Further thoughts following Seattle’s loss to Kansas City

August 22nd, 2015 | Written by Rob Staton

This picture’s a bad example, but Seattle’s starting O-line performed well in Kansas City

Do the Seahawks need Evan Mathis?
This was a silly question 24 hours ago. However, there were positive signs for the offensive line in Kansas City and Justin Britt looks a lot more comfortable at left guard. Mathis is taking a physical with the Seahawks today although it’s unclear if he’s even remotely likely to sign with interest elsewhere. If they sign Mathis, he’s your left guard. It’d basically be an admission that Britt was a busted pick — and I’m not sure Seattle will go down that road just yet even if Mathis provides more of a sure thing. Britt’s strength and tenacity works well inside and one of his first blocks against the Chiefs saw him drive a defender five yards off the LOS. At right tackle Gary Gilliam equally showed a lot of potential against a tough pass-rushing D-line with only one serious whiff. On the evidence of last night the Seahawks have finally identified their best five guys and maybe it’s time to let them run with it. They made their bed on the O-line by trading Max Unger and letting others walk (eg Breno Giacomini). They encouraged change. Now they have to let the young guys learn and gel. Mathis would be an expensive, albeit appealing, stop-gap. He doesn’t solve Seattle’s biggest issue — protecting the right side of the line. Mathis in some ways is a luxury that upgrades left guard but doesn’t address the issues they have defending speed on the right side. It’s up to Gilliam to own that spot. I’m not convinced they’ll think the cost is worth adding Mathis to move Britt out of the line-up.

Graham needs to be a focal point
We know the Seahawks aren’t going to change their philosophy to accommodate one player and the last thing they want to do is change the offense dramatically for Jimmy Graham. They made that mistake with Percy Harvin. Yet Graham isn’t an orthodox tight end and it’ll be a waste if he’s tasked to help out a young offensive line in pass protection. Even though he isn’t in an air-raid attack like the Drew Brees scheme in New Orleans — he’s a genuine superstar pass catcher and it’s Seattle’s duty to exploit him and use him as much as possible. Is it a false concern to expect anything else? Possibly — but look at the major reduction in Zach Miller’s productivity when he swapped Oakland for Seattle. Whether it’s first down, third down, in the red zone — Graham is nearly impossible to cover 1v1. He might play tight end — but really that just secures the best mismatch. When they targeted him against KC in a short flurry you could see how effective he was. The Seahawks have, for the first time under Pete Carroll, a genuine big target and game-changer catching passes. Go to the well. It’ll be fascinating to see two things. 1 — how the appearance of Marshawn Lynch impacts the way teams approach Graham and 2– whether the Seahawks can get him his targets every week, even if they have to force things a little. He’s that good.

Are we seeing a minor shift in identity on defense?
For so long the secondary was the main focus — rich in talent and attitude. The defensive line has always had good players (it did depend on Chris Clemons for a pass rush between 2010 and 2012) but it’s never been the foundation of the defense. With the Legion of Boom banged up (and in one case sat at home) it’s timely that Seattle’s D-line appears better than ever. Michael Bennett has carried on his form from the end of last season and is emerging as one of the game’s truly elite disruptors. Cliff Avril and Bruce Irvin are complimenting Bennett with pressure off the edge. Yet it’s the new-found depth that ultimately shines through. Frank Clark already looks like a second round steal and Cassius Marsh is capable of spelling the starters adequately. Jordan Hill and Ahtyba Rubin offer a nice blend of size and pass rush while Brandon Mebane looks quicker than ever. If the LOB needs a little extra help this year — they might just get it from this unit. The D-line is loaded.

70 Responses to “Further thoughts following Seattle’s loss to Kansas City”

  1. Cameron says:

    I wouldn’t be surprised to see Britt resume his duties at RT should we sign Mathis. I, like everyone else, was impressed with what Gilliam showed at RT last night. Let’s not fool ourselves, however, this is a run first team and Tom Cable loves run blockers. I’m not sure if Gary Gilliam has the requisite abilities in the run game to hold down that position.

    I think we all focused on Britt’s failures in pass pro in that Denver game, but the issue at LG has been looming over the offense since the beginning of pre-season. Moving Britt to LG is probably just a case of getting the best line-up on the field.

