Providing some inside pass rush

Posted Mar 17, 2012

One of coach Pete Carroll’s priorities this offseason was to improve the Seahawks’ pass rush, especially from the interior of the line. Jason Jones agreeing to terms on Saturday should do just that.

One of Pete Carroll’s goals entering the offseason was to increase a Seahawks pass rush that produced 33 sacks last season.

Not just off the edge, where “Leo” end Chris Clemons had 11 sacks to lead the team for the second consecutive season, but from the interior, as well. Enter Jason Jones, a free-agent defensive tackle from the Tennessee Titans who agreed to terms with the Seahawks on Saturday.

Jones, who visited Virginia Mason Athletic Center on Thursday, is the first free agent from another team to agree to join the Seahawks since the free-agency period began on Tuesday.

A closer look at the Seahawks’ pass rush last season gives an even better indication why Jones was one of the first free agents the club looked at. While Clemons had 11 sacks, the other linemen combined to produce 10.

“It’s a big deal,” Carroll said of wanting to improve the pass rush. “It’s an area of our football team these last two years where it’s not what we need it to be. We’re a Top 10 defense in the NFL right now and we’re still not rushing the passer the way we want to.

Free agent tracker

A look at the Seahawks’ free-agent activity:

Players agreed/signed from other teams
DT Jason Jones (Titans)

Seahawks players re-signed/agreed
RB Marshawn Lynch
OT Breno Giacomini
DE Red Bryant
LB Heath Farwell
OL Paul McQuistan
FB Michael Robinson

Seahawks players signed/agreed with other teams
TE John Carlson (Vikings)
OL Mike Gibson (Eagles)
QB Charlie Whitehurst (Chargers)
S Atari Bigby (Chargers)

“So we’re going to work hard to find that in the draft and in free agency. That’s an area that really needs to improve for us to take another step.”

Then he added the assessment that led the team to Jones: “We need to find pass rushing inside.”

Jones, who will turn 26 in May, produced 15.5 sacks for the Titans – including a career-high five as a rookie in 2008, when Tennessee selected him in the second round of the NFL Draft. But Jones also had four in 2009, in just seven games before being placed on injured reserve with a shoulder problem; as well as 3.5 sacks and 26 QB pressures in 2010 and three sacks last season.

The 6-foot-5, 276-pound Jones moved into the starting lineup in 2010 and produced a career-high 39 tackles and three of the seven forced fumbles in his career. He had 27 tackles last season.

Alan Branch had three sacks last season to lead the Seahawks’ interior linemen. The last tackle to produce more than five in a season was Brandon Mebane, who had 5.5 in 2009.

So Jones definitely fills a need. He also was being pursued by the St. Louis Rams, who agreed to terms with former Miami Dolphins defensive tackle Kendall Langford on Saturday; and the Titans.

Jones also has the versatility that the Seahawks like in their linemen because he can slide outside to end, which he did with the Titans last season after playing primarily at tackle during his first three seasons.

As Tennessee coach Mike Munchak told the Tennessean before free agency started, “We feel he’s at his best, and I’m sure he thinks so, at the three technique (tackle) when it comes to rushing the passer. Now when it comes to all the other things, I think there may be some merit to him playing at defensive end. So I think we did a pretty good job of him playing a little bit of both.”

Asked at end of last season if the position switch had been a good one, Jones said, “If you look at it stat-wise (for me), probably not. But overall, it was a sacrifice for the team.”

One that ultimately led Jones to his new team – the Seahawks.