BY Steve Rudman 06:30AM 11/21/2015

All Seahawks’ problems start with poor O-line

Having chosen to spend their dollars elsewhere, the Seahawks are saddled with an offensive line that has compromised the offense and worn out the defense.

The fortunes of the Seahawks offensive line peaked in January during the NFC championship when Garry Gilliam, on a tackle-eligible play, caught a touchdown pass from holder Jon Ryan for a touchdown. / Drew MCKenzie, Sportspress Northwest

Pete Carroll spends part of each of his media pressers forecasting better days for his maligned offensive line while simultaneously pleading for patience as the Seahawks’ season-long Achilles heel develops under assistant head coach Tom Cable. Carroll underscored that point this week when he admitted that the unit hasn’t progressed to his satisfaction.

“I thought it would go quicker,” Carroll said. “I was holding out hope that we’d be able to turn it in the first three or four games, and maybe by game five we’d really be making progress. I think we were a few games behind when we started talking about the running game looking better, and then the pass protection started to come by game eight.

“I’m always going to want it sooner rather than later. We certainly had our sights set on that, that we could pull it off. But we’ve had to wait a little bit, had to be patient.”

Carroll’s apparent belief was that Cable, an offensive line guru, could work some magic with the unit, a belief that so far has been misplaced, through no fault of Cable’s. He’s trying to whip up a gourmet meal with hamburger and no helper. As a consequence, the offensive line’s inability to hold its own has adversely affected Russell Wilson’s individual performance (Wilson has his own issues, but that’s another story) and the offense’s overall ability to stay on the field, which is wearing out the defense.

Since Carroll took command in 2010, the Seahawks have invested heavily in their defense, tossed millions at Wilson, and twice re-worked Marshawn Lynch’s contract. But when it came time to replace RT Breno Giacomini and LG James Carpenter, both of whom departed in free agency, and C Max Unger, swapped for TE Jimmy Graham, the Seahawks sought replacements in the nether regions of the draft and on their practice squad. They might as well have scrounged through some pawn shops while they were at it.

Under Carroll/GM John Schneider, the Seahawks selected 11 offensive linemen in the past six drafts. Three – LT Russell Okung (No. 1, 2010), RG J.R. Sweezy (No. 7, 2012) and LG Justin Britt (No. 2, 2014)  – are starting. The other two starters, C Patrick Lewis and RT Gary Gilliam, entered the league as undrafted free agents.

The other Carroll/Schneider offensive line draft picks, all either gone or currently having no impact:

Year Player Pos. Round Skinny
2011 James Carpenter G 1st 39 starts, signed with Jets as FA
2011 John Moffitt G 3rd Started 15 games, traded to DEN, out of league
2013 Ryan Seymour G 7th Washed out after two years
2013 Michael Bowie T 7th Eight starts in 2013, waived after season
2014 Garrett Scott T 6th Didn’t play, waived, heart condition
2015 Terry Poole G 4th On practice squad
2015 Mark Glowinski G 4th On 53-man roster
2015 Kristjan Sokoli OL 6th On 53-man roster

The three picks from the most recent draft, Poole, Glowinski and Sokoli, the latter a converted defensive linemen (Sweezy is also a converted defensive lineman), haven’t been able to knock out undrafted free agents Lewis and Gilliam out of the starting lineup, which doesn’t say much about their value.

Another undrafted free agent, Drew Nowak, began the season as the starting center, but was quickly overwhelmed, lost his job, and wasn’t active Sunday against the Arizona Cardinals.

Seattle’s two primary offensive line backups, Alvin Bailey and Lemuel Jeanpierre, are also undrafted free agents.

The Seahawks haven’t entirely ignored in the draft their offensive line. The 11 picks since 2010 are two more than New England’s nine over the same period (the Patriots feature the NFL’s top-ranked offense) and five more than Carolina’s six (Panthers are 9-0).

But Seattle’s choices been less than satisfactory, especially compared to many of their outstanding defensive picks, including Richard Sherman, Bobby Wagner, K.J. Wright and Kam Chancellor, all taken after the first round.

Carroll was asked this past week whether he planned on changing his philosophy on building an offensive line. He said:

“Not at this point.

“We’re making progress. We’ve made improvement in the running game, we’ve made improvement in protection that has helped us I think at the midpoint. Now we need to see what happens. So I’m saying (this week) the same thing I said last week. I think we’re making progress.”

“We’re definitely growing in our productivity,” added Sweezy. “We’re communicating better, and all on the same page. We keep pecking away at corrections every week.”

Due to other priorities, the NFL’s hard salary cap, and neglect, the Seahawks simply don’t have a lot of great material to work with. Perhaps by December the offensive line won’t be such a liability. That might be too late.


  • coug73

    Meanwhile, the quest for the impact receiver continues.

    • SeaRaays

      They do have impact receivers. It is hard to show up when called plays are thrown out the window..with a improvising scrambling QB.

