It seems Seattle Seahawks fans are concerned about the pass rush.
The Seahawks open training camp Thursday when they conduct their first practice at the Virginia Mason Athletic Center in Renton, and they do so with a number of questions surrounding the team. Therefore, this week’s Seattle Sidelines poll asked readers which issue they thought was the biggest facing Seattle entering training camp. Here’s how you voted:
POLL: What’s the biggest issue facing the Seahawks as training camp opens Thursday? Full context, including a closer look at some of the issues, here: https://t.co/9rWnPmtB5p
— Nick Patterson (@NickHPatterson) July 22, 2019
Add it all up and the pass rush is by far the biggest concern according to the voters, receiving 54 percent of the vote. Star linebacker Bobby Wagner’s contract situation came in a distant second at 23 percent, and receiver production received 14 percent. Nine percent of the voters said it was something else.
It’s understandable why Seahawks fans would be concerned about the pass rush. Seattle had 43 sacks last season, which tied for 11th in the NFL, so a solid total. However, a team-high 13 of those came from defensive end Frank Clark, who was traded to Kansas City during the offseason in a cost-saving move. So there are questions about what kind of pass rush Seattle will be able to generate off the edge this season without Clark leading the way.
Then on Tuesday the Seahawks’ pass rush took another hit when defensive tackle Jarran Reed was suspended six games by the NFL for violating the league’s personal conduct policy, stemming from an assault investigation in Bellevue in April of 2017. Reed had a tremendous season as an interior pass rusher in 2018, recording 10.5 sacks to finish second on the team. His absence for the start of the season is a big blow, and it’s unlikely the addition of veteran Earl Mitchell on Wednesday as a stopgap measure will fill the void.
On a positive note, reports Wednesday suggest defensive end Ezekiel Ansah, signed as a free agent during the offseason, is healthy enough to participate in training camp. Ansah was recovering from shoulder surgery to repair an injury that limited him to seven games last season. The former Detroit Lion had 14.5 sacks as he made the Pro Bowl in 2015, then recorded 12 sacks in 2017, so he has a track record of being able to get to the passer.
And the Seahawks are going to need Ansah to contribute. With Clark gone and Reed out, Seattle’s leading returning sack men from last season are Quinton Jefferson and Jacob Martin with three apiece. It’s hoped the team’s first-round draft pick, defensive end L.J. Collier, will help the pass rush, but he was more of an all-down defensive end rather than a pass-rush specialist at TCU.
All of which explains why the pass rush is at the forefront of Seahawks fans’ concerns.