Draft priority: Guard or Tackle?

October 29th, 2013 | Written by Rob Staton

Do the Seahawks need to target an upgrade at guard?

The question was posed in the comments section yesterday.

I still maintain the biggest problem last night was scheme and injury. Leaving Paul McQuistan (a guard) and Michael Bowie (a 7th round rookie) on an island with two of the best pass rushers in the NFL was suicide. And it merely reminded everyone how important Russell Okung and Breno Giacomini are to this team.

Put them back in the line-up and you see an instant, substantial improvement at tackle. You’d also see an improvement at guard.

An offensive line will always be about the unit. A weak link has the ability to pull down the rest of the group. Two weak links makes life very difficult.

J.R. Sweezy had two early penalties last night — one for holding, one for illegal use of hands to the face. Twitter immediately kicked off, calling for Sweezy to be benched and eventually replaced.

Put yourself in his shoes for a moment. He’s a second year player. And not a second year NFL starter, I mean a second year offensive lineman period. He’s playing next to a guy that in all fairness shouldn’t be asked to block Robert Quinn or Chris Long 1v1.

Surely in that situation you can understand why Sweezy was a little jittery? Perhaps he tried to do too much? And when your unit is being dominated in a way most of us have never seen an offensive line get dominated before — how does that not get into your head?

This isn’t an excuse for Sweezy, Max Unger or James Carpenter last night. I just think it’s difficult to judge the interior linemen with McQuistan and Bowie at tackle.

I don’t buy into the over analysis of the two guards this year. I feel like I’ve seen a lot of positive plays by Carpenter in the run game. He’s never going to be a terrific, mobile pass protector. But this is supposed to be a power running team. And I think a combination of Okung/Carpenter can prosper if they get anything like a run of games together.

I’m unwilling to write off Sweezy, who likewise has made several key blocks in the running game and continues to learn on the run. Tom Cable isn’t crazy or even that unorthodox for putting a defensive player on the offensive line. Look at Florida State — the #3 team in college football right now — using a former defensive player to watch Jameis Winston’s blind side.

This is the future. Nearly all the best college athletes are playing defense these days. You have to fight fire with fire. We’ll see more and more of this. Guys like Eric Fisher — touted as an athletic tackle — are struggling against NFL athletes. And he was the #1 overall pick.

With Sweezy, put him alongside a veteran tackle and center and watch him grow. For chunks of this season he’s been the only starter on the offensive line playing in his intended position. How is that a solid learning situation for a young player?

That’s not to say this team can’t improve at guard. You never rule anything out. If the right player is available in the draft next year, then you consider making that move.

I’m yet to see a guard worth a first round grade for 2014. Gabe Jackson and Cyril Richardson are both in that 330-340lbs range and just remind me of Carpenter at his biggest. David Yankey is a technician but also has the look of a classic overrated Stanford lineman. Xavier Su’a-Filo at UCLA might be one to consider — he’s only a junior but if he declares he could go early.

After that, I’ll take your suggestions. There’s no Jonathan Cooper or Chance Warmack here. No plug in and play solution.

At tackle, however, there’s a long list of prospective first or second round players. The aforementioned Florida State tackle — Cameron Erving — is a very intriguing prospect who has all the athletic qualities to play guard or tackle in the modern NFL. He just needs polish and good coaching.

Cedric Ogbuehi — if he declares — would be a fascinating option out of Texas A&M as a right tackle (see video above). I like Notre Dame’s Zach Martin more than most and he could play tackle or guard. Then you have all the usual suspects that we’ve talked about so much.

Factor in that Breno Giacomini is a free agent next year and unless you intend to start Bowie again, you’re going to need to either pay Breno (difficult) or replace him in the draft.

Supply meets demand at tackle. I’m not sure that’s the case at guard. And I’m intrigued enough by Alvin Bailey (clearly in a redshirt year this season) to think he could be a prospective starter at guard for the long haul and a versatile G/T option similar to McQuistan (also a free agent).

So if we’re talking about the draft priority on the offensive line, I’m still siding with tackle over guard.

And I still believe Seattle’s issues on the offensive line will ease greatly when their two starting tackles return (stating the obvious) and they discover the art of max protect.

65 Responses to “Draft priority: Guard or Tackle?”

  1. Stuart says:

    Agreed, good write up Rob! You can’t honestly judge the OL in it’s current state. What I hate most is seeing the absolute pounding the Russell Wilson takes week after week. Last night I kept thinking how much we needed an offensive play maker like TE Ebron or a big tall WR.

