After taking an early exit in the playoffs last year by losing to Carolina in the NFC Divisional playoffs, the Seattle Seahawks ended a two-year Super Bowl run.
The Seahawks have the look of a team this year that can land back in the Super Bowl. The defense appears to be top notch and quarterback Russell Wilson is one of the most dynamic players in the league. There are few holes and worry spots on Seattle’s roster.
However, one issue area may be the offensive line. The unit was considered to be one of the worst in the NFL after last season and there are major question marks heading into this season. Former NFL running back and longtime ESPN analyst Merril Hoge recently watched preseason film of Seattle’s offense. The film session left Hoge worried.
“If there is something that can screw up this team’s chance this year, it’s the offensive line,” Hoge said. “I’m not just sure about it.”
There is no denying there is a lot of change on Seattle’s offensive front.
It appears four spots are set on Seattle’s offensive line: center Justin Britt, left guard Mark Glowinski, right guard Germain Ifedi and left tackle Bradley Sowell. There is one decision left to be made as Garry Gilliam and J’Marcus Webb compete at right tackle. Gilliam failed in his push to be the critical left tackle and ultra-important blindside protector for the invaluable Wilson.
There has been much flux on this unit. Britt, a second-round pick two years ago, has struggled at right tackle and left guard. Now, he moves inside to hopefully find a permanent and productive home on the line.
“Continuity is so important on a line,” Hoge said. “One year in Pittsburgh, we had to move two guys and the offensive line was a wreck. This unit has guys moving like crazy. It just takes a long time for an offensive line to work together.”
Glowinski is a second-year player who has one NFL start. Ifedi is the team’s first-round pick this year.
So, despite the flux and inexperience, the Seahawks believe they are very talented along this unit and it could be improved.
“It looks good,’’ offensive line coach Tom Cable told the Seattle Times of the interior line’s play in particular. “It looks like we have gotten to a place where it’s been really consistent for three games — on the same page, playing together and demonstrating some really good football whether it’s run or pass.’’
While there are questions about the unit, many believe there is a lot to like about this situation and the unit shouldn’t sabotage Seattle’s season. It starts with Wilson. He is one of the great improvisers in the NFL and his athleticism and speed helps him extend plays. So, if the unit is not improved, Wilson is used to making his own plays.
Hoge says that is a dangerous way to live.
“Russell can spin like crazy and he boots out and he draws out and that’s all great,” Hoge said. “But he needs protection.”
In addition to Wilson’s ability to get out of trouble, the Seahawks are well coached. Cable, the former Oakland Raiders head coach from 2008-10, is considered one of the best offensive line coaches in the NFL and has been mentioned as a potential head-coaching candidate in recent years. If Cable does well with this in-flux and young group, he will continue to open eyes.
Longtime NFL scout Matt Williamson is not worried about this unit not figuring it out under Cable. He says it has happened before.
“Seattle’s offensive line seems to always be really short on talent, but really strong on coaching with Cable,” Williamson said. “It needs come together for crunch time, around December and I believe it will under Cable.”
It seems to be the tact Seattle is taking. It knows it has a great defense, a great quarterback and good coaching. It is willing to take its chances. After all, look at Denver. It won the Super Bowl last year with an offensive line that was injured and subpar.
“You know, every team is going to have a weak spot,” said former NFL scout and current San Francisco radio host John Middlekauff. “Seattle has been used to that on the offensive line. Russell Wilson is such a magician with the way he jukes around, the Seahawks just need functional guys and I think that’s what they have. And it works for them. If Seattle had a top-five offensive line, I think it would be a 14-2 team. Now, I’m thinking 12-4, 11-5 and still be in the Super Bowl mix … the other offensive line is definitely a weak spot, but I think they can get by with it.”