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Seahawks Should Lean Into Youth Movement Off Edge, Starting With Alton Robinson

The Seahawks' current pass rushing rotation isn't working. They've started to feature Darrell Taylor more but have veered off the road of opportunity for Alton Robinson. However, health provided, it's time to let the two 2020 draft picks take the lead.

In just one week, the Seahawks fell from a solid 11th in total pressures to a meager 20th. Due in part to a quick Steelers passing attack, they were credited with just seven disruptions on 75 snaps and were unable to bring down veteran quarterback Ben Roethlisberger for a sack in those few opportunities, all while losing their top pass rushing threat, Darrell Taylor, to a scary neck injury. Taylor was the only Seattle defender to even register a hit on Roethlisberger.

Offseason addition Kerry Hyder and reclamations Carlos Dunlap and Benson Mayowa have generally been ineffective in the pass rushing department through six games. The trio have combined for just 29 of the team's 95 pressures this season, with Mayowa possessing the only sack in the group. To break it down even further: they're pressuring opposing quarterbacks on just 8.84 percent of their pass rushing snaps (328) and getting sacks—or, in this case, sack—just 0.3 percent of the time. 

The Seahawks have recognized this, attempting to shake things up by increasing Taylor's snap count in Week 6 and doing the same with Alton Robinson in Week 3. But the thing with Robinson is: he's quickly fallen out of the picture once more, registering just seven snaps over his last two games, including just one against the Steelers on Sunday night. 

It's possible the second-year man out of Syracuse is still hampered by a knee injury that placed him on the injury report ahead of Week 4. In that game, a 28-21 Seahawks win over the 49ers, Robinson recorded just one pressure in 44 total snaps and was given an abysmal 38.3 defensive grade from Pro Football Focus. 

But if his knee is fine, then there's no apparent excuse to not play him. He's statistically been more effective than Hyder, Mayowa and Dunlap combined, pressuring opposing quarterbacks on 16.67 percent of his pass rush snaps (six out of 36). 

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Prior to his injury, a strong argument could be made that he was Seattle's most dangerous pass rushing threat to kick off the season. He logged half of his pressures in just five pass rushing attempts against the Colts in Week 1, then made one of the biggest plays in the team's overtime loss to the Titans a week later when he caused a forced fumble with a sack of Ryan Tannehill.

If the recent lack of usage is due to the injury, then fine—that's understandable. But if it's due to one poor performance in San Francisco, the Seahawks are making a grave mistake.

Now that Seattle may have found a winning combination at the cornerback position, its group of edges should naturally have a better opportunity to impact games. Improved coverage should, in theory, keep opposing quarterbacks from quickly getting the ball out as much as they have in weeks past. Therefore, it would behoove the team to give its two best pass rushers—arguably Taylor and Robinson—as many chances as possible, as soon as possible. 

Of course, Taylor may not be ready to play in Week 7. Though it appears the Seahawks dodged a massive bullet with the 2020 second-round pick's injury, they'll be cautious in keeping him safe. This is all the more reason for Robinson to get back into the 35-45 snap range, health provided.

It's clear the current rotation Seattle is rolling out just isn't working. Players like Dunlap have massively disappointed in 2021 and it's time to experiment. There's a youth movement knocking on the door and, at a record of 2-4, there's no harm in seeing what a shift in personnel could do.