    When we get our OL starters back, hopefully everything will be fine, Harvin too. Is it just me or is Sidney Rice a total non-factor this season? In a perfect world for me we draft TE Ebron in R-1 and a WR like Coleman in R-2.

    Hey, we are 4-1 on the road this year. I would rather win UGLY than LOSE with a moral victory (Dallas Cowboys).

  2. Colin says:

    Sidney Rice done for the year with a torn ACL.

    It was nice while it lasted, Sid.

    • Michael says:

      While I am pretty sure it was going to happen anyway, I think this absolutely guarantees that we’ve seen the last of Sidney Rice in a Seahawks uniform. I’ve enjoyed watching Rice play, and we’ll always have that deep ball against New England… Sigh.

      Welp, next man up! Time to see whatcha got Kearse/Baldwin/Harvin!

  3. dave crockett says:

    Guards are just easier to find. You should never panic on guards. The only thing I’ll say is that like Brees, Wilson needs exceptional interior line play. That’s something the team has to commit to.

  4. Sam Jaffe says:

    I suggest that there are two huge needs on the offensive line, with multiple ways of meeting those needs. First of all, a true swing tackle is needed. A very good right tackle who, in the case of injury, can swing over to the left side and perform well enough to avoid disaster. Unfortunately, that’s probably the hardest set of qualifications to fill in a right tackle prospect. As Rob has stated in the past, finding a very good right tackle is hard enough. Finding one who can swing over is nearly impossible. However, if such a prospect exists in this year’s draft, then I think it’s definitely worth investing a first round pick. Right now we have a backup left guard who is mediocre at that position who swings over to left tackle and is atrocious in that spot. That’s not a good solution.

    The second major issue is left guard. I am finally ready to admit that James Carpenter is a failed prospect. Despite the fact that he made the block of the century in last year’s Detroit game, I just don’t see him making major improvements. I hear what Rob is saying in that he’s playing next to a very bad tackle, but two years after being a first round pick, you would hope he would rise to the occasion rather than become an even weaker link. Add that to his injury problems and I think it’s time to cut bait.

    I don’t see any guard worth making a high pick in to replace him, especially if Seattle does invest a first rounder in a swing tackle. But there is a potential free agent who, in my opinion, will continue to be a perennial pro bowler: Mike Iupati of the 49ers. Based on SF’s salary cap issues and the overall strength and depth of their O Line, I think they will let him go to the highest bidder. I think Seattle should be that highest bidder. To afford him (think Steve Hutchinson in Minnesota money), someone else will have to be cut and/or not re-signed. But I think it’s the kind of strategic investment that’s worthwhile.

    • Michael says:

      Wow. Bold idea. I would be absolutely shocked if it happened, but if you could get it done without losing Sherm, Earl or too many pass rushers, it would be one hell of a move.

      Do you really think the ‘Niners let him walk?

      • Sam Jaffe says:

        I’m looking at it from a balance of the team perspective–for both teams. When extensions happen on the SF O Line, they will have to pay nearly half their salary cap for that unit to keep it intact. They won’t do that. Since Iupati is coming up next for an extension, it makes sense that he’s the one they regretfully allow to walk out the door.

        Seattle, likewise, will have to pay the bulk of their salary cap to the secondary to keep that unit intact once everyone comes up for extensions. As much as everyone would love to see that happen, I think it won’t. I don’t think the team can afford the extensions for both Sherman and Thomas. I would rather have a dominant offensive line and a very good secondary than a dominant secondary and a crappy O Line.

    • Chris says:

      Agree on all points.

      A swing tackle would also necessitate the team move from their bullheaded approach that being a good run blocker is more important than being a good pass blocker. Even with all our starters this is still an average to below average unit in pass-blocking. A right tackle that can also back up LT would likely need to be one that is lighter on their feet and less in the “power” mold that Cable seems to want in a RT. I think they’ve gotten trapped in their paradigm of going after run-first linemen, as it initially made sense when we had no franchise quarterback. Now that RW is here though, I think they need to re-evaluate what they need in linemen.

      • Chris says:

        Oh, and I should’ve mentioned …

        Whoever drafts any future linemen, I hope Cable’s role is seriously decreased from whatever it was in the Carpenter/Moffitt draft. Those were both hand-picked Cable guys, and they were horrible picks.

        • Attyla the Hawk says:

          The talent wasn’t there in 2011. Lots of teams made horrible OL picks. That year was a desperation year for us as we needed talent immediately there. Bad picks in hindsight notwithstanding, those two guys were in fact upgrades to what we had.

          • Chris says:

            If they’re bad picks, then they shouldn’t have been taken. That 1st rounder really couldn’t have been put to more effective use than picking Carpenter?

