The Seahawks had some significant turnover on their defensive line this offseason, including the addition of four pass rushers via free agency and the draft.
But if Seattle's pass rush is going to improve upon a subpar performance in 2019, it will take more than just newcomers making their mark; returning players are also expecting to do their part by producing more, especially defensive tackle Jarran Reed.
Reed enjoyed a breakout 2018 season, recording 10.5 sacks and 24 quarterback hits, making him just the third interior lineman in franchise history to post a double-digit sack total along with Pro Football Hall of Famers Cortez Kennedy and John Randle. The following year, however, did not go according to plan for Reed. He started the year suspended for six games, then when he returned he was, by his own admission, trying too hard to make up for lost time. That, combined with the extra attention offenses tend to pay to a player coming off a 10.5-sack season, as well as a myriad of other factors, led to Reed producing just 2.0 sacks and eight quarterback hits in 2019.
Between that drop-off in production, as well as his desire to see the Seahawks advance further in the playoffs than they have since he was drafted in 2016, Reed re-signed with Seattle days before the start of free agency, saying he feels like he "had unfinished business here."
"It's a team sport, but I had personal goals I have myself that I didn't reach," Reed said. "And I just want to be more of a factor on the defense. I think we had a good shot to make it far in the playoffs last year—a great shot. And I just didn't want to leave on that note, especially the way the season went, especially the way it went for myself personally. I did not want to go out like that, basically with a bad taste in my mouth. So coming back here and getting another chance with a great group of guys, with a great team—I think we have a great team right now—I'm just excited. We got some great guys on the edge; that's key especially when you're rushing. The seasons' going to write itself starting on the 13th when we go to Atlanta."
As for what occurred last season, Reed said he wasn't going to use the time missed as an excuse, but did add, "I tried so hard not to over try, but when you come in late, you want to just be a factor to your team so much. And sometimes you've got to just let the game come to you without forcing it. I've just got a bounce back, that year's behind me now. That was then, I'm in just tremendously better shape than what I was. I'm ready to go. I'm ready to get this fresh start, start up the season with a clean slate. And I'm just excited for this season because I work really hard, and I'm not going let any of these guys down."
Reed's desire to get back to his 2018 level of production has less to do with showing other people that he can play at that level, and more to do with him wanting to help the defense live up to its potential. The Seahawks hope that the signing of Bruce Irvin and Benson Mayowa, and the selections of Darrell Taylor and Alton Robinson all help improve the pass rush, but coaches and Reed alike know that his ability to provide an interior rush can make a big difference.
"I'm not trying to go out there and impress anybody that's out there watching or anything, because I know what I'm capable of doing," he said. "But it's definitely key that I get back to that playmaking abilities that's still there, that never left. Nobody's perfect, no season is going to be perfect, and sometimes there's going to be a downfall, especially when you had so much production year before, you're going to be a little bit more keyed on. So now we've got guys around us that are going to make plays, and open up doors for everybody to make plays. And that's just the way it's going to go and I'm just ready to get to it."
Seahawks coach Pete Carroll has been saying throughout the offseason that, as much as the Seahawks might add via free agency and the draft, they're expecting an increase in production from Reed to also be a big factor.
"It's important that J-Reed comes back to the kind of production he had a couple years ago," Carroll said following the 2020 draft. "If he can have any type of production close to that, with what we're doing outside, it's going to be a nice mix. We should be really better than we've been. We're real positive about that."
As for the outside help the Seahawks brought in this offseason, as well as the development of young players expected to take on bigger roles such as L.J. Collier and Rasheem Green, Reed has been impressed by what he has seen so far from the line.
"It's been great this whole camp to see the young guys come along and learn and soak everything in," he said. "This is actually I think one of the best groups we had, as far as young guys as a whole. Everybody's come in in shape, come here ready to work, they're learning. We're going hard every day and I'm really excited to see how it's going to turn out."
Photos from the 14th practice of Seahawks 2020 Training Camp, held on Tuesday, September 1 at Renton's Virginia Mason Athletic Center. Seahawks Training Camp is presented by Safeway.