There is a saying about the three most important things when you want to open a business: Location, location, location.
Pretty much the same thing can be said if an NFL football team needs to be successful: O-Line, O-Line, O-Line.
I watched the Seattle Seahawk-Arizona Cardinal game Saturday and I was amazed at just how the Cardinal defense dominated the Hawks offensive line in the first half: QB Russell Wilson sacked 5 times and under constant pressure. 34 plays run by the Seahawks in the first half and of those, 19 of them resulted in no gain, yards lost or a turnover. One yard of offense in the first quarter and a total of just 94 yards for the first half. A total of seven plays run inside Arizona’s 10-yard line and failed to punch it in and having to settle for a field goal.
While everything appeared to improve in the second half, I still am having a hard time as to why the O-Line has been so inconsistent. How can they look so pitiful as they did in the first half and then seem to become above average as they did in the second half?
The play of the Seahawks offensive line is what will determine how well they will do in the playoffs. And since we don’t know which O-Line will show up, us Seahawk fans are going to be sitting on pins and needles when the playoffs start.
It was evident what the Cardinals wanted to do with Russell Wilson. Keep him in the pocket and do not allow him to extend plays. You could see the Cardinal defense swing out wide when rushing the QB, daring him to run up the middle. On most of Wilson’s sacks, at least two of the offensive linemen had blown their assignments.
I understand that Seattle GM John Schneider had to make a decision when building this team that somewhere on this team, money just could not be spent. As of right now, the Seahawks have the lowest salary cap for the offensive line at $6, 259,177. That’s nearly $7 million dollars less than the next lowest team, the New York Giants.
Tom Cable may be just about the best offensive line coach in the NFL. But as with any profession, you are only as good as the ingredients you are given.
Let’s start with left tackle George Fant. Amazing potential and has indeed come a long way this year. But understand you are protecting your most valuable asset with a guy that didn’t start in a football game since his 8th grade elementary season. He focused on basketball in his high-school days and had a decent collegiate season for Western Kentucky. He was finally convinced to try football as he had a wife and child to consider. He was either going to play basketball in Poland or hopefully play in the NFL. He had no tape, barley any game footage but during a workout with the Seahawks, Cable saw him as a “long-armed athlete” and was convinced he would be a great prospect.
I am amazed at Fant’s production and improvement and I think he will be an excellent left-tackle. What I fear is that with all that Cable is teaching him, when it comes time for a new contract, he’ll be gone since the Hawks won’t want to spend the money.
Center Justin Britt seems to have found a place that he can succeed at. He was drafted by the Hawks in the 6th round of the 2014 draft. He was a starter the last two years at Missouri playing both left and right tackle. Seahawks love versatility and saw Britt as a possible right tackle and was the starter there for the Hawks in 2014. Despite being ranked as one of the worst rookie pass blocking tackles, Britt started all 16 games at right tackle and the divisional playoff game against the Carolina Panthers before suffering an injury.
After a poor showing in the 2015 season at right tackle, Hawks moved him to left guard. Britt improved a bit, starting all 16 games at left guard but still was ranked as one of the least effective pass blockers in the NFL. In 2016, Britt was moved to center and his game improved dramatically…so much that he was elected as a Pro-Bowl alternate for 2016. Pete Carroll stated that center is what they had in mind for Britt when they drafted him 2 years prior. My question is why the heck did they want so damn long? Max Unger was at center in 2014, Britt’s first year. Why didn’t they have him back up Unger the first year, get him to learn all the tricks of the trade from him and then have him start at center in 2015 and just leave him there?
The Seahawk offensive line is young with an average age of 24.2 years old. I don’t have issues with the age factor but I do have an issue with the talent level. Seahawks have been known to find some gold at other positions. Russell Wilson, Doug Baldwin, Richard Sherman and Tyler Lockett are proof of that.
They need to find the same gold for the offensive line coming up in next years draft. I’m willing to keep Fant as left tackle as I believe he will become one of the best in the game. I also will concede the center spot to Britt. Anyone who can improve to Pro-Bowl caliber is just fine in my book. But that leaves the 2 guard spots and the right tackle. Starter left guard Mark Glowinski, starter right guard German Ifedie with back up at both spots of Rees Odhiambo don’t give me a feeling of security, especially when playing against huge defensive lines such as the Cardinals. Right tackle starter Bradley Sowell and back-up Garry Gilliam are at best a couple of back-ups on other teams.
Release or trade guards Glowinski and Ifedie as well as right tackle Sowell and keep Odhiambo and Gilliam for back-up spots on the line.
Then I would go after these players in the draft:
For right tackle: Julie’n Davenport, Bucknell. Another player with a background in basketball, Davenport is 6-7 and 315 lbs. He has the tools to be a solid left tackle and would be able to develop his skills on the right side. Good versatility as both he and Fant could play either tackle spot.
Left guard: Kareem Are, Florida State. This is a big man. Listed at 6-6 and 334 pounds, Are would be just the road grader needed to jump start the Hawks running game. He is an excellent power blocker at the point of attack and with Cable coaching, he will only improve on his pass blocking.
Right guard: Taylor Moton, Central Michigan. Another big presence inside. Coming in at 6-5 and 326 pounds, he would help solidify the inside running game the Hawks so desperately need. He is versatile enough to be able to play right tackle as well.
Remember the three things needed to be a successful NFL team: O-Line, O-Line, O-Line!