Jason A. Churchill, 1090 The Fan


Former NFL quarterback Chris Simms is a weekly guest on The Steve Sandmeyer Show. He watches film of every team to prepare him for his work at Bleacher Report and as a color analyst for CBS. He’ll be on the call this weekend when the Cincinnati Bengals visit the Tennessee Titans. As usual, Steve, Bill and I request the opinion of Simms on a variety of topics surrounding the NFL and mostly the Seattle Seahawks. Tuesday, I asked Simms if there was a better defensive end tandem than Cliff Avril and Michael Bennett.

Yes, Bennett often lines up inside, but he’s outside enough to consider him at least a part-time end, and Avril is exclusively an end that boasts among the best set of speed-rush moves in the game.

“They are both awesome,” Simms said. “I truly get excited to turn on the film and watch them just collapse the pocket against whatever quarterback they are playing … for my money, that’s the best tandem that the NFL has to offer.”

Catch the entire interview below:

Neither Bennett nor Avril will lead the league in sacks. Not because they couldn’t if they played 850-1000 snaps. A year ago, both ‘Hawks D-linemen recorded nine sacks, ranking them No. 11 in the NFL among 4-3 defensive ends. But Bennett ranked No. 6 in QB hits and No. 13 in with 39 hurries. AVril ranked No. 18 and 26 in those categories. Avril played 574 snaps, Bennett 617. All of those that ranked in front of them in all three categories played significantly more snaps. Some 70 more, most 100-450 more.

Pro Football Focus ranks each defensive end in a category they call Pass Rush Productivity. It’s a rating that measures QB pressure created on a per-snap basis with weighting toward sacks. Bennett ranked No. 3 in the NFL a year ago, Avril ranked No. 6. Through two games in 2014, Bennett ranks No. 1 among 4-3 DEs, Avril ranks No. 3.

Both players may see an increase in snaps played this season and as long as such a task doesn’t wear them down late in the season, their raw numbers — sacks, hits, hurries — should increase greatly. Either way, it’s clear the two are nightmares for offenses to game plan against what may be the best defensive end tandem in football.

Jason A. Churchill, 1090 The Fan

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