Seahawks DE Ziggy Ansah ‘Still Battling’ to Return to Form
After trading defensive end Frank Clark to the Chiefs in April, the Seahawks attempted to replace his pass rushing production by signing veteran free agent Ziggy Ansah and acquiring Jadeveon Clowney from the Texans.
To this point, the trade for Clowney has looked like a slam dunk despite only producing 2.0 sacks in nine games. He’s consistently drawn double teams and produced seven quarterback hits along with five tackles for loss, giving Seattle a major boost defending the run.
But as Clowney has hit his stride after having to learn a new scheme on the fly, Ansah hasn’t yet been able to round into form coming off of offseason shoulder surgery. He’s missed three regular season games and when he has been active, he’s only played more than 50 percent of the Seahawks defensive snaps on three occasions.
While the 30-year old edge rusher has registered only 10 tackles and a single sack thus far, coach Pete Carroll indicated Ansah still hasn’t made it back to his normal playing weight, which has impacted his production on the field.
“He’s still battling physically to get back to right.” Carroll told reporters on Monday. “He still hasn’t gained all his weight back yet – he’s still in the 250s. He is on a regimen to continue to get stronger and keep working to get back to full go.”
During earlier seasons starring for Detroit, Ansah played at around 275 pounds. Without being able to run and lift weights for most of the offseason, he’s still trying to regain some of the muscle mass lost following his shoulder operation, which has made it tougher for him to make a difference on the field.
When the Seahawks signed Ansah to an incentive-laden one-year deal in May, they hoped the ex-BYU standout and former first-round pick would be able to rediscover prior All-Pro form. He twice finished with double-digit sacks for the Lions twice, including a career-high 14.5 sacks in 2015.
But there’s a reason Ansah didn’t strike a deal in March when free agency opened and Seattle structured his deal with roughly $4 million in roster and game bonuses. Teams knew there’d be a chance it would take substantial time for him to recover from surgery and find his groove again.
With seven games left in the season, Carroll views Ansah as still being on a “developmental campaign” working back to full strength and given the effort he provides on the field, he expects results will improve in time.
“He plays really hard and he’s smart and he does things right. I think that the production should show, it should come up. We’re gonna stay after it.”
Set to play six games against potential playoff teams over the final eight weeks, the Seahawks could certainly use a rejuvenated Ansah during the closing stretch to bolster its invisible pass rush. The team ranks 26th in the NFL in sacks (15), 27th in quarterback knockdowns (16), and 31st in pressure percentage (16.5 percent).
Based on those metrics as well as film observations, Carroll knows pressuring opposing passers hasn’t improved enough. Statistically, it’s been the team’s biggest flaw despite all of the offseason moves made in efforts to replace Clark.
Receiving more contributions from Ansah would undoubtedly help, but he’s not putting all the blame on one player’s shoulders. He believes the onus falls on everyone up front to turn things around in the last two months of the season.
“We need juice out of all of our guys really and everybody has gotta add to it to get us to move ahead. We haven’t made enough progress there yet, so we just keep going.”