    • DC says:

      True that Britt could go back to starting RT.
      How about a 2 TE set on passing downs with Graham on the left and Gilliam as our blocking TE next to Britt. Essentially 2 RTs. That has to slow pass rushers down.

      • manthony says:

        The flip side to that is, Cable has proven he can coach lineman up to run block, where as playing pass pro against NFL DE’s requires a certain amount of athleticism that Britt doesnt possess.
        Should be interesting to see what route they go.
        Britt maybe to Center or RG might be a possibilty

    • James says:

      As a number of observers have speculated, I believe the Mathis interest is more due to concerns about the C position than the LG position. Britt has the makings of a very good guard, and Bailey or even Glow could play the position. Mathis would obviously be the better option, which would probably move Britt to center, but could he possibly get ready for St L in two weeks? Based on his size and savvy, Mathis might be the ideal center, but is he willing to make the move with so little time to prepare? I think Gilliam is very promising at RT, now that Pete and Cable seem to have let go of the run first, run second and run third priority for the position, and surrendered to the importance of pass pro on the edge.

  2. DC says:

    If Mathis is signed that doesn’t mean that Britt is a busted pick. To me it means that in a season where every other position group outside of the O line might be at or near the best we’ve ever seen, we still have a very legitimate concern that this group of linemen could cost us a Championship.

    Britt would at worst get a year to learn under Mathis. He very well could see the field due to injuries. Depth would surely be better.

    I would still consider Myers to come in at C to solidify this group over Mathis at G but I won’t complain with either signing.

    $,$$$,$$$. We shall see.

    • Rob Staton says:

      Generally a second round pick is drafted to be more than depth though. They moved him off RT for a reason — if they feel obliged to now sign Mathis to play LG instead of Britt it’s pretty close to being a bust.

      • CestrianHawk says:

        An alternative view might be that they are more worried about left guard, and moving Britt there with Gilliam at RT is the best current option to deal with it. Signing Mathis is another way of solving that problem and would allow them to return Britt to RT. So I’m not sure it would be a sign of them ‘feeling obliged to replace Britt at LG’.

      • DC says:

        If Britt is a bust he’s a bust, no argument there. So far to my eyes he looks like he doesn’t care for Russel Wilson very much. Hopefully he has some value to the team going forward.

        Signing another lineman, Mathis, Myers or someone else indicates to me that the FO realizes the current group of O lineman may potentially submarine the team’s otherwise brilliant Championship hopes this season, that they missed their guess on the talent level of this current group and are now making a correction. Okung is the only proven commodity on this line and even he scares me with injury history.

        Regardless of whether they sign a proven vet, I, like you, believe that the Hawks will takes their lumps early in the year but come on strong when it counts. This O line should be much improved by season’s end.

        • Volume12 says:

          What do you mean by ‘he looks like he doesn’t care for RW very much?’

          • DC says:

            Meaning Britt has been a bit of a matador in pass protection as a RT.
            I know he’s not letting them in on purpose, just being a smartass.

  3. Volume12 says:

    Intersting point there about the D-line Rob.

    As much as I like Gilliam, I think he’s just the starting RT this year and provides Seattle with great, athletic depth on the edge of the O-line either way. Hopefully he proves me wrong.

    I like Britt at LG. Love his mentality for that spot. Kind of hoping they don’t sign Mathis and just let this unit grow together and gain some continuity.

    • cha says:

      I seriously doubt the OL will ever have sustained continuity in the PC/TC era. They seem to have built an organizational philosophy that at least 3/5 of the line are filled with young, low-cost players and projects. Okung and Sweezy are FA’s after this season and so there likely will be another shakeup.

      • AlaskaHawk says:

        That makes it even more important that they draft wisely. There are players at the mid -late rounds who go on to have good careers in the NFL. We can see it happening in the defense. They made a couple solid picks at running back this year. Plus there are players from other teams they could pick up during the cuts. So lots of opportunities. I even got faith in Gilliam!!!

  4. cha says:

    It’s quite possible the LBs have improved as much as the DL. Wright showed he continues to have that near psychic ability to sniff out a screen and run it down. Irvin is now strong enough to set the edge and doesn’t appear to have lost much game speed. Wagner jumped more than one route, and KPL is going to force the Hawks to find some snaps for him. Coyle is a great backup and Morgan is good on special teams.

