As Seahawks DT Jarran Reed Returns From Suspension, Temper Expectations

Corbin Smith

Sitting pretty at 5-1 and just behind the undefeated 49ers in the rugged NFC West, the return of star defensive tackle Jarran Reed couldn’t come at a better time for the pass rush-deprived Seahawks.

Once again coming up empty in the statistics department, the Seahawks produced zero quarterback hits and zero sacks against Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield in Sunday’s 32-28 victory, marking the third time in four games coach Pete Carroll’s team has failed to register a sack.

Hoping his presence will inject life into their dormant pass rush, the Seahawks plan to activate Reed to the 53-man roster this week after finishing a six-game suspension for domestic violence accusations.

“It’s great to have J. Reed come back to us.” Carroll said on Monday. “He’s like a little kid at Christmas time. He’s so excited to be back with his teammates and be back with us.”

In the final year of his rookie contract, Seattle hopes Reed can pick up where he left off last season, as the former Alabama standout broke out by establishing new career-highs in tackles (50) and sacks (10.5). He also finished just behind defensive end Frank Clark with 24 quarterback hits, tripling his previous career best.

But after being away from the team for a lengthy period of time, Carroll wisely made sure to halt the brakes a bit when discussing expectations for Reed upon his return to Seattle.

“I don’t know what to tell you about how it’s going to go. I haven’t seen him on the field yet. I know he worked really hard, from everything he said, to stay abreast with his conditioning and all of that. He looks strong and we’ll just have to wait and see how he handles it.”

As an established veteran who understands what it takes to succeed at the highest level, Reed has likely done everything necessary to stay in tip-top shape despite being unable to use Seattle’s facilities during his suspension. But being in football shape is an entirely different matter and it may take a few weeks for him to get his legs fully back under him.

Reed hasn’t been exposed to contact since the end of the preseason and Carroll likened his return to a player coming back from an injury. The Seahawks haven’t had a chance to see him in practice for over six weeks, which makes it difficult to project how much he’ll be able to play against the Ravens on Sunday.

“Generally, it just depends on each guy.” Carroll commented. “I know he worked diligently from what he said and he’s routine. We’re expecting that he’ll be able to help us this week. I don’t know how much.”

If Reed can get back into the swing of things quickly, his re-emergence will no doubt give the Seahawks comatose pass rush the shot in the arm it desperately needs.

Even after signing veteran defensive end Ziggy Ansah in May and trading for Jadeveon Clowney in August, Seattle has produced just 10 sacks, which ranks 26th out of 32 NFL teams. Clowney and Ansah have combined to produce 2.0 sacks and five quarterback hits in 10 games and no player on the roster has more than a pair of sacks thus far.

By re-inserting Reed into the starting lineup, the Seahawks won’t have to ask Poona Ford or Al Woods to rush from the three-technique, which isn’t a strength for either player. Instead, Reed and Quinton Jefferson will team up to wreak havoc from the interior, which Carroll expects will open up better opportunities for Ansah, Clowney, and other Seahawk defenders as a result.

“He’s a big factor. The spacing that happens with a guy that causes problems there, in the sets that happen to take care of him, open up areas and spaces for the other guys.”

There’s no denying Reed’s presence will have a positive impact on the rest of the Seahawks defensive line. Even if he’s not making sacks on his own, his ability to collapse the pocket as a bull rusher will make life much more difficult for opposing quarterbacks.

What remains to be seen is how soon Reed, who has been anxiously awaiting the chance to play again, will be able to find his 2018 form again. As Carroll echoed numerous times on Monday, the Seahawks and fans alike will have to exercise patience as he shakes off the rust, which means the pass rush may not be revived just yet.