            • Miles says:

              Really the only alternative the Seahawks had in the first round was Andy Dalton. There was just no one else Carroll and Schneider had interest in drafting, from what I’ve read. And boy am I glad we didn’t draft Dalton.

              • Miles says:

                It’s easy to say in hindsight, when looking at that draft, we could’ve taken Torrey Smith or Randall Cobb. But of course no one knew those guys we’re going to have such impacts in the NFL. And who knows if either of them would have fit in our system…? I certainly don’t know. Drafting either of those guys also would have seemed a tremendous reach in the first round at the time. We could have even had those guys in the second round if we hadn’t traded back. HOWEVER, had we not traded back we would not have picked up the fifth round choice from Detroit that got us RICHARD SHERMAN.

                So when you play this whole hindsight game, Chris, it’s a big mess. And the bigger picture is what we got in the whole draft, not just the first round pick.

                And if you’re still wondering whether the Seahawks had any other reasonable options in the first round other than to draft James, the answer is no.

              • Rob Staton says:

                I’d argue they also had Jabal Sheard and Colin Kaepernick as alternative options… two guys we liked a lot on this blog…

                • Miles says:

                  Obviously those were great prospects at the time. But as of right now they don’t play in positions we need, because we ended up filling those positions in other ways very successfully, right? If we got Kaepernick we may’ve never drafted Russell Wilson, and this team just doesn’t draft outside linebackers early. Even in hindsight, to me, it appears the Seahawks made a good move as Carp has shown some flashes of a dominant run blocker.

            • Attyla the Hawk says:

              We had four open OL positions. Unger was looking like a complete bust. In hindsight, it’s also easy to lose sight of the context of the team at the time.

              Our line was a complete mess. We were signing players off other teams’ practice squads to our active roster.

            • Attyla the Hawk says:

              Well, we did try to trade back but the offers were not sufficient. Remember too, we traded back from R2 to R3 too.

  5. Attyla the Hawk says:

    Excellent start to the conversation!

    I’ll concede that Okung and Giacomini would improve the unit. But more than the one that struggled mightily in week one? No.

    The reality is, Giacomini isn’t playing for anything close to 2m per year for us next year. We need his salary for extensions. Pretty close to all of it. Regardless when he comes back, by the time the draft rolls around, he’s not in the picture.

    The other reality is, Okung gets hurt. Are they flukey? Sure. But we don’t have a quality RT to slide over so we can insert a league average RT backup to cover. Are we willing to mortgage Wilson’s health on the prospect of Okung playing 16 games. A contingency needs to be available.

    I’m not willing to write off Sweezy or Carp either. But that said, I’m not sold on them as I’m sure you aren’t. If we hold off on succession plans for them in 2014, then we aren’t predrafting for need. Carpenter is a 2.5m cap hit in 2014 and UFA after. So unless we’re extending him for a discount, he’s likely gone regardless.

    As a result, I see non performance need to draft a quality OG prospect at this time. Given the uncertainty of Sweezy’s progress, that need is heightened.

    Overall, I am agreed, that we need OT help more than OG help. However we probably both concede that this FO likes to go upside early at whatever position. As you noted, supply is much higher at OT than OG. We’ve seen Seattle draft in that capacity in 2012 when they needed DE pass rush and speed at LB. Pass rushers were in short supply while LBs were rampantly available. If Seattle believes it needs both, I’d submit that they may do the same in 2014 and select from the top of the OG pool and get value in R2/R4 at OT.

    This assumes of course that they opt for OL early. I’d expect us to trade down, get an OT in the mid 2nd and a WR in the late 2nd. Or flip flop based on how runs on position shake out.

    It’s important to note too, that Seattle could just use UFA to get some average talent as a one year band aid. And then draft in the top of day 3 amongst line talent. Seattle has the option to get creative. They aren’t beholden to taking OL on day 1.

  6. Michael says:

    “…and they discover the art of max protect.”

    Well said. Heretofore I’ve thought our coaching staff was one of the best in the league at making in game adjustments, especially at halftime, and I fully expected them to make that “discovery” at some point in the game. Clearly they did not, and after this ghastly performance my confidence in their ability to adjust is (only a bit) shaken.