    The front seven could really cover for the LOB as they shake off the rust and integrate the new guys the first few weeks.

    • Volume12 says:

      Great point about the LBs aka ‘Hawk Eyez.’ And Pinkins is a nice project player as well.

    • bigDhawk says:

      Didn’t see much out of Coyle that impressed me and Wagz, for all his athleticism, is still over pursuing out of his gap and allowing cutback runs. I wanted to throw my remote at the TV more than once because of big plays he allowed.

  5. peter says:

    I for one think a defensive shift is a good thing. A little balance is going to a long way towards maintaining a defensive juggernaut and put an end to getting killed by short passing games/ not being all that great at getting after the QB.

    As per the oline. I’d just role with it and get everyone up to game speed on the same page as fast as possible.

  6. Forrest says:

    The DL and LB groups will make up for the “injury slump” in the secondary, and really the only defensive piece I’m worried about is Kam. The way it’s going with him, he either gets his deal, or he gets traded. I don’t see them dealing with Kam sitting out all season…then again this could just be another issue that we the fans (and sports media) put to much into, and think we know what’s going on when we really don’t. Defense looked great.

    OL looked way better than last week. I think that Chris Myers would be both more valuable and cheaper than Mathis. Once we see full games with the same OL and Beast-Mode shows up to work, the OL should look significantly better. Other offensive thoughts: I think Kearse is not worth 2mil, and I know they won’t cut him because when he shows up he really does make noise, but he’s not worth that much. Jimmy looked great, and I predict an average of 80 yards and 1-2 TDs per game come the regular season. I think the “starters” at WR will be Baldwin, Lockett, and Matthews (or Kearse). Also, C-Mike actually looked pretty good out there, and Turbin didn’t look that great in comparison…another two weeks like this, and he may be the number 2 guy. The next two weeks I really want to see some real offensive production from both the first and second stringers.

    ST was kind of quiet last night…and not in a good way. They’ll be fine though, I think KC just had a “flashier” night on ST.

  7. Trevor says:

    I have really liked Gilliam’s athleticism and length since day #1. Remember her is a converted tight end. He looks a little bigger this year as well. He could put another 20 lbs on his frame easily. I think if he can survive weeks #1 and #2 then he has a chance to grow into a real solid NFL tackle. That is something we could never say about Britt. I will say Britt looked much better at Guard which I have been hoping for since I saw him play his first game at tackle. Those short arms were meant for a Guard not a Tackle. I am still not a fan of Britts but at least I think he has a shot to be an average Guard which is all we really need. I was beating the drum for Mathis but I don’t view him as such a priority at last for now.

    Also lets get Okung locked up early this year. If we don’t know his value now we never will.

  8. smitty1547 says:

    McGill may be cut the way Williams is playing, but nobody wanted him as a free agent so an easy player to stash on practice squad, and if we do sign Mathis, I think Gilliam proved he should be at this point the favorite over Brit to start at right tackle. He was going against one of the best in the business with his first start and played great. Iā€™m another who think we would be fine with out Kearse and hang on to one of the others

    • Trevor says:

      Agee 100% on all points. Kearse has to go and save the 2.3 mil cap hit. Really like McGill so far though. The DL is stacked.

    • bigDhawk says:

      I don’t trust Monstar to stay healthy and there is now enough good tape on McGill that he likely will not make it through waivers. If we have to cut DLineman, hate to say it but I would cut Monstar.

    • James says:

      I view McGill as a one-gap guy, penetrating into the backfield, and Williams as the classic two-gap, who can shut down the run game on his side of the line. I would be happy if the Seahawks could keep the following 5 DTs: Mebane, Rubin, Hill, Williams and McGill. It is possible that both Williams and McGill could clear waivers and be stashed on the practice squad. With his health issues, it is difficult to see another team placing Williams on their 53 man roster. McGill is a complete unknown, but it always scares me that some other team is going to loot our roster for one of John’s hidden gems.

  9. Trevor says:

    As for the DL I can’t wait to see Week #1 when the Rams get a holding call and it is 3d and 15-20. The hawks stroll out Bennet and Clark at DT with Avril and Irvin outside. Good luck with their OL. If the LOB gets healthy this truly could be our most dominant Defense yet.

