By John Boyle Herald Writer
RENTON — However far the Seattle Seahawks are going to go in the playoffs, they’ll now have to get there without their best pass rusher.
Chris Clemons, who has led the Seahawks in sacks for three straight seasons, suffered a torn ACL and meniscus in his left knee during Sunday’s 24-14 win over Washington and will require surgery, ending his season and dealing a blow to Seattle’s defense.
“He will have to have surgery, so we’ll miss him,” Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll said. “It’s a big loss for us in a lot of ways. Chris has been a great football player, a symbol of consistency for the years we’ve had him, and he’s been a great leader for us too. … We’ll miss the heck out of him.”
Since coming to Seattle in a 2010 trade with the Eagles, Clemons has been Seattle’s most productive pass rusher, totaling 11 sacks in 2010 and 2011, and 11.5 this season. The Seahawks used their first-round pick in April’s draft on another pass rusher, Bruce Irvin, not to replace Clemons, but rather to supplement the pass rush, but now Irvin will have to take on a bigger role going forward.
“Bruce will step up and take a bunch of those snaps and we’ll work Greg Scuggs in there and other guys as we put the plan together,” Carroll said. “But this is Bruce’s opportunity, it’s what we drafted him to play, and we’ll see how he does. We expect him to do really well as he steps up.”
Irvin led NFL rookies with eight sacks this season, and added another in the fourth quarter Sunday after taking over Clemons’ role as the “Leo” defensive end in the Seahawks’ defensive scheme. Carroll said Irvin will take the majority of Clemons’ snaps going forward, and that players like Scruggs, as well as linebacker Mike Morgan and K.J. Wright, could also help supplement the pass rush.
Carroll also acknowledged that the Seahawks are checking out available free agents for potential help at defensive end.
“It’s possible, we’re looking,” Carroll said when asked if Seattle will sign a pass rusher. “(General manager John Schneider) is doing everything he can to figure out who’s available.”
Seahawks kicker Steven Hauschka suffered a calf strain in the game, making him a question mark for Seattle’s game in Atlanta. Carroll and the Seahawks will take a look at kickers today in case they need to replace Hauschka later in the week.
And between the injuries suffered by Clemons, Hauschka, and most notably Washington quarterback Robert Griffin III, there was a lot of talk Monday about the conditions of the playing surface at FedEx Field, the Redskins’ stadium in Landover, Md. Carroll made it clear during his press conference, as well as on his morning radio show on 710 ESPN Seattle, that he was not thrilled with the sloppy field conditions, but he stopped short of blaming that for Clemons’ knee injury.
“I don’t know that,” he said. “As he planted, there was a push on him by the offensive lineman that kind of hit simultaneous to when his foot planted and he got it caught. I don’t know that. The field was not great a turf to play on, there was a lot of loose footing out there, but I don’t know, I can’t tell you that.”
Moving forward, however, Carroll would not mind seeing the NFL do more to make sure playing surfaces late in the season are up to a higher standard.
“I think it should be as close to standard as possible,” he said. “It is cool that different stadiums have their own uniqueness about it, but there’s a point where it makes sense that it should be somewhat standardized so that it’s equal for everyone, and obviously safety is at the top of everyone’s mind in the league. So if there are ever issues, which I don’t know if that has anything to do with (the injuries that occurred Sunday), but I’m sure the league would want to take part in that.”
Bradley, Bevell draw interest
The Philadelphia Eagles announced last week that they had received permission to interview Seahawks defensive coordinator Gus Bradley for their vacant head coaching job, and according to multiple reports, offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell is a candidate for the open job in Chicago. Carroll acknowledged that the Seahawks have been contacted about both Bevell and Bradley, and said it won’t be a distraction having them interviewed for jobs because they won’t travel for interviews while the Seahawks are still playing.
“Both our guys are very aware of what we’re doing and what we’re in for here,” Carroll said. “Neither one of them are going to let this distract them and get in the way. There are very limited opportunities for any of that—they’re not going to travel and go places and run around and all that. In all due respect for what we’re after right now, it’s low on their list. Both those guys feel the same way about it. … We have a huge agenda to take care of, and they’re really into it. Nobody needs to worry about them running off and all that. They’re not going to do any of that. There will be very limited opportunity for those guys to be available. Everybody who’s contacted knows that.”
Herald Writer John Boyle: firstname.lastname@example.org.