Pete Carroll: Seahawks Pleased with L.J. Collier’s Development, Hoping for Improved Production
Coming into this season, the Seahawks were hopeful defensive end L.J. Collier would be able to bounce back strong during his sophomore campaign and make an impact as a pass rusher this season.
While the results haven’t shown up for him just yet, and that can also be said about the entire defensive line, there’s no question Collier has displayed signs of progression through the first six games of the regular season. Thanks to his outstanding offseason program, the 25-year old has gained some much-needed quickness and explosiveness, which is something he lacked in an injury-marred rookie season.
Despite struggling to produce notable results through the first half of this season statistically, the former first-round pick hasn’t let those issues affect him during practices along with his preparations off the field as well. Citing his impressive work ethic, coach Pete Carroll admitted he’s been extremely pleased with the youngster’s devotion to improving his craft and is confident that hard work will continue paying off for him in the future.
“LJ [Collier] is playing hard, playing tough – when productive, the throwing game came out real quick,” Carroll discussed. “Last week, we got [a] minimal amount of pressure during the game and he wasn’t unlike anybody else. So, he’s playing good football and he’s working his tail off. Of course, we’d like to see him get clean and get free in the backfield a couple more times, but I’m pleased with how hard he’s working and we’re counting on him.”
Though Collier was expected to split time on the right side with teammate Rasheem Green – who’s missed the last five games due to a neck injury – the second-year pro has maintained the starting role so far and has been able to make an impact in the backfield at times. That being said, the Texas product will need to find a way to produce more consistently moving forward or his playing time could start to diminish.
Considering Seattle’s defensive line features plenty of young players, each of them will likely require additional time to develop their craft at the highest level of competition and it’s certainly difficult to accomplish that feat through just six games. Still, Carroll and the coaching staff are planning to take a patient approach with the development of the club’s pass rush in hopes that it’ll be able to improve significantly as the season moves along.
“It’s critical to develop your rush so they can complement with the rest of the game – to get on the edge and enforce it, and break down the pocket, and perhaps get clean on the edge where you get right in the face of the quarterback,” Carroll explained. “It’s huge, that’s nothing new, nothing we haven’t talked about forever. So, that element is just a built-in need if you’re going to have a good developing pass rush.”
Over the first six games of the 2020 campaign, Collier has started in each of those contests, recording seven total tackles, five solo tackles, three tackles for loss – including his game-saving tackle against the Patriots in Week 2 – four quarterback hits, a sack, and one pass deflection.
Taking his pass rushing results even further, the 6-foot-2 defensive end has generated nine pressures (second-most among all Seahawks defensive linemen), eight hurries (second-most), two knockdowns (tied for second-most), along with a 7.4 percent pressure rate (tied for second-highest), according to Sports-Info-Solutions.com.
Since Green is expected to practice this week for the first time since Week 1, along with the impending trade of veteran Carlos Dunlap, Collier will probably be faced with a ton of competition for regular playing time through the remainder of the season. With that in mind, the additional reinforcements should help the entire defensive unit start performing more effectively as they attempt to turn the corner from their disastrous first-half showing with just 9.0 sacks as a team.
“Going into last week we really wanted to see if we could make a move here and get going in the direction we felt better about, and just because you want to doesn’t mean it happens right away. It takes some time. So as we continue I’m totally planning on us turning and being at the top end of our game. It’s out there for us, we’re going to keep battling to do it, to get it done."
“So, everybody is working at it, we’ve got a great attitude about it, guys are spending their time studying,” Carrol detailed. “We got to get our combinations of guys right, max out, and make sure we’re clean, really clean with our execution. So, our best football is still ahead of us, there’s no question in my mind.”