The Seattle Seahawks have had one of the most dominant defenses in the NFL for years now, but much of the talk about their defensive unit has surrounded the “Legion of Boom,” and rightfully so. The group that includes playmakers like Richard Sherman and Earl Thomas is simply elite, but the defensive line deserves to get some love as well. While Michael Bennett is a name that no NFL fan will likely overlook, it’s Cliff Avril who’s deserving of much of the love for the Seahawks to this point in 2016.
While the Seahawks’ 6-6 tie with the Arizona Cardinals was boring up until the missed field goals galore began in overtime, Avril’s performance in that game is being overlooked. Avril was not just dominant, he was a complete force who looked unstoppable at times. Dave Boling of the Tacoma News Tribune broke down his unbelievable performance in Week 7.
#seahawk Cliff Avril had a spectacular game: 2.5 sacks for 20.5 yards, 2 TFL, 6 QB hits and 2 passes defensed
— Dave Boling (@DaveBoling) October 24, 2016
That’s pretty much an unreal stat line, and just shows that he’s more than capable of taking over games in a big way. On the season, Avril has 18 combined tackles, 6.5 sacks, two forced fumbles and two passes defensed. There’s little question that Avril is a key part of a Seahawks defensive unit that has totaled 20 sacks thus far in 2016, ranking them tied for No. 4 in the league. He’s also helped the Seahawks allow just 14 points per game (tied for No. 1 in the NFL), as well as 84.2 rushing yards per game on the ground (No. 6).
What makes Avril even more special is what he does off the field. This offseason, the Seahawks rusher went to Haiti to help rebuild a school, per the team’s official website. After going, Avril stated that for every single sack he records in 2016, that he’ll fund a new house in Haiti.
I've pledge that For every sack this season, I will fund a safe/permanent home for the resilient people in Haiti! https://t.co/jR1BjL7MBK
— Cliff Avril (@cliffavril) October 9, 2016
After a two-sack performance against the Atlanta Falcons in a 26-24 victory, Avril said he was just happy to be able to help out Haiti in anyway possible, according to the team’s website.
“The more the better, man,” Avril said. “I didn’t think about that until after the game when somebody pointed that out. I’m just grateful to be able to help out. I’m fortunate to be in a situation to be able to do that, so it’s pretty cool.”
What Avril is doing both on and off the field in 2016 is something special. While he’s more than on pace to break his single-season best when it comes to sacks, he’s also wreaking havoc on the Seahawks defense line, which not only helps make the lives of that previously-mentioned Legion of Boom easier, but it also helps out Russell Wilson and the entire offense as well.
Based on the hot start from Avril, and the Seahawks defense as a whole, don’t be shocked if things don’t slow down in terms of his production. After tallying those 6.5 sacks through six games, expecting 15-plus doesn’t seem out of the realm of possibility. Even more importantly, the Seahawks are winning games, and after that brutal 9-3 loss to the Los Angeles Rams, the reeled off three-straight victories, then the pretty ugly tie in Week 7. Even still, Seattle is riding high in the NFC West and seems poised to hold onto that top spot.