We will run with the assumption that Seattle sticks with a strong side and a weak side end. Seattle's two primary Leo ends combined for 23 sacks and 48 hits in the regular and postseason. That's some production.
Nevertheless . . .
Starter: Chris Clemons
Backup: Raheem Brock (free agent)
Depth: Dexter Davis
Clemons had three career regular season starts prior to 2010. He now has 19. He had 62 tackles. Clemons now has 111. He was a pass rush specialist prior to signing with Seattle, but even his sack numbers jumped. Clemons had 20 sacks prior to the 2010 season. He now has 31.
Pete Carroll, and I think he deserves the most credit, found a diamond in the rough. Carroll saw something more in Clemons, allowed him to compete through camps, and awarded him a starter spot. The rest of us were left scratching our heads. Clemons was not just a career backup, he was a career backup with an extensive injury history. Counting on him to start 16 games seemed foolish, but he did. Clemons did and was easily among the Seahawks best defenders.
Good story, huh? And perhaps one of the more enduring stories of what was a fun, frustrating and memorable season. Now it's time to be cold and critical and evaluate the players for potential rather than past production.
Despite career best performances from Clemons and Brock, the Seahawks should look at Leo end as a need. It isn't just that career best performances are typically unsustainable, duh, or that Brock is no guarantee to return, or even that Clemons performance was so far out of line with the rest of his career. It is also that pass rushers often take time to develop, that Davis is the closest Seattle has to developmental talent, that the Seahawks like to use two Leo ends on passing downs, and that this scheme depends so much on the Leo or Leos to create pressure.
Clemons and Brock both produced in their way, but that production didn't add up to a good pass defense. That does not mean Clemons or Brock is at fault, or even that the Leo concept is faulty. But whether Seattle wants to build from the scheme it adopted in 2009 and honed through 2010, or build away from it and towards a more typical approach to the 4-3, it needs ends. It needs ends that are young, can develop and can be counted on for seasons to come.