By Michael Bennett
Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz was sacked five times and hit another 12 against the Pats last Sunday.
And, just as his body is healing from that ragdoll performance, he is staring at this Sunday’s Seattle Seahawks defense, led by Jadeveon Clowney, who was named the NFC Defensive Player of the Week for his performance in Seattle’s 27-24 overtime victory over the San Francisco 49ers last week.
“I feel like I’ve been playing okay all season. I was getting after the quarterback, rushing at all of them, just not finishing and getting sacks and everything. This game was big,” Clowney said. “They were undefeated, of course. Everybody was paying a lot of attention to their D line, what was going on with their D line. The talk coming into their game was about them. Just wanted to go out there and change the narrative. Let them know we’re still over here.”
Clowney hit 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo five times, sacked him once, and had a forced fumble and a fumble return for a touchdown. Clowney’s pressure also forced Garoppolo into two additional sacks and several incompletions.
“I’ve been getting pressure on quarterbacks a lot. Just haven’t been getting the numbers I’ve been looking for. Even in that game, I missed a few sacks,” Clowney said.
Even with Clowney, the Seahawks defensive line has struggled to be a consistent factor throughout the season. Seattle is still just tied for 28th in sacks this season with 20 through 10 games. Fourteen of those sacks have come in three games against Cincinnati, Arizona and San Francisco. However, the showing against the 49ers was the most complete showing of the season by the group.
It’s taken Clowney some time to adjust to a new defensive front and a rotating cast of characters alongside him this season.
“Yeah, I was kind of surprised. … They started moving me around throughout the first couple weeks trying to figure out where I fit. They found a good spot for me,” Clowney said of the time it’s taken to adjust. “I’m feeling pretty comfortable in that spot. I just want to continue to grow in that spot and get better at it.”
Meanwhile, Clowney said he’s not concerning himself with his lack of a contract for next season and where he’ll be playing. Clowney is playing the season on the franchise tag for Seattle which was placed on him by the Houston Texans in March. The Seahawks have agreed not to place it on Clowney again so he can reach free agency in March.
“I’m really focusing on this season,” Clowney said. “I don’t care about looking down the road. It’s just one game at a time because we can do something special here. … I’m trying to help this team try to find a way to get to the playoffs and get to the Super Bowl. That’s what I think everybody’s focusing on right now.
“It’s been wild. This whole experience, this whole year has just been mind-blowing for me. From being traded up here to being with this team, it’s a whole flip. It’s for the good. It was for the good for me. It’s been coming along good. I’m loving what the team had to offer, this whole staff got to offer. I’m just trying to fit in, to get in where they want me. I’m just trying help this team win games whatever I can do.”