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Lacking conventional pass rush, Seahawks enlist their sacksy linebackers

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And why not, with Bobby Wagner, K.J. Wright and Mychal Kendricks?

NFL: Preseason-Seattle Seahawks at Los Angeles Chargers
wagner in the backfield! wagner in the backfield!
Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

Between all the debate about which positions matter and which don’t (simplifying for all of our sakes), let us agree on one piece of common ground: sacks matter.

It doesn’t matter who provides them — it matters that they wreck drives, keep points off the board, and make your fans channel primordial, deep-seated emotions best expressed by grunts.

With all eyes on the Seattle Seahawks’ depleted DE group this preseason, coaches coaxed some big pressure plays out of the next line of defense in Week 3. Multiple Bobby Wagner blitzes in the first quarter, pushing Tyrod Taylor out of the pocket? Yes, please. Mychal Kendricks getting home, not letting Taylor do his best Russell Wilson maneuvers? Don’t mind if we do.

Can you blame Ken Norton and Pete Carroll, though? They can look up career sack numbers on pro-football-reference just as well as the rest of us.

Career sacks, currently healthy Seahawk DEs

Cassius Marsh, 11.5

Jacob Martin, 3

Branden Jackson, 1.5

Rasheem Green, 1

Those are career totals. 17 sacks doesn’t exactly scream “consistent pressure.” Of course, Ziggy Ansah and L.J. Collier exist, but until one of them plays a down this year, it’s wishful thinking to count on them for sure.

Matty Brown is thankfully here to explain the Xs and Os behind what Norton’s calling.

With two linebackers flooding the line of scrimmage and hopefully the backfield, there’s a chance one will get home, if the personnel is good.

Spoiler: the Seahawks’ LB room is better than good. When you have the explosiveness of Wagner and Kendricks, the lateral coverage ability of K.J. Wright, any three-linebacker set is going to allow you to deploy them creatively. With all of them experienced in coverage, you don’t have to sit them behind the defensive line. You can be much more proactive. Possibly in a way that might cover up for an inexperienced, and maybe inferior, group of pass rushers up front.

Kendricks has an uncertain season ahead, with well-documented legal challenges ahead that could threaten part of his season. But while he’s on the active roster, it’s only fair that he receive his due for a trifecta of playmaking. First, the sack from up top, then a coverage play, then a tackle for loss on fourth down and one.

As far as this observer could tell, Seattle’s defense didn’t return much to Strong Smash Sky Zone — badass name, by the way — in the second half. But in a preseason game, it’s to be expected a team won’t give away its hand completely.