Exceeding Modest Expectations Does Not Make Chris Clemons a Capable Starter

Chris Clemons was in for eight snaps in the second half. It was more of the same save for one Alex Smith induced sack. I won't share all the gory details, as I'm a little strapped for time today, but let's discuss Clemons potential and his place on this team.

For the second straight season, Seattle is attempting to take a role player and turn him into a starter. Last season, it signed Colin Cole and turned him into a starting 1-tech tackle. Cole had been a situational run stuffer. He performed acceptably well in that capacity for Seattle. He wasn't gassed. He didn't suffer from greater snaps. Cole was a one-dimensional player that helped Seattle improve its run defense.

The problem was, Cole was a cipher as a pass rusher. He didn't collapse the pocket. He didn't disengage. He couldn't track or wrap a quarterback in space. Cole displayed the exact same skill set he always had, and Seattle was a worse team for starting him. It was down a pass rusher.

Clemons can rush the passer. He isn't terribly agile, but he is quick and when he can time the snap just right, he can edge rush pretty effectively. Against the 49ers, Clemons played mostly left defensive end, but occasionally rushed the middle out of a standing position. He shared this role with Jason Babin. It's not a demanding position. Right tackles are slower, less skilled and less agile. One does not have to be a terrific edge rusher to turn the corner and create some havoc - especially when it's your only job.

It's good that Seattle squeezed a little more value out of the Darryl Tapp trade than I assumed. It's good that Clemons has some talent and skill and, if he stays healthy, should be able to contribute. It's difficult to see how Clemons can capably man a starting end position. He's lanky and lean and Philadelphia used him almost exclusively on passing downs. He's raw in cover. Clemons is quick off the line and active, but he played 14 snaps with long rests between. Will he show that same quickness and fight after being pancaked on a run? And he will be. Clemons will suffer runs directed his way. Seattle will have a soft corner off left end.

I guess I'd rather the Seahawks attempt to harness a situational pass rusher than a situational run stuffer, but thrusting both into regular action seems like a formula for failure. Luckily, Clemons and Cole are just two players. The linebackers and strong safety can pick up some of the slack for runs directed at Clemons. Clemons can pick up some of the slack created by Cole's inability to rush the passer. There's no way this line will be good or even average. If anything, it will be a wonder if this configuration remains intact all season. It looks untenable. It won't cost Seattle the season, and it won't determine if Seattle has a capable defense or not. But with this line, capable is about as optimistic as my expectations can be.

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