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Player Sketches from Seahawks-Titans: Chris Clemons

Clemons has better closing speed than Tapp and that should help turn some pressures and hits into sacks.
Clemons has better closing speed than Tapp and that should help turn some pressures and hits into sacks.

Too much can be made of Chris Clemons performance against the Titans. Too much can be read into and too much can be extrapolated from what I thought was a mostly underwhelming performance.

The play people remember above all is Clemons inside move on Michael Roos and sack of Chris Simms. Simms is a certifiable sack machine, but this wasn't a cheapy. Clemons owned Roos. What is harder to determine is why did Roos look so freakin' bad? And he did. On a later play, Red Bryant used an arm over to attack him on the inside and pressure Simms out of the pocket. Neither Clemons' nor Bryant's moves were special by any stretch, but both lost Roos, allowed quick separation and a free run to the quarterback.

Players are not static. Roos made the Pro Bowl in 2008 and was an alternate in 2009. He's been good. Just 27, you wouldn't expect him to decline. Since we're discussing the preseason, I wouldn't suggest this is as a sure sign of decline. But when Clemons started out and moved in, Roos planted as if to mirror, planted his right foot to set and block Clemons on the inside, and then lost his balance and doubled over left. Left guard Leroy Harris was busy doubling Brandon Mebane and the space between Roos and Harris was easy enough for Clemons to sprint through. And that was the play. Clemons didn't bull Roos back or beat him to the edge or chop his arms and explode to the inside. He started somewhat wide, moved in and Roos just didn't follow. Roos didn't even chase him. He just stood where he was beaten as Clemons popped his quarterback.

Who knows why a player can look so good for so long and then in one instant or for one game be spanked by pedestrian moves from unproven pass rushers, but that is how I would summarize the game for Roos. I would guess, and I would guess a large part of why football is so unpredictable, is that players are not "injured" or "not injured" but in some constant state of flux between those two extremes. Not that I think Roos is injured, but maybe he's just no in "game shape" or whatever.


After a lot of off season talk about stand up ends, Seattle's ends mostly played out of the three point. Clemons was just a regular old end, except that instead of playing right or left, he shifted sides to correspond with the offensive weak side. The Titans regularly put a tight end in motion to counter Clemons. That is part of the problem with dedicating a player to the weak side: An offense can shift its strong side and weak side much more readily than a defense can respond. Clemons isn't going to sprint to the other side of the line every time a tight end is shifted to his side. If he ever warrants the attention, I do not think Clemons will fight off a tackle and a tight end.

The major difference I see between Clemons and Darryl Tapp as pass rushers is that when a play breaks down, Clemons has much better range to fight back into the action. He is lighter and quicker and that allowed him to pressure Simms and chase Vince Young. Young had little trouble running away from Clemons, but Young is the quickest starting quarterback in the NFL. Clemons should fare better against Sam Bradford. In fact, Bradford is the ideal mix of panicky and pocket blind for Clemons to feast on. Maybe Alex Smith, too.

I can't help but give this performance a big fat "I". I didn't see Clemons get rag-dolled too terribly bad as a run stuffer. That's good. The sack was good, even though I can't quite tell how he schooled Roos so completely. Clemons did not generate a lot of quick pressure, but he did contribute on broken plays. For the most part, the Seahawks defense did not look good so much as Chris Simms looked very bad.