    I’ve never played or coached organized football, and I don’t delude myself into thinking I’m a brilliant X’s and O’s guy. That being said, I thought Bevell (as well as Cable and Carroll) spent the entire 20 minutes that we possessed the football banging their respective heads against the wall without making a single adjustment. Ask any asshole sitting on their couch, and they could rattle off a handful of cliche ways to slow down an opponent’s pass rush. The ‘Hawks did none of them. By my count (after only the one viewing) we ran no more than 5 screen passes. Marshawn Lynch, a man/beast capable of gaining yards even when staring at an 8-man box, carried the ball 8 times?? Only 15 rushing attempts in a game where we held the lead for the entire second half?? The continued use of long developing routes, with zero help for your turn-style tackles against two of the league’s top pass rushing ends?? What the hell? Coming out of half time I expected all of these things to be corrected, and yet it was as if the coaches didn’t watch the first 2 quarters of the game. Obviously Russell Wilson owes a lot of Seahawk coaches a lot of money, and is late in paying it back.

    • CHawk Talker Eric says:

      I totally agree. In fact, when I look at the performance of the coaching staff this season compared to last, I think most of the offensive coaches, including Bevell, Cable, Carl Smith (QB) and Kippy Brown (WR) have all regressed. Bevell has had entire games this season where his play calling is quirky at best (like vs CAR) or down right awful at worst (like last night vs STL). Aside from that, there’s been a regression in RW’s play – I’m not criticizing him, but he’s holding the ball much longer and seems to have trouble locating his targets compared to last year. There’s also a regression of the WR corps as a whole. It’s hard to judge effectively when watching a game on TV because the limited field of view prevents me from following the WRs for the entire play, but it looks like they’re having trouble finding space against even mediocre secondaries, and for the most part none of them seem to be in (regular) sync with RW, either in route running or in ad lib time when RW has to scramble – we’ve all seen RW bail out the offense several times this season by making an amazing throw where he places the ball perfectly, but how many times have we seen one of the WRs bail out RW by breaking route and coming back to him, or improvising in some other way to give him a target he can hit?

      So compared to last season, there’s regression in QB play, WR play, QB-WR communication, and in play calling. Something just doesn’t smell right among the offensive coaches.

      On the bright side, Dan Quinn is a clear upgrade over Bradley. His aggressive play calling suits this defense perfectly and his assistant coaches have their respective players performing at high levels. Last season SEA lost a couple of games because the defense couldn’t protect the lead. This year, the defense has stepped up repeatedly and made the play – gotten off the field on 3rd down, take the ball away, protect the lead and close out the game. I doubt Bradley’s defense would have kept the lead last night, but Quinn’s did.

    • glor says:

      Guys, we had 15 rushing attempts on 40 plays for the entire day, we also had 7 sacks for negative 48 yards. Those stats alone show why we only had 15 rushing attempts.. we only had 7 1st downs the entire game.

  7. Sam Jaffe says:

    By the way, did anyone else find the false rumor of the Seahawks’ interest in Jared Allen hilarious? The last thing the team needs is another DE and it doesn’t have a third rounder to trade anyway and no salary cap room either. It made zero sense. I have two hypotheses:
    *SF was bidding on him and because there was no other buyer’s they were about to get him for a fith round draft pick, which would have made them immensely stronger. So Schneider peed in the pool with false interest, which was enough to screw up the deal.
    *John Schneider hates Michael Schefter and planted the rumor to make him look bad. I have no idea why this might be the case, but if that’s why that happened, I would find it hilarious.

    • Kenny Sloth says:

      I feel like they were genuinely interested in Allen, because why not?

      Leave no stone unturned.

      • Colin says:

        I don’t buy for a minute they ever had serious interest. Due diligence at the least, and pissing on the Niners pricetag at most.

  8. KyleT says:

    What is the deal with all the calls for max protect? If it as that obvious to fix our protection woes, maybe we wold have attempted it? We haven’t tried it at all this year, is that possibly because that having 2 fewer skill players attempting to get into space and get open limits our odds for success even more?

    I think what happend in the game plan yesterday once they realized that they were struggling in oth pass protection and run blocking that they were going to try to turn Wilson loose as they had done in previous game plans to roll out, run read options, etc. The Rams schemed specifically for this by bringing a safety down to spy and chase Wilson to the right side so he had no real chance.

    We also turned to the quick pass game, but we had two critical drops here as well as sometimes Wilson was sacked even in the quick pass attempts. When nothing works, you don’t end up with many chances to keep trying new things.

