He had 6.5 sacks last year, and Irvin says he gets two a day in practice and could end up with eight or nine. That would help make him worth the price they paid and make up a bit for not adding a premier pass rusher.

Seattle spent HUGE on Adams, giving up two first-rounders, a third and McDougald (and getting a fourth back). The Hawks will have to spend HUGE again next year, paying him $15 million a year. (If they don’t, those picks will have been wasted and Schneider will look like a total idiot.)

Will Schneider pay Griffin and Diggs, too, as he once paid the Legion of Boom? He has passed on every chance to pay a pass rusher and Tyler Lockett is the only offensive player who will be up for a big extension in 2021, so where else is Schneider going to spend the money?

They’re basically all-in on Adams, and they might as well be on Griffin and Diggs, too — just like they were with the Legion of Boom.


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