The Seattle Seahawks’ defense harassed quarterback Carson Palmer all night in earning a 34-22 victory over the Arizona Cardinals on Thursday night.
Pete Carroll sent his pass rushers after his former college quarterback at USC and hit him time after time in forcing many rushed and errant throws. The Seahawks sacked Palmer seven times and hit him 13 more times on Thursday night. Eight different players combined for the sacks with no player getting more than one on the night.
The pressure came from everywhere. Defensive ends Chris Clemons, Cliff Avril and Michael Bennett each picked up a sack as did defensive tackles Tony McDaniel and Clinton McDonald. Linebacker Malcolm Smith also got one with linebacker K.J. Wright and defensive end Red Bryant splitting another.
The options are plentiful for Carroll and defensive coordinator Dan Quinn and Carroll believes the pass rush can get even better.
“It was great to see the production in the pass rush. That’s something that’s getting better,” Carroll said. “We said earlier it was going to take us a while before we figure out how to mix our guys in our pass rush. We’ve got a number of different kinds of athletes to mix in there and so we’re still finding that out.”
The Seahawks have only truly had every one of their pass rush options available for a couple of weeks. Clemons missed all of training camp and didn’t get back on the field until Week 3. Avril, Bennett, McDaniel and defensive tackle Brandon Mebane were all sidelined at times in camp or early in the season. Linebacker Bruce Irvin missed the first four games due to suspension.
Now the Seahawks have all their pieces available and Carroll believes the longer they work together the better they can still become.
“We’re going to get better there,” Carroll said. “We’re going to improve at mixing our guys properly and using them to the best things they can do.
The Seahawks are currently second in the league in sacks with 23 trailing only the 30 sacks already accumulated by the Kansas City Chiefs, though they’ve played one more game than most of the league. If Seattle’s pass rush can be as dominant consistently as they were Thursday night against the Cardinals with the strength of their secondary as well, it’s going to lead to some miserable days for opposing quarterbacks the rest of the season.