Rushing the quarterback has been an area of inconsistency for the Seattle Seahawks throughout the 2018 season.
During last week’s 30-27 win in Carolina, Seattle didn’t register a single quarterback hit against Cam Newton, allowing him to complete 25 of 30 passes for 256 yards and two touchdowns. The Panthers rushed for 220 yards on the ground, helping slow down the Seahawks pass rush and creating prime play action opportunities.
But facing off against 49ers third-string quarterback Nick Mullens on Sunday, coach Pete Carroll wanted to see if the Seahawks could rattle the undrafted second-year signal caller in front of a wild CenturyLink Field crowd. Defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr. effectively dialed up extra pressure early, including a blitz by linebacker Bobby Wagner that resulted in Seattle’s first sack to promptly end San Francisco’s first drive.
“I thought it was impressive right off the bat that we were able to get some heat and let them know, they have a new quarterback, and just make it hard on them, and make it hard here in our place and all that.” Carroll said following the game. “I wanted to see if we could make him feel it, and I thought the guys did a great job to do that.”
By the time Seattle had finished off a dominant 43-16 victory to move to 7-5 on the season, Mullens had hit the turf 15 times. Leading the ambush, defensive tackle Jarran Reed tormented the young quarterback throughout the game, recording a whopping six quarterback hits against him.
In the midst of a breakthrough third NFL season, Reed continues to make a strong case for All-Pro consideration.
On the 49ers final offensive possession alone, Reed stuffed running back Jeff Wilson Jr. for no gain and hit Mullens three times, though one was cancelled out by a questionable roughing the passer penalty. He concluded his outstanding performance by sacking Mullens on fourth down, increasing his career-high total to 6.5 sacks on the year.
With four games left to play, Reed ranks third among defensive tackles with 17 quarterback hits and fifth in sacks at the position. If he maintains his current pace through the rest of the month, the 25-year old will finish with 52 tackles, 9.0 sacks, and 22 quarterback hits.
Aside from Reed, an active Seahawks front line amassed six more quarterback hits. Defensive end Frank Clark didn’t add to his sack total, but he hit Mullens three times, while defensive end Jacob Martin and defensive tackle Nazair Jones contributed one a piece. Quinton Jefferson also teamed up with blitzing cornerback Justin Coleman to receive a partial sack.
Carroll wasn’t thrilled about his team allowing 414 passing yards, citing poor tackling as a major issue throughout the game. But Carroll knows the pass rush wasn’t the issue and he was quick to compliment Mullens, who he felt did a “really good job” against Seattle’s constant pressure in the pocket.
“I thought the push was good, although they threw for a ton of yards and they had to throw a lot, and all that. He [Mullens] stood up to it all and did a nice job.” Carroll said, adding: “I thought the pocket was knocked down quite a bit. There was some good stuff happening up front. The guys are really pushing hard. It’s been kind of consistent for the last three weeks it seems, and hopefully we can keep pushing there, keep going.”