    Also I almost threw up when Bevel said they weren’t going to do anything special with the offense for Graham. Really you have the best mismatch receiver in the NFL and you aren’t going to try and take advantage of it. Makes about as much sense as running a slant at the 1 yard line to Ricado Lockette with the Super Bowl on the line. Oh wait he made that call too.

    • bigDhawk says:

      The ‘Hawks are not tipping their hand about anything in the preseaon. I suspect they will utilize Jimmy very effectively when it counts.

      • manthony says:

        Im with Trevor, Bevell hasnt really fielded that strong of a unit in his time here. Whats it been 5 years? More then enough time to establish a functional offense. Russ and the Beast improvising ways of getting yards has very little to do with Bevell.

        • Coug1990 says:

          Your hatred of Bevell keeps you from seeing what is going on. This will be Bevell’s 5th year. The first OC under Carroll was fired after that first season. The Seahawks have been among the most efficient offensive teams the last few years and among the top 10 in scoring as well. They led the NFL in explosive plays last season and the improvising is built into the offense.

          Go ahead and hate on Bevell if you will, but at least criticize him for things that are real.

          • manthony says:

            What did i say? Is Marshawn trucking guys and shaking them out of there shoes just attributed to how Bevell draws it up? Is Russ escaping a blitzer and scrambling for his life all part of that too? The point being, the extra effort made by the players is the impressive part of this offense, not the OC. That is not an outlandish statement at all, amd is very much based in reality

    • franks says:

      That’s exactly the sort of stubborn approach I’ve come to expect from Bevel and it doesn’t sound to me like he’s keeping his cards to his chest. This why they pay him the big bucks, because he’s such a hard working coordinator always coming up with new ideas and innovative ways he can give our offense an advantage. What a marvelous coordinator.

  10. Hawkdawg says:

    I think the Hawks don’t spend a lot of time worrying about outside perceptions on the issue of a “busted pick”. Harvin cost them two picks and a chunk of dead money, and they got rid of him. On the merits, I think they sign a 33 year old LG only if he comes cheap. And Mathis won’t be cheap, from the sounds of it. For what it’s worth, Britt said in the locker room after the game that he thinks LG allows him to play to more of his strengths. I hope that is right, and believe it is, too.

    • Coug1990 says:

      Mathis will only sign on the Seahawks terms. If he wants a great chance at getting a ring, he will come to Seattle. If it is more like Jared Allen last season and he wants to be paid, then he will play somewhere else.

  11. smitty1547 says:

    Trevor as much as u cant wait for our stacked Dl to go against the rams on a 3rd and long, we have to go against there stacked DL every play.

  12. rowdy says:

    So the hawks just signed George farmer to be a db. I remember a couple of you talking about him through The draft process. 5 star prospect super athletic but injured for usc. This is the only place I’ve heard people talk about him! This blog has a great eye for the hawks.

    • bigDhawk says:

      They did? Wow that’s sweet. I brought up his name a few times: here, here, and here. That signing slipped through the cracks for me but I’ll be watching close now. Thanks.

      • rowdy says:

        I believe it happened today but the Mathis story is the one everyone is watching. I don’t think it means much more then a potential ps player. After watching McNeil last week a I’m intrigued on what they do with him. He has a great size/speed combo but we’re deep at the spot imo. 11 dbs out yesterday and it didn’t look like we were weak there.

    • Volume12 says:

      Nice. I even liked him as a WR. PC has known him since he was in 5th or 6th grade, because his sister dated former USC D-linman Kenechi Udeze. He attended the same HS as P-Rich and Marqise Lee. There’s some familiarity there for sure. Thanks for the update.

  13. HOUSE says:

    I think Britt stays at LG and Gilliam will continue to play RT. I think the smart thing would be to use Alvin Bailey as the blocking TE/6th OL stacked on the right side (last year did a lot on the left). I think Mathis is an unnecessary signing. I believe the name drop of SEA was a tire-kick and more to do with getting his name out there for other teams.

