When most people think of the Seahawks Offensive line in 2016, they think: weak. Poor blocking for the run. Poor protection of the QB. Lack of experience at the individual position. Lack of experience in the NFL. Lack of experience playing American Football.
The starting Centre was having his first season in that position (his third position in three seasons), there were two rookies in the starting line (one of them only had 1 year of experience playing American Football at college) and the line was completed by a second- and a third year player (neither of who had been starters at their respective position last season). The average starting OL age was tied in third place for the youngest in the league at 24.6 years.
So was it all down to inexperience and a lack of quality? I would argue that inexperience was a factor but that the OLine has huge potential (see the Lions game where they made Rawls’ life a lot easier). But let’s have a look at why they might have looked worse than they really are in 2016:
- when Russell Wilson is healthy and mobile he crates plays with his feet and takes a load off the OLine. This year he had to focus on stepping into the pocket and throwing the ball due to injury and because the run was awful.
- This in turn meant that the opposing DLine knew that they had to lay their main focus on getting to him, because he couldn’t get away and the run wasn’t to be feared, the Secondary could simply focus on good coverage of the WRs and the Linebackers could split between the rush and coverage. This meant that Wilson needed even more time in the pocket to find a target.
- To put it simply the Seahawks were pretty one-dimensional with the biggest focus on the aerial attack. The Seahawks weren’t equipped to hold up a strong pocket for a long time and so, without the run and Wilson’s mobility factoring in, the young OL’s task went from hard to extremely hard.
Because of the amount of positional changes the Seahawks like to make year on year with their Linemen I won’t go through individual positions, but just make a couple of remarks towards each guy
Justin Britt Among the trouble and growing pains of putting together the new OL the Seahawks had a rock: Justin Britt. After making his third positional transition in as many years Tom Cable moved him from the sides to Centre and he flourished. He should be what the Seahawks build their OLine around in the next few years.
Joey Hunt saw a few snaps as the backup to Britt, would do good in learning from him and taking on as much as possible. Had some good sparks.
Mark Glowinski after Britt he is the most experienced guy coming back from last season. he did a solid, if not standout, job last year and should look to build on that.
George Fant only one year of American Football at College showed in a lot of situations, but he also had some really good games where he got the job done. Seems to be an intelligent guy with lots of potential and the physical attributes to match. I think he will take a big step in 2017.
Germain Ifedi had some pretty good games, I particularly liked his mean attitude. Doesn’t let himself be pulled around by DLine guys, stands up for himself and his teammates in the trenches and doesn’t have too much respect for what he is facing. Looks like he will be making a positional change for next year.
Rees Odhiambo unfortunately the thing I remember most about him is he safety he caused against the Falcons by accidentally stepping on Wilson’s foot when he was filling in for Ifedi. I think he needs a bit of adjusting to the NFL and isn’t someone who will start too many games next season in a normal situation.
Practice Squad: Robert Meyers, Will Pericak, Ross Burbank
Brought in through Free Agency: Luke Joeckel (2nd overall pick 2013, coming off knee surgery), Oday Aboushi (not even a regular starter over the past few seasons)
Free Agent: Garry Gilliam (now a 49er), Bradley Sowell
What to change
- develop the chemistry, this is something that will just grow with time
- each individual player needs to step it up (will come with more experience)
- bring in more experience (addressed through Free Agency)
- alleviate the pressure on the OL with better RB play (addressed through Free Agency and will be better if everyone stays healthy)
- alleviate the pressure on the OL with Wilson getting back to full mobile fitness (that is what the Seahawks game is based around)
What to keep the same
- while the philosophy of the Seahawks is always to compete, I believe that consistency is more important in this instance and therefore adding heavily through the draft would not be ideal. There are already a few additions but now is the time to build on the core group.
- in relation to the previous comment: bring back Sowell for continuity
- Tom Cable – keep coaching the guys the way he does!
Draft/ Free Agency Need: I do not see any urgent need. Through the Free Agency additions they have gained experience and I don’t see them picking anyone in the draft as there are more urgent needs. Maybe there will be an UDFA or two to pick up, similar to Fant, otherwise I see the group as pretty set.