Another fresh start for O’Brien Schofield

Posted Aug 16, 2014

One of the more impressive performances in the Seahawks’ impressive victory over the Chargers on Friday night was turned in by O’Brien Schofield, who wasn’t even supposed to be with the team this summer.

Asked about the play of O’Brien Schofield after Friday night’s preseason home opener, Seahawks coach Pete Carroll offered six words that pretty much said it all.

“He was all over the place,” Carroll said.

That was indeed the case in the 41-14 victory over the San Diego Chargers at CenturyLink Field, where the performance of Seahawks and their 12th Man fans was midseason despite this being only the second game of the preseason.

Schofield was credited with three tackles, including a sack and another tackle for a loss, as well as four quarterback hits. But even that impressive stat line doesn’t give enough credit for the disruption Schofield caused while playing as the Leo end in the base defense and one of the rush-ends in the nickel.

He was, well, as Carroll said, “All over the place.” 

But that description also sums up Schofield’s offseason following the Seahawks’ 2013 season that ended with the first Super Bowl championship in franchise history.

Schofield thought that he had cashed in on his success, and that of his team, by signing a lucrative deal with the New York Giants. But before he could sign the contract, Schofield was told the team had failed him on his physical, voiding the transaction, because he was forming arthritis in his left knee. That’s the same one in which he tore the ACL in 2010 while preparing for the Senior Bowl.

Other teams called, but Schofield was a man without a team until he re-signed with the Seahawks in May.

“I truly believe everything happens for a reason,” Schofield said in the locker room as Friday night was becoming Saturday morning. “I had a talk with coach Carroll and John (Schneider, the Seahawks’ GM) before I got back and I told them this year, for me, it wasn’t about the money. It was about an opportunity and I just wanted a fair chance to compete and show who I am.”

Friday night, Schofield went from displaced to all over the place while showing just what he can do. And it appeared he had an unfair advantage over anyone who given the chance to block him. When Schofield wasn’t hitting backup QB Kellen Clemens, he was pressuring him into moving off his spot and making his throws too quickly. Schofield’s sack came in the fourth quarter against No. 3 QB Brad Sorenson. But Schofield’s most-impressive play occurred in the third quarter, when he split a pair of blockers to drop running back Branden Oliver for a 2-yard loss.

“That’s the thing that’s special about this defense, I believe we all play off each other,” Schofield said. “Being at home with the 12s and just the momentum, it feels like practice. It’s something we work on all week and all I was trying to do is just be aggressive and be disruptive.”

He was all of that, and more, against the Chargers. But Schofield is still hungry for more.

“Since I’ve been in the league, I’ve been battling just to prove myself and just have the opportunity for someone to believe in me,” said Schofield, who was a fourth-round draft choice by the Arizona Cardinals in 2010. “I’m just working my tail off right now. The way I feel right now, I want to build on tonight and not let this be a one-time thing.

“It’s something that’s encouraging to me, and hopefully to my teammates and coaches.”

Last year, after the Seahawks claimed him off waivers from the Cardinals, Schofield played end and linebacker – and even started during the preseason and regular season. That’s because Chris Clemons, the since-departed starter at Leo end, was recovering from knee surgery; Cliff Avril, the current starter at Leo end, was limited in training camp and the preseason; and strong-side linebacker Bruce Irvin was serving a league-imposed four-game suspension.

This summer, Schofield is working predominantly at end, and has added 15 pounds to assist in that role. He had a tackle for a loss in the preseason-opening loss to the Broncos in Denver last week and, given more snaps against the Chargers, followed that with an even more productive outing on Friday night.

“O.B. is competing his tail off to make this football team and mark his mark here,” Carroll said. “It showed up last week and again this week. And he’s doing it every day in practice. So I’m really fired up for him.”

And Schofield is just as fired up.

“I came out and just played my heart out,” he said. “I really love this game. I really take this opportunity as a privilege. Just everything that happened to me this offseason made me reevaluate my career and what means the most to me.

“I told myself that whoever gave me the opportunity that I was going to do everything possible to put myself in a position for success.”

So far, so good? No, so far, better than good.