    I think the DL has made tremendous strides…The pass rush that Bennett/Avril and Clark/Marsh bring off the edges is going to be scary. Hill/Mebane/Rubin will collapse the middle and really disrupt things. The LB corps is amazing. Bobby and KJ are monsters and while I think this will be Irvin’s last year in SEA, we have depth in Morgan/Coyle/KPL/Pinkins…

    We obviously haven’t seen the LOB out there and we need to get the Kam situation under control. I don’t see a hole in our starting DEF… I might feel REAL bad for some of our opponents this year…

  14. Matt says:

    I’m not sure I’d call our Dline resurgence a shift. Rather the unit looks to have caught up with the back 7. If the LOB gets healthy and Kam comes back this will be our best defense yet. That’s saying a lot! Theres great depth at every defensive position. The core are all in their primes. All signs point to continued dominance!

    • manthony says:

      Well with Marsh and Williams being healthy, and drafting Frank Clark, there’s 3 guys who will be new contributors this year, who are all young unprovens with a lot of potential upside. Rubins a new guy. Jordan Hill came on strong last year, im excited to see if he can build on that. And Bane, Irvin, Avril, Bennett, our 4 proven vets of the bunch, all appeared to have improved in the offseason.
      Im more excited and confident in our Dline then i have ever been. It may be blind optimism, but i think we’re really gonna get to the QB this year

      • Volume12 says:

        I’m with ya there manthony. This D-line could be scary good. Nascar packages, 3-4 schemes, traditional 4-3, big run-stuffing lines, I mean the possibilities are truly endless and damn exciting. With D’Anthony Smith cracking a rib unfortunately, maybe they can now keep ‘Monstar’ and T.Y. McGill.

  15. Shoudhawk says:

    Mathis is just a Long shot…getting to
    The point that should we cap cut one more
    Veteran player, it would have negative impact
    In the locker room.

    Take a good look at Britt at lg in the
    KC game..he was drivin his man 5 yards back,
    and effective in pass pro. He’ll do great
    At that spot.

  16. line_hawk says:

    Off topic but seems like we have too many receivers. Will a WR needy team like Carolina trade a 6th or conditional 5th for Kearse?

    • HOUSE says:

      CAR has said they aren’t panicking and looking for an immediate replacement at WR. That being said, if there’s a WR for them available that could help them, they’d bite. I don’t know if they’d want Kearse. He burned them a few years back on a game winning TD catch

      • Rob Staton says:

        Trading Kearse would be a bad move IMO. Think of all the big plays he’s made the last two years. Worth having around.

        • line_hawk says:

          Yes, he has had some big plays (& some bad ones). But is the drop off from Kearse to Norwood or Kasen Williams that drastic? Keep in mind that Kearse’s snap count is going down with Graham & Lockett/Richardson coming in. And he is in the last year of his contract.

          The one thing he has going for him is special teams contribution. I think this kinda trade is far from likely to happen but I would love to save the salary cap & get back the pick we lost with Seisey.

          • Volume12 says:

            I get that Kearse can be frustrating at times, but this is a team that had all of it’s starting wideouts in the past SB come from the UDFA ranks. He fits what they look for/want. Clutch, great teammate, does all the little things consistently, good run blocker, gritty, wins the red-line throws, vey good ST player.

            IDK I just think expecting a rookie or somthing to come in and do all the things Kearse does is misplaced expectations. He’s a good possession receiver that has chemistry with RW.

  17. Old but Slow says:

    Is anyone concerned about the play of Cary Williams at CB? He seemed to get owned by the KC receivers, turning him around and gaining great space. He is a veteran, and I expected him to be a press corner type, but he didn’t seem to show any of that in this game. Am I missing something here?

    • david ess says:

      I don’t think there is much to worry about. Its pre-season and there is little to no game planning its more or less experimenting with different things. That being said he hasn’t looked great but that may come down to trust with his safeties.

      I am hoping Simon can beat him out for the starter position so he can be cut next year and save us some money to put towards Sweezy and maybe Okung.

    • Rob Staton says:

      I am not overly concerned. He had one bad play against KC. They gave him a lot of snaps partly due to the injuries but also I think to help him schematically.

      • Volume12 says:

        Neither am I. Cary’s job will be to keep everyting in front of him. He’ll really benefit fom having ET over the top of him.

