Wednesday in Hawkville: Examining a new wrinkle to the pass-rush

Posted Sep 25, 2013

The Seahawks unleashed a new nickel line against the Jaguars on Sunday that featured Chris Clemons, Cliff Avril and Michael Bennett, but also O’Brien Schofield in the role of window-shopper.

A recap of the activities at Virginia Mason Athletic Center for Sept. 25, when the Seahawks began practicing for Sunday’s game against the Texans in Houston:


It appeared at times during Sunday’s game against the Jacksonville Jaguars that O’Brien Schofield was doing just that when the Seahawks were in their nickel defense, as he would walk along the line and then dart through a gap as the ball was snapped.

It felt that way at times, too, as defensive coordinator Dan Quinn and line coach Travis Jones added yet another wrinkle to the diverse fronts that have helped the defense rank No. 1 in the NFL in points allowed, as well as average yards and average passing yards allowed, after three games.

“There are certain plays were I am just looking for a place to go,” Schofield said in the locker room before the team’s first practice to prepare for this week’s game against the Texans in Houston. “And then there are some where I’m a decoy, and there are some where I’m trying to change the protection. Whatever my role has to be, it’s just fun to be out there on that field with those guys.”

In that version of the nickel line, those guys would be Chris Clemons and Cliff Avril at the ends and Michael Bennett as the nose tackle.

“When you’ve got guys like Clem and Cliff and Mike B. on that package, I mean the standard is high,” Schofield said.

That is a whole lot of pass-rush talent on the field at the same time. Clemons, who was making his 2013 debut following knee surgery in January, has 33.5 sacks the past three seasons. Avril, a free-agent addition who was playing in his second game and making his first start for the Seahawks after being sidelined by a hamstring injury, had 30 sacks the past three seasons for the Detroit Lions. Bennett, another free-agent signing, had nine sacks last season for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and leads the Seahawk this season with 2.5

“We have so much talent on this team, so many guys versatile guys that can play so many different positions, our defensive coaches have to have fun with it as far as putting together packages,” Schofield said. “When you’ve got pass-rush specialist, guys that have proven they can get sacks and get pressure, it makes your job so much easier.

“When you can rush as a group, that’s when it gets vicious. But when you see certain teams or certain systems were you’ve got one good pass-rusher and everyone else is OK, you don’t see a camaraderie of guys getting after the quarterback. Playing us, you don’t know who’s going to hit you. You don’t know who’s going to win. That’s how we rush.”


The first report of the week, as issued by the team:


“He’s a star player. He’s tenacious. He works hard. He’s long. He creates a lot of issues. So he’s definitely someone we have to account for and make sure that he doesn’t wreck the whole day for us.”

Offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell on Texans defensive end J.J. Watt

Did not practice
DL Michael Bennett (groin)
DE Red Bryant (back)
OT Breno Giacomini (knee)
SS Jeron Johnson (hamstring)
WR Jermaine Kearse (ankle)
RB Marshawn Lynch (not injury related)
C Max Unger (arm)
RB Spencer Ware (ankle)

Limited in practice
OG J.R. Sweezy (back)
DT Jordan Hill (biceps)

Full participation
CB Brandon Browner (hamstring)
LB Malcolm Smith (hamstring)

Coach Pete Carroll discussed most of the injuries during his mid-week Q&A session with reporters before practice and Tony Drovetto provides the details.

For the Texans:

Did not practice
LB Tim Dobbins (hamstring)
CN Kareem Jackson (illness)
WR Andre Johnson (shin)
CB Johnathan Joseph (toe)
LB Darryl Sharpton (hip, foot)
OG Wade Smith (knee)


“Their overall effort and speed and the way they rallied to the football; big, big challenge for us.”

Texans coach Gary Kubiak on what jumps out about the Seahawks’ defense

Limited in practice
OT Duane Brown (toe)
TE Owen Daniels (not injury related)
TE Garrett Graham (hip, groin)
FS Ed Reed (hip)

Full participation
LB Brian Cushing (knee, ankle)
RB Arian Foster (thumb)
CB Brice McCain (knee)
C Chris Myers (back)
OT Derek Newton (knee, calf)
WR DeVier Posey (Achilles)
QB Matt Schaub (ankle)
RB Ben Tate (shoulder)

Brown did not play last week and remains day-to-day for this week, Texans coach Gary Kubiak said. Brown was replaced by Ryan Harris against the Ravens.


Former Green Bay Packers and Jacksonville Jaguars center Jason Spitz has been signed to fill the spot on the 53-man roster that opened when the team released D’Anthony Smith yesterday.


The Seahawks have allowed a league-low 27 points during their 3-0 start, which also is the second- fewest yielded after three games in franchise history:

Year Points Allowed
2004 13
2013 27
1998 28
2003 33
2012 39

The 6-foot-3, 298-pound Spitz was a third-round draft choice by the Packers in 2006 and was with the Jaguars the past two seasons. He spent last season on injured reserve and was released by the Jaguars in August. Spitz has started 45 games in his seven-season NFL career.

Also, wide receiver Bryan Walters, who was released Saturday, and defensive tackle Sealver Siliga, who was released Sept. 17, have been re-signed to the practice squad. To clear a spot for Siliga on the eight-man unit, defensive end Adewale Ojomo was released. His signing coincided with Siliga’s release. The spot that opened when Walters was released was not filled over the weekend.


With Unger and Giacomini sitting out and Okung watching practice from the sideline, Sweezy was the only starter at the spot he’s supposed to be starting at, and even he was limited.

Paul McQuistan, the left guard, continues to replace Okung at left tackle; with James Carpenter continuing to replace McQuistan at left guard. Lemuel Jeanpierre was working at center with the No. 1 line for Unger and rookie Michael Bowie was at right tackle for Giacomini.

The No. 2 line was comprised of – from left tackle to right – the practice-squad duo of rookies Ryan Seymour and Jared Smith on the left side; Spitz at center; and also just-signed Caylin Hauptmann and rookie Alvin Bailey on the right side.


Shiloh Keo played at Woodinville and Archbishop Murphy (Everett) high schools before going to the University of Idaho. The third-year safety, a fifth-round draft choice in 2011, started the first two games at free safety for the Texans when Ed Reed was sidelined. Now that Reed is back, Keo still plays in the dime package and on special teams.

“Keo is much improved,” Kubiak said Wednesday during a conference-call interview. “He operated as the starter the first two weeks; got an opportunity and I think took advantage of it. I think he proved he’s very capable of that. … He’s just a very clean, good draft choice for us that I think has a bright future. Being able to show that he could handle starting those first two weeks I think adds to his future.”


The players will practice again on Thursday, which is “Turnover Thursday” on the Carroll calendar. We touched on the importance that turnovers have had to the team’s success under Carroll on Tuesday.

The team will leave for Houston after practice on Friday. This is the first of back-to-back road games for the Seahawks, who will travel to Indianapolis next week to the play the Colts. The Seahawks also have back-to-back road games in Weeks 7 and 8 – at Arizona and St. Louis in nationally televised games against the Cardinals (Thursday night, Oct. 17) and Rams (Monday night, Oct. 28); and in Weeks 14 and 15 – at San Francisco (Dec. 8) and at the New York Giants (Dec. 15).