I think I speak for everyone in Seattle, especially Chris Clemons, when I say the Redskins should be fined and then some for the field conditions on Sunday. If you told me they had a monster truck race there on Saturday, I wouldn’t even be the least bit surprised. The horrendous field conditions, in combination with what seemed like a harmless play led to the Seahawks’ best pass rusher, Chris Clemons, tearing his ACL.
He is now out for the rest of the post season, and could potentially miss a big chunk of next year too. At 31 years old, you also have to wonder how effective he’ll be once he does come back from this injury too.
Never mind next season, though; what does this mean for the Seahawks now? They lose their best pass rusher, and arguably one of the best in the game. Many are calling this loss huge, me not so much. Depth is becoming somewhat of an issue at this point, especially with Jason Jones having already been put on IR, but this loss is far from unmanageable. Especially against the Atlanta Falcons. That’s not to say losing Chris Clemons is a non factor, but this is a matchup that should play well to Bruce Irvin’s skill set anyways.
The 15th overall pick in the draft is second on Seattle for sacks, and leads all rookies with 8. He’s not as good as Clemons yet, but I don’t see a huge drop-off between the two. Different skill sets maybe. Whereas Clemons - although generally a pure pass rusher - has the ability to chip in with run defense, Irvin is about as one dimensional as it gets. That led to him only getting playing time on obvious passing downs, but did he ever take advantage of the few snaps he’d play. The good news, Atlanta doesn’t have a run game. Even better news, what little ground game the Falcons do have tends to run through the guards, and with Alan Branch playing as well as he is lately, good luck with that. Only 11% of Atlanta’s running plays are behind the left tackle and with the Falcons averaging under four yards a carry, I’m not seeing any reasons to get nervous about Irvin starting.
Where Irvin might actually be an upgrade is in the pass rush. If Atlanta is going to win this game, it’s going to be through the air. Matt Ryan absolutely destroys opposing defenses when he has time in the pocket. The Seahawks have the corners for man coverage on the outside, but if they don’t get help from the pass rush it could be a very long day. Bruce Irvin just might be the guy to help out. He’s arguably the fastest defensive end in the league, but can still work the bull rush quite well for someone his size. He just might have the speed to get to Matt Ryan, and maybe force some plays in the backfield. Lord knows, Seattle’s gonna need him to.