clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Preseason Preview: Chris Clemons and the Leo Package

Simple one here and one that should be immediately discernible.

Is Pete Carroll's 4-3 Leo package tenable, or as ludicrous and structurally unsound as the worst of the West Coast Defense?

Seattle has three big bodies on the line. It hopes to create some kind of pressure from Brandon Mebane and Red Bryant. Mebane and Bryant will rush the ball carrier on nearly every snap. And I love those two guys, and I am even warming to the notion of Bryant at end, but that is lousy foundation for a pass rush.

Seattle has four smaller, quicker, more agile players standing. One is a "Leo" which is nothing more than a defensive end that stands. The starting Leo is Chris Clemons, and ignoring from the ludicrous assertion that because Clemons is a nominal starter and Darryl Tapp is a backup on a much more talented defensive line, that Seattle has won or is winning the trade, the Clemons experiment is ongoing and no more or less promising today than it was in March. He can be competent and that is be awesome -- better than I originally expected. He could be overmatched, overworked, eventually injured and an insurmountable liability.

The best case scenario is that Seattle is not reliant on Clemons for the core of its pass rush. That it creates pass rush through its defensive backs and linebackers, especially Aaron Curry, and that though Clemons is the starting defense's one and only primary pass rusher, if and when he falters, the pass rush is not entirely screwed.

Apart from pass rush, we shall see if Clemons is anything but a woeful mess in run support. I can almost tolerate the notion that he will be bad as a run defender if he can generate sufficient pass rush, but since I think the latter is somewhat unlikely, having Clemons be both cipher as a pass rusher and doormat as a run defender would be intolerable. It would almost necessitate a scheme switch.

Nick Reed dominated the 2009 preseason. It's not enough that Clemons can show up on Saturday, but it would be a nice start. It isn't conclusive but it is meaningful. It would, at least, make the lying to myself less preposterous. Prove to me this package can work, with the personnel assembled, even if it is against inferior competition, and Pete Carroll will have assuaged this doubter.

For now.