Ex-Eagle Clemons is a sack master for Seattle

Seattle Seahawks defensive end Chris Clemons (91), left, and Red Bryant (79) sack Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill (17) during the first half of an NFL football game on Sunday, Nov. 25, 2012, in Miami. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)
Seattle Seahawks defensive end Chris Clemons (91), left, and Red Bryant (79) sack Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill (17) during the first half of an NFL football game on Sunday, Nov. 25, 2012, in Miami. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome) (Gerry Broome)
Posted: January 30, 2014

NEWARK, N.J. - There are good trades and there are bad trades, and the Chris Clemons deal with the Eagles was a good one for the Seahawks.

"You win some," Seahawks general manager John Schneider said, "you lose some."

Clemons has notched 38 sacks in four seasons since the Eagles dealt the pass rusher to Seattle, along with a fourth-round draft pick, for defensive end Darryl Tapp. In his previous five seasons in the NFL - two in Philadelphia - he had 20 sacks.

Clemons said the increase in sacks and overall production - he does more than just take down quarterbacks - was mostly because of the opportunity that Seahawks coach Pete Carroll gave him.

"When I first got to Seattle, Pete gave me an opportunity, not only to play but to start," Clemons said Tuesday at Super Bowl media day. "That wasn't an opportunity I had in Philadelphia. They already had their guys set in place and we knew coming in that I was going to be a role player and I was really going to work on third down and special teams.

"When I got to Seattle, Pete changed all that."

The Seahawks had a specific role in mind when they dealt for Clemons. Carroll's scheme utilized a hybrid front and his weakside outside linebacker - called the "Leo" - is mostly an edge pass rusher.

Clemons was a reserve defensive end with the Eagles. When they signed him to a five-year contract before the 2008 season, defensive coordinator Jim Johnson envisioned using him in various ways.

In his first season with the Eagles, he recorded four sacks, forced a fumble and returned a fumble 73 yards for a touchdown. But when Johnson died and Sean McDermott replaced him, Clemons' role decreased. He did finish 2009 with four sacks.

But McDermott saw no place for Clemons on his 2010 defense and in March the Eagles unloaded him to Seattle.

"I wasn't frustrated while I was in Philadelphia," said Clemons, 32. "It was a great atmosphere. Andy Reid was a great coach."

The Eagles have been criticized because of the deal, especially after Clemons recorded 11 sacks in 2010. But sometimes players fit better in different schemes.

Clemons followed up 2010 with another 11 sacks in 2011 and 111/2 in 2012. He tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his knee during the 2012 playoffs, though, and had his playing time trimmed this season.

He still starts, though, and finished the season with 41/2 sacks in part-time duty. Clemons said he hopes to get to Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning, the least-sacked quarterback in the NFL, in Sunday's game.

"We've got our work cut out for us," Clemons said.

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