BY Art Thiel 01:07PM 05/27/2020

Thiel: Brown may be last ’19 O-lineman standing

Duane Brown could have up to four new starting teammates in the Seahawks’ offensive line. And in a shut-down off-season, far less time to prepare. Quoth he: “It sucks.”

LT Duane Brown has to embrace the suck of a potentially shrunken season. / Drew Sellers, Sportspress Northwest

If and when the NFL regular season begins, there’s a decent chance LT Duane Brown will be the only one left from the Seahawks’ offensive line that opened the 2019 season. And he’s coming off knee and bicep injuries that limited him. He also has to help wise up the newbies without benefit of organized team activities, mini-camps, and just having lunch in the cafeteria to learn who are the introverts and who are the extroverts.

“Everything is different,” he told local media Wednesday on a Zoom conference call. “You just don’t have a feel for what’s expected, and how things go.

“That’s the main thing, and it sucks.”

No unit on any football team will feel more the consequences of the coronavirus-induced shutdown than the offensive line. Cohesion through repetition is everything, and the Seahawks group inevitably will have little because of the suckitude.

We all know the world has bigger problems. But if you want to immerse yourself in distraction — or need another reason to open the liquor cabinet — imagine Brown asking for name tags on his teammates in order to call out the double-teams for Rams DT Aaron Donald.

RT Germain Ifedi and LT/TE George Fan were let go in free agency, and RG D.J. Fluker and C Justin Britt were waived. LG Mike Iupati was re-signed, but he just turned 33 and is holding his joints and muscles together with a pneumatic nail gun.

And the Seahawks will bring to camp at least a dozen other O-linemen to try to improve a group that has helped allow QB Russell Wilson to be sacked a combined 99 times over the past two seasons, the worst back-to-back poundings of his career.

Obviously all teams are operating under the same constraints. But Brown, 35 Aug. 3o and entering his 13th season, has plenty to do to get his massive self ready besides doing the dad thing at the virtual shop.

“I’m doing what I can now virtually, over texts and phone calls, just to try to build as much chemistry as possible until we’re able to meet physically,” he said. “We’ll have a small window to build each other up as much as possible.

“For rookies having no introduction at all to the NFL, not being able to be in a facility, to be around players, to be in actual meetings and workouts, to see how we go about our business” is hard.

The four veteran free agent signees (Brandon Shell, B.J. Finney, Cedric Ogbuehi, Chance Warmack) “have been around, but it’s just a different culture from whatever team you were on. Everything is different. You just don’t have a feel for how things go,” he said. “But that’s the position we’re in, so we have to make do.”

Much deservedly has been said about the off-season need to fix Seattle’s defense that was among the worst in coach Pete Carroll’s tenure. But the O-line’s shortcomings were masked to a degree by Wilson’s frequent feats of magic, and a defense that tied for third in turnover ratio at +12. Only one team recovered more than Seahawks’ 16 fumbles, surely the most random of measurable actions in the NFL.

The O-line’s subsequent upheaval was not necessarily an indictment of play; the Seahawks did finish ninth in scoring.

“I don’t think we’ve been horrible up front,” he said. “A lot of decisions had to be made. We had a couple guys that were entering free agency. Could be salary-cap casualties. I miss the guys that are no longer here. But it’s a business. I’ve been in it long enough to know that I don’t take anything personal.”

Brown reported no further surgeries on the bicep tear that slowed him mid-season, nor the right knee that needed arthroscopic surgery in December and cost him two games, including the first playoff game. He said he changed up his off-season routine by reducing some weightlifting and adding flexibility exercises, including yoga.

The main health question for Brown and all NFL players is how the league and players association plan to navigate the virus that isn’t going away.

“It’s a very weird time we’re in,” he said. “We don’t really know what the next few months are gonna look like nationwide. I don’t really know what to expect.

“I think we will be OK playing. I don’t know about packed arenas; that could get a little bit risky, or very risky. But I think we we could find a way.”

The same could be said for the O-line makeover. In May, both seem iffy propositions.




  • jafabian

    Understand the decision but IMO waiving Fluker and Britt will come back to haunt the Hawks. It’s very possible that Britt would have been waived even if he didn’t get injured. But their skills and especially their leadership will be missed. It’s an opportunity for the younger players, especially ones who have spent time on the practice squad, need to be able to take advantage of. Over the years in the Pete Carroll era the O-Line philosophy has been more to run block than to pass protect. With the receivers that DangeRuss has now maybe that will change though old habits die hard. I think it’ll be business as usual with Wilson holding on to the ball too long occasionally as he waits for his receivers to get open.

    Still hoping we get to see the Hawks in action though. Safely. For everyone.

    • art thiel

      Every year, every NFL team has to make choices to let go a few mid-career vets who are still productive. If healthy, they often get jobs, as Shell, Ogbuehi, Finney and Warmack did in Seattle. Whether they are better will be told by the season. If there is a season.

      • jafabian

        After the type of season the O-Line had in 2018 I would have never guessed that only Duane Brown would remain among the regulars for the potential 2020 season. Hopefully their free agent class for 2020 will work better than the 2019 class where only Jason Myers remains from that group and he didn’t have the type of season everyone was expecting from him.

    • 1coolguy

      Fluker was a road grader in the running game but was much less so in pass blocking. Also, he missed a lot of action due to nagging injuries.
      The line has been lousy for years regarding pass blocking therefore Wilson’s sacks: Can you imagine how many times a less mobile QB would have been sacked? Of course RW still hasn’t mastered the “throw the f’ing ball out of bounds” play. But there’s always hope.
      With that said, imagine RW lining up behind a new OL – With no workouts together to speak of – Yikes! We can just hope for the best that RW can stay in one piece.

      • art thiel

        The absence of physical practice time together will hurt, given the turnover in the line. Nothing to be done about it except to suck it up.

        • Husky73

          Gotta play the hand you’re dealt.

          • BB46

            Gots to know when to hold em,,, know when to fold them too.

          • art thiel

            Where’d you get that?

    • Husky73

      I like DangeRuss…….reminds me of Danger Jim Forman….”That’s right, Jean. I’m standing in the midst of the four alarm blaze, as the 60 mile per hour gusts whip the flames into a blazing inferno just feet away from where I’m standing, and the icy temperature has plummeted to 16 bone chilling degrees. Wearing my KING yellow wind breaker and reporting live from the collapsing warehouse, I’m Jim Forman.”

      • art thiel

        I remember his “stinging, stinging rain.” I think that’s when the drops fall point-side down.

  • coug73

    Russell Wilson needs to get career insurance, does he hear Loyds of London calling?