      • John M

        That’s really it. RW can’t throw the ball if the O-line doesn’t give the play time to develop, and unlike a 6-4 QB he can’t see over the top of pass rushers in his face so has to keep adjusting and looking for an alley to throw through. I see good effort in the line and they often look “almost” good enough to contain the D-line, but in the NFL almost doesn’t pay the rent. Losing Unger was not good, and now it’s obvious Pete won’t adjust his approach to make proper use of his 10M giant receiver. In football a basic wisdom is to build a team from the front back. When you deviate from this too far bad stuff happens . . .

        • Just Another Bullwhip

          That is why my favorite #1 picks are ALWAYS offensive lineman. If I was a coach I would stack the whole offensive line with #1 picks, or as close to it as I could get. You can go wrong on a #1 pick at any position, but because you need more offensive lineman than any position, and I actually think it is the most important position on the field, collectively, as superstar quarterbacks are few and far between, I would say keep drafting offensive lineman at the top until you have a line at or near the best in the league.

        • SeaRaays

          Drew Brees is a inch taller. He does it and always was a pocket passer and gun Salinger. You put more pressure on a O line when you scramble. The player has to hold a block longer and does not know where to block to help the QB. After the design play is no more. This leads to more holdingpenalties. Also when you require the O line to be set longer before you hike the ball…It leads to more false starts from players flinching or making a small movement. The Refs do call a lot of ticky tack fouls on us then most teams who do the same.

  • jafabian

    I’d say their problems started in the offseason with players wanting more money. They lost their focus. Since even now they are saying they can turn things around brings the question of complacency.

  • Just Another Bullwhip

    “Having chosen to spend their dollars elsewhere, the Seahawks are saddled
    with an offensive line that has compromised the offense and worn out
    the defense.”

    Excellent way to sum up the issue. I will add, however, that the purported Seahawks’ drafting “prowess” with regard to defense, as opposed to the offensive line, may be somewhat less a function of good drafting but rather the fact that Carroll’s rah-rah emotion-based and loose style of management will, at least in the short term, play more to the inherent strengths of the the average player on defense then it may to an offensive lineman, where precision and discipline is THE key, and with precision and discipline being, arguably, the last thing a Carroll penalty-addled and free-spirited team typically exhibits. It is just not in the air.

    • SeaRaays

      So undisciplined that they went to the Super bowl twice in a row. Almost took their second..just a yard away. Then RW made a terrible throw. The problem has been drafting poorly on the O line and depth the last 3 years.You are right the offensive side of the ball needs more experience and seasoning to be precise. While drafting d line … linebackers..and running backs can start quicker ..and be a plug in product.

      • Its onlySports(DavidWakefield)

        The last time a team even reached 3 SBs in a row was the Bills teams of the early 90s which was almost a quarter of a century ago.A difficult task. This teams travails are what normally happen to SB entrants.
        A deep hole has only doubled the stress of snatching a play off berth.
        SEA has pride.The players also know how tough it is to get the play off prize this year. The 49ers are in the way and it should be an emotional game with SEA prevailing big. Next week all of the players know Pitt is formidable. They will be acutely aware of the Steelers past history with this franchise. But most importantly?They know that play off check they have been enjoying(3x years plus)will be snatched from them if they continue to give up 4th Qtr leads. A loss to Pitt cannot be tolerated in their minds.
        Its time to show who they are… and it starts with a thrashing of the 49ers.
        They have filled thier HOME LOSS Quota for the season!!!Time to win.
        One game at a time. Go Hawks!

        • SeaRaays

          They will be coming off a bye ..The 5th team that has played Seattle after a bye week. So Pitt should have their QB back and healthy.

          • Its onlySports(DavidWakefield)

            Eh….there is something gravely wrong about that stat…. too many rested teams being thrown at the Defending NFC champs. Where is the respect?

  • 1coolguy

    carpenter and Giacamini are looking pretty good these days aren’t they?
    we pick up seven and a half million next year that we don’t have to pay Harvin and by either trading or renegotiating Lynch’s contract you pick up as much is 12.5 million. so with that 20 million we should be able do something next year.

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  • Its onlySports(DavidWakefield)

    Hoping they get a boost from their moves they could make with the defense this wknd…. in Lane and Pinkins….
    Eric Pinkins is an untapped talent…here is to hoping he has the game
    of his life if he gets a shot to play. Maybe he gets em a jailbreak sack
    or two when they relentlessly hound Gabbert as he tries to pass his way
    out of their offensive mess. Their running game has to deal with injury
    issues so the Hawks will probably start fast like they did in Santa
    Clara and dictate what they will have to do to attempt to come from
    behind.(pass pass pass)…that might mean some early T~Day gravy for the
    Get well time. We get to 5~5 and we would be looking pretty
    if we were in the NFC East. It is what it is. One game at a time. Go