Week 11 – What to Watch: The Front 7

By Kevin Garber

 

With Brandon Mebane’s injury, linebacker health in flux, and the story that has been the Seahawks pass rush this year, I feel like a quality game day can be spend watching the front seven of the Seahawks this week. We’ll take a look position group by position group:

 

Interior Linemen:

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(All efficiency ratings in this article are from Pro Football Focus)

Player

Snaps

Run Defense Rating

Pass Rush Rating

Pass Coverage Rating

Tackles

QB Hurries

Kevin Williams

241

-0.7

-1.7

0

13

6

Tony McDaniel

222

1.7

-2.7

-0.5

10

4

Jordan Hill

181

-1.4

0.1

-0.5

4

5

Gregg Scruggs

68

-0.2

-0.4

-0.5

2

3

 

The missing player from this equation is Brandon Mebane, who was by far the best of the bunch and could be generously included in a top 10 Defensive Tackles conversation. Kevin Williams is probably better than his ratings indicate, and is effective against both the run and pass, but is just not the dominant interior force he once was. Tony McDaniel is a quality run stuffer and a useful man in rotation, but his snaps will be increasing and it remains to be seen if that is good for the team.

 

Jordan Hill is without a doubt that man we’ll be looking to see step up, and at time has flashed great potential, but it is hard to know quite what you have with him. He has a bit of a set of rush moves, which could help out, but he would unfortunately benefit most from a player like Mebane next to him to demand the double team.

 

Outside Linemen:

2012-09-24 Seahawks vs. Packers MNF

 

Player

Snaps

Run Defense Rating

Pass Rush Rating

Pass Coverage Rating

Solo

Tackles

QB Hurries

Michael Bennett

493

9.6

14.5

0.5

15

31

Cliff Avril

419

2.3

10.5

-1

9

27

O’Brien Schofield

225

-1.2

-1.6

1

9

4

 

Something you will notice here right off the bat is the very small number of people playing significant snaps at defensive end this season. The other thing you will notice is that Bennett and Avril are really good. Among 4-3 defensive ends both are among the 5 or so best at putting pressure on the QB. This is beneficial, because it becomes thin and of debatable effectiveness after them, with O’Brien Schofield the only player logging significant playing time behind them,and doing so at a less than exemplary level.

 

Bruce Irvin logged some early time at DE this season, but with injuries and scheme shift has seem his snap count increase as a linebacker. However, with a thin line it is possible we could see more of Irvin with his hand on the ground over the second half of the season.

 

Linebackers:

New England Patriots v Seattle Seahawks

 

Player

Snaps

Run Defense Rating

Pass Rush Rating

Pass Coverage Rating

Tackles

QB Hurries

KJ Wright

560

4.4

-0.4

-1

61

2

Bobby Wagner

327

3.4

1.3

4

30

2

Bruce Irvin

350

4.6

0.7

4.2

10

12

Malcolm Smith

211

-0.3

-0.6

-4.3

23

1

Kevin Pierre-Louis

80

-1.1

-0.9

2.8

8

4

Brock Coyle

59

-2.4

0

-3.4

4

0

Michael Morgan

27

-1.5

-0.4

-0.2

4

0

 

Wow, I really miss having Bobby Wagner in there every week. Anyone who watches a game knows the man is a tackling machine, and the stats show it well. He has turned into a very well rounded linebacker that allows a lot of the rest of our defense to play their games. KJ Wright is solid all around and good against the run. Occasionally he gets victimized in the passing game, but with a healthy defense we can scheme to stash him well.

 

Malcolm Smith has been awful this year. Really, is shouldn’t have been a surprise since he was never a great player to begin with. But really he has been one of the 10 worst 4-3 outside linebackers to play more than 25% of their team’s snaps. Thankfully, Bruce Irvin stepping up since the Panthers game and KPL emerging as a BetterThanCoyle option has freed us up for a really good linebacking rotation.

To talk quickly about Coyle, I am not saying he is a terrible player. What I mean to say here is the Coyle is the type of depth player good teams have to fill in when necessary and give more talented players a breather. KPL on the other hand is the kind of linebacker that the Seahawks have thrived on developing the last few years. He is the kind of player that makes the aforementioned Malcolm Smith very expendable this off-season.

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