    At least now they will know they need to respond with a different plan as this was going to figured out eventually. Here is what I think they will do:

    1. Harvin is playing this Sunday, they may say its day-to-day…he’s playing.
    2. Staying true to the run game. In the past we have deviated early and found success other ways that allowed us to go back later against an easier scheme. We now see how badly that can go if your other stuff fails. At least if you go 3 and out running the ball you wear down the other defense and take time off the clock that limits how long your d is on the field. And we all know you cannot shutdown beast mode all game long.
    3. Screens. They worked, especially with all the options they have here ( Harvin, Tate, Lynch, Baldwin). I expect to see more this week

    In terms of draft…first 3 picks are going T, big WR/TE possession guy, G. Pretty sure #1 and 2 could be flipped. We need both tackle and guard next year with the bigger need at tackle. I actually like Sentrial Henderson in the 2nd. Dude is huge, plays mean, looks like he can swing to either side but has a few issues that will cause him to drop in the draft. He is an athletic freak though

    • Rob Staton says:

      I wouldn’t be so sure on Harvin. If I was a betting man I’d say we won’t see him for a few weeks yet. Better safe than sorry.

      • John_s says:

        I agree with Rob on Harvin. There were reports all over the sphere that Harvin was set to play against the Rams but then his hip flares up hence the day to day.

        If his hip flares up again between now and Sunday there’s no way they are going to activate him.

        • KyleT says:

          I didn’t hear about the hip, that makes sense, I thought they were just going to keep him out to be safe after he’s ready as they have been doing.

          • Miles says:

            I think they’ll activate him for Minnesota. With the hip flaring up I just think the Seahawks will err on the side of caution. Especially being short-handed with Sidney no longer in the picture.

          • Miles says:

            I think they’ll activate him for Minnesota. With the hip flaring up I just think the Seahawks will err on the side of caution. Especially being short-handed with Sidney no longer in the picture.

  9. Kenny Sloth says:

    A backup FS is still a need in my opinion.
    Earl is playing otherworldly, but he’s probably at least a little human.
    Somewhere in there.

    Our defense goes through him and I’d hate to see any of our backup safeties out there.

    • Chris says:

      I shudder to think of what would happen if ET went down. They’d have to totally change their style of defense.

      • John_s says:

        Two words Chris Maragos at FS. Ouch! Hopefully ET stays healthy or else the deep center is in trouble.

        • Miles says:

          The only way for the Hawks to get a safety who could come in if Earl went down (knock on wood) is to draft one that’s similar to him in the early rounds. This year the name that keeps flying around is Calvin Pryor, who reminds a lot of ET. The only question is are you willing to spend a second round pick on a guy who you hope never plays substantial snaps.

          • John_s says:

            One player that I’ve enjoyed watching this year is Deone Buchanan. He flies around and lays the word. Don’t know if he’s better suited as a SS in the NFl but I think he’s going to have a nice career.

            If you draft a safety in the 2nd round to backup Earl I can see that guy being the 3rd safety in thei dime packages. Essentially replace Jeron Johnson

  10. Steeeve says:

    I’m starting to become quite skeptical of Cable’s skills. We’re now entering year 4 of his tenure and our problems are still much the same as they were when he got here. When healthy, this line is great at run blocking, but still average or worse in pass protection. His projects have yet to really pan out. Carpenter and Moffitt were his picks. Carpenter is a failed tackle who still struggles with maddening inconsistency, and probably still wouldn’t be starting if not for Okung’s injury. Sweezy is a nice project, but should he really be in a position for on-the-job training? For all his time here, Sweezy, McQuistan, and Giacomini are the best we have to offer? Going back to his Raider days, where exactly does he get his reputation from?

    I really wouldn’t hate it if Cable and Bevell left for other coaching gigs after this year. I think we could see the same massive improvement we have in the defense since Bradley and Quinn left.

    • Ben2 says:

      Yeah, the offense hasn’t made the strides it needs to. Just like when Bradley left, I think we should aim for a new O-coordinator more creative….mYbe tap someone from the college ranks that will know how to use RW and Percy to spread opposing defenses out.

      • Miles says:

        I think it’s way too early to say either of Cable and Bevell should get the boot. The problems we’ve been having on our offense, i think, are larger than them. I think of all the success they had last year with Bevell’s playcalling and Cable’s line calls that helped Marshawn to get over 1,500 yards and to put up 50-burgers on lowly teams, it just boggles my mind if the coaches aren’t those guys anymore. Let’s see what happens the rest of the season, let’s see what happens when they get their o-tackles back before we call for their heads.

    • Attyla the Hawk says:

      I couldn’t disagree more. This team has excelled at it’s primary mandate. Without having to sacrifice draft capital to do it. We wanted to take better o line talent. But we were a victim of our own success and weren’t able to get them before others did.

      And let’s be real here. We traded our first round pick away and haven’t seen the result of that trade. So it feels like this year was a bust in the draft. Let’s revisit that when we see the return.

  11. Lineman says:

    Is it too much to ask for lineman that can run block AND pass block??? I guess offensive linemen is the most difficult position to play in the NFL behind QB. Every position on the Seahawks has upgraded the skill of players and backups every year…..except the offensive line.

