If there is hopefulness in life without Richard Sherman, perhaps we can find it in reviewing life without Cliff Avril. Though Sherman is more well-known, well-regarded as an elite player, and arguably more valuable, Avril has still be an extremely important player to the Seattle Seahawks over the previous four seasons. And we know that the value difference between him and Sherman is at least fairly close, with Avril often being the best player on the field when Seattle’s on defense.
Yet the Seahawks are doing more than just surviving without him, in large thanks due to their defensive end finds in the process.
While Dwight Freeney was quiet in Thursday’s 22-16 win over the Arizona Cardinals, he had three sacks in his first two games and played in 41 snaps this week. He looks to be an important presence in the locker room and on the defense over the next two months. But he’s not alone. The most interesting debut of the year, perhaps for any team, came with Dion Jordan ending a playing drought that has lasted over 1,000 days.
The former Miami Dolphins/third overall pick played in a surprising 33 snaps on defense, with Frank Clark getting injured (of course) during the game and playing in 30 snaps. Jordan also outpaced Branden Jackson, who played in 25 snaps and has also been a surprisingly good find even if he has zero sacks in five games. Jackson has still gone above and beyond his expected value as a late September signing that almost nobody reported or thought twice about. He’s had some great games in terms of pressures/snap and Jordan was no different in that regard on Thursday.
According to ProFootballFocus’s tracking stats, Jordan had five pressures on 25 second half snaps, including a sack, two hits, and two hurries. He pressure rate of 29.4% is the best of his short, troubled career. Watch him will his way to his first sack in three years:
Damn Dion Jordan... showing strength on this bullrush to get a sack. #Seahawks #SEAvsAZ The guy has such great talent, but he never got it together and had some key injuries. pic.twitter.com/1CjTKjzJSR— Samuel Gold (@SamuelRGold) November 10, 2017
We envisioned a fearsome threesome with Michael Bennett, Avril, and Clark. Instead, we are seeing a potential DE group of Bennett, Clark, Freeney, Jordan, and Jackson, plus Quinton Jefferson and Marcus Smith potentially waiting in the wings but inactive on Thursday.
That’s not nearly as desperate as it may have looked before the season if you knew that the team was going to lose Avril. Hopefully we’ll see that same thing happen in the secondary.
More PFF Stats:
- Justin Britt had his fourth game of the season with zero pressures allowed. In a year and a half, Britt has gone from a guard or tackle who looked halfway done with his career to a center who may have more than a decade of playing in front of him and is getting the same APY as Alex Mack.
- Overall, the Seahawks allowed six pressures on 39 dropbacks, which is a surprising revelation since Russell Wilson was sacked five times and had that ridiculous pass to Doug Baldwin. Is it really just six? If so, two of those were on Germain Ifedi, including a sack allowed; PFF says this is the first sack allowed on the season for Ifedi, though he’s the most penalized player in the NFL and clearly not excelling.
- When throwing in 2.5 seconds or less, Wilson was 14-of-18, two touchdowns, and a rating of 123.8. It seems there is some advancement in Wilson’s pocket game now that Pete Carroll is clearly leaning on him as a 40 att/game QB. He was 6-of-7 on play action.
- Baldwin caught all five of his targets, gaining 95 yards, and doing so against four different Cardinals defenders on those five catches.
- Seattle rushed for 75 yards, with 44 yards coming after contact. Thomas Rawls had 23 of his 27 rushing yards on one carry, giving him four yards gained on the other nine attempts.
- K.J. Wright doesn’t get as much attention as most of his starting defensive teammates, but he had five run stops and was excellent in coverage on Thursday, allowing a rating of 71.8 on 11 pass attempts towards him.
- DPOY candidate Bobby Wagner had five stops, giving him a run stop percentage of 12.5%, which ranks first in the NFL for all middle linebackers, per PFF. He does not have a missed tackles in any of his last four games. Wagner has 83 tackles, 1.5 sacks, five batted passes, one interceptions, two fumble recoveries, a forced fumble, and a safety on the year.
- PFF notes that Richard Sherman has allowed a passer rating of 53.0 since entering the league in 2011 — the best mark of any corner during that time. He was just as effective on Thursday before tearing his Achilles. Get well soon.
- Good news: Shaquill Griffin allowed one catch on nine targets, going for 16 yards. He was also tagged with a DPI and Arizona receivers dropped two passes thrown their way against Griffin, including a potential touchdown. He now assumes the role of being the best cornerback in the Seahawks secondary, a significant responsibility for a rookie, but he could overcome the odds and he’s shown a lot of promise. We also don’t know yet what potential veteran or out-of-nowhere signing could step up and fill that void at corner, just like Jordan and Freeney have proven to do so far at another key spot.