One of the top offseason goals of the Seattle Seahawks was to improve the team's pass rush. Mission accomplished.
With a season-high seven sacks Thursday night in the 34-22 victory at Arizona, the Seahawks have 23 sacks in the first seven games. They had 36 sacks all last season, and two players -- Chris Clemons (11.5 sacks) and Bruce Irvin (eight sacks) -- accounted for more than half of them.
Eight players were involved in the seven sacks Thursday night, and 11 players have contributed to the sack-fest this year.
Bennett, signed as a free agent from Tampa Bay, leads the team with 4.5 sacks. Clemons and Clinton McDonald have 3.5 sacks each and Avril has three sacks.
Bennett (6-foot-4, 275 pounds) was originally signed by Seattle in 2009 as a free-agent rookie out of Texas A&M, but was released and signed by Tampa Bay, where he played four seasons before returning to the Seahawks.
He’s been well worth the $4.8 million, one-year deal Seattle paid to get him. Bennett has 13 tackles and 15 quarterback hurries. His versatility is what the coaches love about him with his ability to play defensive end or defensive tackle.
Being able to play multiple positions is one thing that makes the defensive front so good for the Seahawks. Avril, Irvin and Schofield are hybrids who play both linebacker and defensive end in Seattle’s system.
The Seattle defensive front rarely gives an opponent the same look twice. Fourteen players contribute between the line and linebackers.
Seattle coach Pete Carroll said the coaching staff still is learning the best way to use its impressive depth on defense.
“This is a discovery time for us,” Carroll said Friday on 710ESPN radio Seattle. “We thought it was going to take us a while to zero in on how to utilize all our guys. We’re just trying to find the right mixture, but it’s a good problem to have.”
Carroll wants to get as many plays as possible for each man on the defensive front.
“I don’t think we’re going to settle into on just four guys,” Carroll said. “We like to keep them fresh. Everybody brings something to the table, but there are so many variables that it’s a little daunting to figure out the right way to do it. We’re different up there. We have speed and aggressiveness and a chance to light it up.”
Which is exactly what happened Thursday night when Seattle put constant pressured on Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer with six quarterback hits and 26 hurries, along with the seven sacks.
“It was a great game for those guys and maybe we can build on that,” Carroll said.