    I say our first 3 draft picks be offensive lineman.

    • Rob Staton says:

      Let’s consider they also spent early picks on three offensive linemen, including two first rounders, in their first two drafts. We can hardly accuse them of failing to address the line.

      • glor says:

        Is it addressing the line if the picks were all busts though? I mean at the end of the day, you can’t say they didn’t try to make it work with those guys.. but like teams who go after QB’s, you have to realize at some point it isn’t working, and re up.

        • Rob Staton says:

          Sure, but you also have to give your guys a chance. My point is they haven’t ignored the line. They may now need to replace components of it — but they addressed it as a priority from day one.

        • Attyla the Hawk says:

          In short: Yes we addressed it. The draft is a risk. We WILL bust on some picks. It’s a certainty.

          And we didn’t/don’t consider the matter closed. Sometimes, circumstance results in being unable to get what you want. We want to improve the line. We wanted to improve the line. I expect we will be more aggressive in addressing it in 2014. Remember, our #1 need last year was pass rush. That absolutely factored in our ability to address our secondary need.

          Pass pro is our biggest need now. I love how we go about fixing our primary issues. I’m bullish on our ability to get this right this offseason.

    • MJ says:

      First 3 picks? What makes you think high picks automatically = good OL play? Because we’ve invested high picks along the line.

      I am not sure if people have really looked at late 1st round OL recently and seen how poorly they have performed. This is what happens when you panic and arbitrarily pick OL high, thinking this is an automatic cure for the OL.

      How’s Eric Fisher doing? How about Lane Johnson?

      Now, if the right guy is there, then by all means draft with the intention that you think he’s great. What I don’t want to see, is us passing on Sammy Watkins or Odell Beckham because “we have to spend high picks all the time on the OL.”

  12. Phil says:

    Following up on some of the poor game-planning comments, it’s almost like Bevell and the other offense coaches spent the entire time between the Arizona game and the St. Louis game getting Harvin ready to play in the offensive scheme, and then deciding late in the process that he was not going to play. But, this still doesn’t explain why they didn’t use the TEs to help the tackles with the Ram’s pass rush or why they didn’t run more screens or even draw plays.

    In trying to find something positive to take away from this game, I guess it’s consoling to think that in the past, it’s a 99% certainty that we would have lost this game. What my main worry is is that the Rams have drawn up a blueprint on how to beat the Seahawks and we had better make some serious adjustments before we face a “goood” team who will use that blueprint. One idea that I’ve been mulling over is to add a split-back formation (using Lynch together with Robinson or even Miller) to add an extra pass protector to the backfield. We could even go to a full-house backfield with three backs plus RW like I’ve seen the Broncos use a few times this season. The potential downside to these approaches is that they add extra layers of clutter to the pocket and adding extra bodies may cut down on RW’s ability to escape the pocket like he likes to.

    On another issue, what happens to Luke Willson after the initial series of each week’s game? It seems like he makes a good play in the first series, and then he disappears for the rest of the game. It’s like they script a “special” play into the first series for him and once they check that box, they are content to relegate him to last place on RW’s progressions list.

    • Miles says:

      I would say that it would be good to do split backfields on obvious passing downs with this line, and keep one or two of the backs in to block. One of those guys would be Michael Robinson and the other guy could be Miller or Marshawn. I’ve had thoughts about, when and if Derrick Coleman comes back, having two-back split formations with Robinson and Coleman. Maybe even line them up beside Russell in the pistol formation and have Marshawn line up in the backfield. This way it’s unpredictable which way you’re going to block on a run play and always the possibility to chip the defensive ends with the fullbacks.

  13. Colin says:

    Ok now that the rant period has worn off, let’s have a little perspective:

    To those saying the coaches have “regressed”…. please. They’re still winning football games, which is priority number one.

    It was only a matter of time before this silly belief came up. Gus Bradley was a fine coordinator here who didn’t have the pass rushers at his disposal Dan Quinn does, but somehow he was a detriment to this team because they played a ton of over the top coverage.

    The success is spoiling people. While I agree that the Rams game was poorly prepared for, it’s ONE game, and if not mistaken, the Seahawks are 14-2 in their last 16 regular season games. Let’s chill out a bit.

    • Rob Staton says:

      I agree completely with this.

      • AlaskaHawk says:

        I take the opposite view based on three games out of eight where we have struggled to convert third downs. 2 out of 12 attempts, 3 out of 12. The Hawks are struggling. Even if we get our starters back, it will take a few games for them to get in playing condition. And while I love our starters, I don’t love their injury prone history (Harvin and Okung). We can’t count on them to be healthy.