    • arias says:

      Cary’s weakness has been that he’s not good at tracking the ball, so he gets turned around and that sometimes leads to big burns. I don’t expect that to miraculously change for a 30 year old corner. What I hope for is that the team can do some things schematically and with their talent to minimize the damage when he does get turned around.

      But he will be picked on this year. Opposing QBs will no doubt go early and often to his side to test him in preference to throwing at Sherm, so we’ll know soon how well he fares and if he can come anywhere close to Maxwell’s solid play on that side or if they need to make further adjustments to account for his shortcomings. If Simon is healthy maybe he can legitimately challenge him for playing time in that 2nd CB spot on the outside.

  18. Clayton says:

    Rob, what has the word been on Terry Poole? I recently read he has been a big disappointment. Have not read much else.

  19. sdcoug says:

    Rubin. Not a name I’ve heard much mention of since camp started. I remember a Pete quote early on saying he was a big, athletic man, but nothing since. Is he dinged up? Any practice or game nods I’ve missed?

    • Volume12 says:

      Athyba Rubin? He’s replaced Tony McDaniel in the starting lineup. Looks like a great FA signing. Does the dirty work, hard to move off his spot, pursues the ball well, I think he’s played good and seems to fit right in.

      • sdcoug says:

        I know who he is, I just haven’t heard much mention of him once training camp and pre-season fired up. Don’t recall ever hearing his name mentioned for making plays during the 2 games so far. Was just curious if anyone had info on how he’s looked.

  20. Pauld says:

    One thing Seahawks fans are reluctant to admit — due in large part because so much time is left on their existing contracts — is that Chancellor and Bennett are wildly underpaid. They have elevated their game since they signed extensions and are rightly considered a two of the best defenders on the planet. If I were Schneider, I would offer to turn their 2015-16 salaries into signing bonuses, lower salaries and use the extra cap space to sign Mathis.

    The solves two enormous problems. First, your weakest starter becomes a strength. Your five best players will then not include Lem or Novak. Whether it’s Mathis, Britt or Gilliam playing center, Bailey and Lem become your experienced backups giving the more athletic interns – Novak and Monica Glowinski – time to learn their trade. Has anyone noticed we can’t score a damn touchdown in preseason? Put a sparqy, veteran all-pro on that Oline and give our offense a chance to take advantage of all that talent.

    Second, you don’t have Bennett and Chancellor playing for massively under-market contracts for the next couple of years. No one says “if you put these guys in a different system without all the other all pros around them, they wouldn’t be elite”. No. They are among the very best at their positions. You don’t tell your superstar: “tough luck, you shouldn’t have signed that deal”. They extended Marshawn for a very good reason. Even if you to give them both a big raise to $9 or 10M, they would still be significantly underpaid. But because of expections and circumstances, they would be happy. And it would be fair. They were instrumental in getting you to two SBs and they may get you two more. One is serious and the other hilarious but they seem to be the glue of team. From the outside, more so than Earl, Sherm, RW or Wags.

    • Trevor says:

      So when Sherm and Earl are All Pro again this year do we convert their salaries to bonuses the following year? Sounds like a great way to make sure we have non stop cap issues going forward to me.

    • Ed says:

      You can’t redo deals one or two years in. That sets a bad precedent. Lynch had one year left, different story. If they didn’t play up to stuff and they were cut, the Hawks would still get stuck with the guarantee. Maybe players and teams should look for shorter deals so they know neither would be stuck with a bad deal. But it’s football and teams and players want money set.

      I don’t want Mathis, I would rather we let Britt (LG) and Gilliam (RT) play. I really think Gilliam can be our LT next year and we save with Okung and maybe even Sweezy and then do something for Bennett and Cam as far as guaranteed money.

    • Coug1990 says:

      Kam is not underpaid. Neither is Bennett. So, there is that. Maybe you think the Seahawks should just trot out 40 players for the next several years?

    • arias says:

      You seem to be making a lot of assumptions about what they’d be happy with. Reports have indicated that Chancellor wants new money, not reworked deals that will increase his guarantees while paying him less overall.

  21. Roland jose says:

    The battle is won in the trenches, period.

  22. If they sign Mathis, he s your left guard. It d basically be an admission that Britt was a busted pick and I m not sure Seattle will go down that road just yet even if Mathis provides more of a sure thing.