The Seattle Seahawks caught lightning-in-a-bottle (as well as the positive end of an officiating gaffe by the replacement refs) last season, made the NFL Playoffs and came close to making it to the NFC Championship. Not many people expected the Seahawks to be good last season, much less as good as they ended up being.
They obviously caught a huge break in the performance that they got from their rookie quarterback, Russell Wilson. Wilson earned the starting gig in training camp and in the preseason and proved why he deserved it as the season went on. Seattle was also aided by their always stifling and elite defense that was, once again, one of the best in the league.
However, that vaunted defense will be at a distinct disadvantage at the start of the 2013 regular season. The Seahawks already knew that they were going to be without one of their defensive stars, defensive end Chris Clemons, who is going to miss time while he continues to recover from knee surgery. Now they will be without their other starting defensive end, Bruce Irvin, who has been suspended for the first four games of the season due to testing positive for a banned substance.
Now the Seahawks will start the year with much less firepower coming out of their front seven. In the regular season last year, Clemons and Irvin combined for a success count, which measures the number of plays a player was directly part of that ended positively, of 60. The two defensive ends also combined for 20 sacks, 39 hits on the quarterback, four forced fumbles and 12 tackles for losses. They were huge for Seattle coming off the ends.
Without Clemons and Irvin, the Seahawks are going to have to get big games from Cliff Avril, one of the likely replacements. Even if that happens, though, the Seahawks still likely won’t be as dominant while their two defensive ends are out. Their offense is likely to be better, but their defense is what made them so great last season. We shall see if they can maintain with Clemons and Irvin sidelined.