The Seahawks open their regular season at home on Sunday afternoon against the Cincinnati Bengals. It will be the first time fans will see the team’s newest acquisition, defensive end Jadeveon Clowney, in action. KNKX sports commentator Art Thiel says Clowney has changed his whole outlook on the team’s chances this year.
“I think he’s going to be more comfortable in the Seahawks system, because they run a setup that he’s familiar with,” Thiel said.
The surprise trade from the Houston Texans was a big deal, he said. “It was amazing how little it cost them.”
The Seahawks gave up two players who weren’t going to start — linebackers Jacob Martin and Barkevious Mingo — as well as a third-round draft pick. Plus, the Texans are paying half of Clowney’s salary this season.
Clowney got something out of it, too, Thiel noted.
“He will not be franchise tagged in the subsequent years,” he said. “Right now, he’s really a one-year rental. So that’s a little bit of a downside of the deal.”
Theil says it’s worth it, though.
Clowney came into the league as the No. 1 overall pick in the NFL draft in 2014, from South Carolina. He hasn’t exactly lived up to the reputation of “world’s greatest pass rusher,” Thiel said, but he’s a solid run-stopper. “That’s something a lot of people didn’t expect out of him.”
Speaking of unexpected, Thiel says this move totally changes the outlook for the Seahawks, who finished the season 10-6 last year, losing in the first round of the playoffs to the Dallas Cowboys.
The team’s pass rush went from the Seahawks’ biggest weakness to the team’s biggest asset, Thiel said.
“Not only is Clowney going to be on one end, they’re also going to get the services of (Ezekiel) Ziggy Ansah,” he said. “The two of them are going to be able to bring big heat on the opposing quarterbacks.”
And, Thiel stressed, with veteran linebackers Bobby Wagner and K.J. Wright and the eventual return of suspended defensive tackle Jarrran Reed, the Seahawks could tout “the best front seven in the NFL.”
As a result, Thiel is giving the Seahawks a two-game bump from his previous prediction of 7-9 on the season. He predicts they’ll go 9-7, and another 10-6 season is within the realm of possibility, he said.
“This is a far more competitive team this week than they were last week.”