I alluded to the snap counts from the Seahawks' loss at St. Louis in my article in this morning's News Tribune about the changes coming in Seattle's dormant pass rush.
Defensive end Michael Bennett is exhibit A on why the pass rush has only seven sacks this season -- third-fewest in the league -- after having 20 at this point last season on the way to 44 for the season, eight-most in the NFL.
Bennett has three sacks this season, and (I hesitate to note this because it's a whole new world) the advanced-metrics geeks note Bennett is the third-most productive defensive end in the league by the measure of "win probability added." Don't ask: here's where that came from.
But Bennett has no sacks in the last four games. Let's look at his snap counts in those four games:
He played 44 of the defense's 49 snaps Sunday, when the Seahawks did not sack and barely affected Rams quarterback Austin Davis. That's 90 percent of snaps, as all you math majors know. Seattle’s plan entering the season wasn't to have Bennett playing 90 percent of the plays.
The week before, in the loss to Dallas, he played 87 percent of the snaps. He also played 87 percent of the time at Washington and 78 percent against Denver.
In the sixth game of last season, by comparison, Bennett played 46 percent of the snaps against Tennessee. The Seahawks got three sacks that day.
As I wrote yesterday, defensive-line coach Travis Jones explained in August one of the key reasons the Seahawks' pass-rush was so explosive and affected so many games late last season, including ruining Peyton Manning and Denver's Super Bowl. Jones said it was because his pass rushers were fresh from all the rotating early in games, and all the deep production Seattle got up front throughout the season.
Those days of front four affecting quarterbacks have ended. In turn, a defense that led the league in interceptions has just two in six games. Only the Jets have fewer this season. Last season, with the pass rush rolling and affecting passers into rushed decisions and bad throws, Seattle had 28 interceptions to lead the NFL.
Quarterbacks have had more time this fall against Seattle to make better decisions and better throws. The league's top-ranked pass defense of a year ago is 15th now.