Grading the Seattle Seahawks defensive line

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When it comes to the Seattle Seahawks defense it’s clear who the movie stars are. Richard Sherman, Kam Chancellor and Earl Thomas got all the accolades and the attention, while the average NFL fan can’t even name a starter for the rest of the defense. But without Seattle’s stalwart defensive line the Legion of Boom would not be what it is today.

Grading the Seahawks defensive line is perhaps the biggest challenge in this series. No other personnel group saw as much turnover or lost as much veteran experience and leadership. How this group fares will depend largely on a group of guys who were effectively red-shirted last season but we’ll give it a shot, grading them in three categories: pass rushing, stopping the run and depth.

1. Pass Rush: A

If you’ve heard it once you’ve heard it a hundred times: in today’s NFL you simply cannot have too many pass rushers. As teams rely more and more on the passing game pressuring the quarterback is becoming an absolute necessity for successful defenses. The Seahawks are about as solid as any team in the league in this regard.

During the 2013 season the Seahawks tallied 44 sacks – that’s 7.6 percent of their possessions, which tied them with the Colts for the 7th best mark in the NFL. (The Rams made the top of the list.)

Against playoff opponents the Seahawks were even more effective. On several different occassions Cliff Avril and Michael Bennett beat their respective offensive linemen and got to Drew Brees, Colin Kaepernick and Peyton Manning.

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The individual strip/sack/fumbles are nice, but what’s even more important is getting into the quarterback’s head. You could tell by the second quarter of the Super bowl that Peyton Manning was tired, frustrated by his teammates, and scared of being hit again. Knowing that the Seahawks hit as hard as they do affects opposing quarterbacks before they even step onto the field.

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