        So I support a change in offensive coaching next year, and that we draft 3-4 offensive linemen and see if we can get a few good starters or backups

        • Rob Staton says:

          I’m not sure any team can struggle to a 7-1 record.

          The pass protection has been hammered due to injuries. But let’s be right here, the offense hasn’t struggled apart from the Rams mess. I didn’t see much struggle in that 98 yard drive against Houston, or the physical beat down against San Fran, or the way they closed out the game in Carolina, or the way they took apart a good Arizona defense.

          Our expectations are growing and we expect the best. But let’s also retain some perspective. We’re Okung and Breno away from being back to our best.

    • glor says:

      I would have to disagree a bit here. Our offense has not been winning us football games, our defense has. Look at our offense from the last half of last year, and look at it in it’s entirety this year. Night and Day
      The offense has seriously regressed, the 1st team looked like crap in the preseason, and looked average at best early in the season. These last few weeks, it has been even worse.

      Same personnel .. so who are you going to blame, the players, the coaches, or both. Personally I’m pointing the finger at both. I’m not looking at one game here, if Sherm doesn’t INT Shaub, we loose to the texans, if Sherm doesn’t have a good run back against the rams on an INT, we loose to the rams. If Doug doesn’t make a fantastic grab of a throwaway ball from wilson in the carolina game, I say we probably loose there also, as I think it was that drive that gave us our only TD. I could go on.

      How do we end that Rams game with 3 timeouts left, i’m sorry but that was bad coaching also in the rams game.

      • glor says:

        I’ll also point this out:
        3rd down conversion rate:
        #1 Denver Broncos
        #3 Kansas City
        #16 Indy
        #27 Seahawks

      • glor says:

        We are also #1 in the league for penalty yards.. which also comes back to coaching.

        Now don’t get me wrong, I love PC, bu the other guys have got to step it up.

        • Miles says:

          Okay, how can you put the blame on the assistant coaches but not Pete Carroll? He’s the guy who has the ultimate power on what goes into the offense and what doesn’t. He’s a huge part of all this. Now, I’m more on the side of Rob and Colin here. It’s way too early to be putting such negative connotations on the coaching staff because of one horrendous game. The offense has shown well this year in other instances. Just one week earlier, our offense was pretty dominant against a solid Cardinals D. And even in their worst offensive game against the Rams, the Seahawks O was still able to score an amazing 80-yard touchdown win that helped us win the game. From an optimist’s point of view, you can say the Seahawks didn’t play well on Sunday but did just enough to give the defense a chance to win the game for them.

          And that’s why I do not like the nitpicking with how the Seahawks used their timeouts in the final seconds. Pete Carroll obviously trusted the defense to win the game for us, and they did. There’s no doubt about it. When you have a defense that’s this good, it’s a waste to not put the game in their hands when it’s on the line. Especially the goal line.

          • glor says:

            Oh I think PC is obviously part of it, but it is also his philosophy along with JS that has gotten us where we are. It is the execution that we are nitpicking, and I would say execution comes down more to position coaches or coordinators than PC or JS. For instance, if Cable went to PC and said we needed to trade for xyz player because we needed help on the oline or we needed to bring in xyz free agent, I think you would see seattle do it (just like the pats just did), however cable is obviously happy with his current set of guys. How much do you think PC is influencing the offensive game plan? He seems to be the type to let his guys run their systems (at least on offense) as we saw in his 1st year in seattle. We have a huge amount of depth on defense, why don’t we have it on the oline? Okung is often injured, Breno was more uncharacteristic so I’ll give Cable the pass on the RT situation, but not having a decent backup for Okung is on Cable. There are other teams that are missing Tackles, I would say our oline is faring the worst with our replacements.

  14. Jeff M. says:

    My estimates of who is back/gone next year position by position and how that translates into draft needs:

    QB: Wilson, Daniels (Jackson signs elsewhere to compete for starting position) – possible late round pick to compete for backup role
    RB: Lynch, Turbin, Michael, plus two of Ware/Coleman/Robinson – no needs
    WR: Harvin, Tate, Baldwin, Kearse (Rice released) – mid-to-late round need (I know this will be controversial to some, but we’ve already spent a 1st, a 2nd, and a 3rd on Harvin and Tate and will be paying them both big money…we’re not adding another 1st round receiver to the mix)
    TE: Willson, maybe Miller – late round need if Miller kept; early-to-mid round need if released (and in particular we would need a true Y, not a big WR type)
    OL: Okung, Unger, Carpenter, Sweezy, Bowie, Bailey (Breno and McQuistan both gone unless they take big pay cuts) – one early plus two mid-to-late round needs (starting RT, backup LT/RT, backup G who can compete for starting spot) unless Bowie/Bailey look really promising by end of season

