For Pete Carroll this offseason the idea was simple – add more speed to the team’s pass rush to create more sack opportunities, similar to the way New York Giants defensive coordinator Perry Fewell drew up his NASCAR package with four defensive ends on third down, Jason Pierre-Paul, Osi Umenyiora, Justin Tuck and Mathias Kiwanuka
As pointed out by Pat Kirwan in this article for CBS Sports I linked to yesterday, the Seahawks struggled to get pressure on the passer on third downs with just 12 sacks last season, fourth-worst in the league.
With big bodies like Red Bryant, Brandon Mebane and Alan Branch, the Seahawks have been effective stopping the run the past two years. But they need to give defensive end Chris Clemons some help on passing downs.
The Seahawks believe they have done that by adding Jason Jones in free agency, and drafting Bruce Irvin, Jaye Howard and Greg Scruggs to rush the passer in obvious throwing situations.
Those young players combine with guys already on the roster like Dexter Davis, Jameson Konz and Pierre Allen to give Seattle several options to bring off the edge.
Add to that mix athletic linebackers like K.J. Wright, Leroy Hill, Korey Toomer and Bobby Wagner rushing in blitzing situations, and Seattle defensive coordinator Gus Bradley has an arsenal of new weapons to scheme with in passing situations moving forward.
“We’ve got first and second down players that can rush the passer a little bit,” Seattle defensive line coach Todd Wash said. “Not very many people can run the ball on our first unit. But we went into the draft with an idea that we’ve got to increase our pass rush on first down. And we’ll see if we did it or not.”
Even though many believed Irvin was a reach in the draft, Carroll said he’s already seen enough in the first three days of rookie minicamp to confirm the feeling that his team made the right decision of selecting him in the first round.
“He’s just what we thought he was,” Carroll said. “He’s very, very fast. He’s very instinctive. I think now that we’ve had him in the meeting rooms and watched him learn and pick stuff up and ask questions, and ask good questions and then be able to apply the stuff on the field, he’s going to be able to come in and help us immediately.
“That’s all you could probably hope for in your number one. How far he can take it, I don’t know. But he’s definitely going to be a guy that we’re going to find ways to use him and it’s really going to fit in the pattern that we had thought.”
Wash said a key to Irvin’s development will be closely monitoring his transition to the NFL, and not giving the West Virginia product too much too soon.
“We’re not going to give him a million things to do,” Wash said. “It’s a situation where we’ve had some rookies before in the past where I’ve been, and we tried to do everything with them – teach them every little thing there is in the book. And all of sudden they start playing slow, and you’re going, ‘Where’s that athlete that we’ve seen on tape?’
“So we’re going to get it to where he can play fast. And we’re going to teach him as much as we can as we go along. But once we get to a point where maybe he’s not playing as fast as should be, then obviously we’ve got to back up and let him be able to take it on as he can.”