    Non-LEO DL: Bennett, one of Mebane/Bryant (other released), Hill, Scruggs, Williams, ? – early round need unless FO is really high on Hill/Williams, probably one or two late round needs unless one/both of McDonald/McDaniel return cheaply
    LEO/SAM: one of Clemons/Avril (other released), Irvin, Mayowa, ? – possible early round need, late unless Schofield returns cheaply
    Other LB: Wagner, Wright, Smith, ? (Farwell probably released) – late round need
    CB: Sherman, one of Browner/Thurmond (other signs elsewhere), Maxwell, Lane, Simon – late round need
    S: Thomas, Chancellor, ? – mid-to-late round need, possibly early if there’s a guy who could back up both spots and get playing time in subpackages

    So by my calculations for early rounds we should be looking for OL, DT, maybe LEO, maybe Y TE, and maybe versatile hybrid S type if that guy exists. Middle rounds add more OL and a WR to that list (and late rounds basically anything goes).

    • James says:

      nice list…. is Thurmond a restricted FA? That might keep his price down vs. Browner? Miller was a huge cap hit this year, but I believe that his cap is very reasonable next year, a likely keep. Yes, only one each of Clemons/Avril and Bryant/Mebane. Clemons is the better player, but older and therefore likely to miss significant time to injury going forward. Mebane can be replaced far easier than Bryant. They will keep Lynch for at least one more year, I believe. Back-load the Okung, Thomas and Sherman contracts so the higher cap kicks in before the huge dollars. RW contract should fall in the first year of the expanded cap.

  15. Eran Ungar says:

    Great work rob.

    Yes, the Oline needs any help it can get.

    However, allow me to point to a few aspects of this Oline -

    When your head coach defines his team as a run first offense.
    When your Oline coach declares – We do not like to play pin cushions we like to tattoo people.
    When you play ZBS that Alex gibbs said – If you want a ZBS offense to work you must practice nothing else.

    You get -
    “I’ve seen a lot of positive plays by Carpenter in the run game” or “Sweezy, who likewise has made several key blocks in the running game”…
    Breno is also a great run blocker but note the greatest pass protector.

    As long as pass protection will be a 2nd priority it will look like a 2nd priority job. 2nd priority jobs are not enough to stop the Quinns and Longs.

    Last remark – I’m not sure i’m right about this but it seems that the Oline is build with solutions to stop one key pass rusher but once faced with teams showing 2 elite aggressive pass rushers it falls apart. The rams with Quinn and Long has been our kryptonite since last season, as long as Cushines was in the game with J.J. Watt it was the same.

  16. Dan says:

    Good read Rob. I haven’t had time to scout draft prospects this year, but looking from the outside in, I assume our draft priorities will be dictated by free agency.

    Rice just tore his ACL and is obviously overpayed.
    Bennett will be a free agent. At the rate he’s been playing, he should get payed.
    And the aforementioned tandem of McQuiston and Giacomini are free agents.

    Bailey/Bowie are intriguing rookies and Jermaine Kearse will have a chance to prove himself.

    So, taking a step back… We know there’s been a revolving door at the 3-Tech for this team. We all just witnessed how “inexperienced” our depth is at the offensive tackle positions. And we’ll see how dynamic this WR corps will be with Harvin back and Rice out.

    So for me, draft priorities can’t be determined until we see how this all plays out.
    GO HAWKS!

  17. James says:

    Rob, people (including JS) often talk of drafting a QB every year and letting them sort themselves out, and groom the good ones for a nice profitable trade a couple of years down the road. That is all well and good, but how often does that actually happen? Matt Flynn? Anyway, why not use the strategy with O linemen? Draft a couple every year and then trade them down the road. Except, with the state of the O lines in the league, and the number of injuries because their huge bodies cannot tolerate the physics of today’s game of ultra speed and strength, you could command a king’s ransom for a good young one that you really don’t need.

  18. James says:

    Logically, the top four picks would be WR/TE, OT, TE/WR and OG. The McQuistan model cannot be taken into next year, please god!

    • Attyla the Hawk says:

      Each year we draft: OL/LB/CB/DL. I don’t see that changing much.

      I’m kind of doubting we go TE. I think Willson is developing nicely and if we wanted to let Miller go, getting a blocking TE is cheap in UFA. Also McCoy could be retained as well.

      I don’t see a real need to release Miller in 2014. In 2015 sure. Miller has been productive for us.