Seattle’s #1 need is defensive tackle

November 26th, 2012 | Written by Rob Staton

The Seahawks could use a Star

There’s still a lot of football to be played, but yesterday’s 24-21 defeat to Miami made something pretty clear – this team must upgrade at defensive tackle. #1 need, straight up.

I previously wondered if the bigger need was a more athletic WILL that can cover. That comes a close second, particularly after all the busted coverages involving Leroy Hill against the Dolphins. Adding another receiver also looked like a realistic option, but nobody can say that position has been an issue in recent weeks. The clear #1 need is at defensive tackle. Here’s why…

Seattle’s base defense uses a front four consisting of Chris Clemons, Alan Branch, Brandon Mebane and Red Bryant. Of that quartet, only Clemons offers any pass rushing threat. With the Seahawks opting to use a four man rush more often than not, they’re relying on Clemons too much to create pressure. This has been the case ever since Pete Carroll arrived in Seattle in 2010. It’s a pretty unique situation where your starting defensive end (Bryant) and your starting three technique (Branch) have almost no pass rushing responsibilities. I see it as the Seahawks trying to create a lot of 2nd/3rd and long situations so that the specialists (Bruce Irvin, Jason Jones) can have an impact. Play stout against the run early with three +300lbs lineman, rely on the second level guys not to give up the 7-8 yard pass and force the offense into an obvious throwing situation. I suspect this was of doing things is to try and create turnovers – a key mantra in Carroll’s philosophy. Put a team in 3rd and ten, use speed rushers, put an extra defensive back on the field. You can understand the thinking here even if you don’t agree with it.

Here’s the problem though – too many times this season, particularly on the road, the run defense has been poor on those key early downs. Miami had +6YPA on Saturday. If the base defense isn’t getting the job done, it’s harder to maximise the qualities of Irvin, Jones and anyone else you want to use in nickel or bandit formations. For this system to work, you need to be effective in base.

It’d also be nice to have a starter to take some of the pass rushing responsibility away from Clemons. After all, what better way to make the most of Irvin/Jones than to put a team in 2nd/3rd and 17 because of a sack on first down?

Finding an interior upgrade that maintains the size up front while also offering a superior pass rush option is key and will help this defense take the next step.

There are solutions in the draft and it’s a rich year for defensive tackles. Star Lotulelei has the size and freakish athletic talent to become one of the best defensive tackles in the NFL. He’s extremely streaky and dips in and out of games, but his upside is off the charts. He’s mostly a terrific run blocker, which would be key for the Seahawks. When he sets his feet and gets leverage, he’s proven almost impossible to move. He has tremendous upper body power and the size to plug holes. Unfortunately, he’s not a great pass rusher. Yet.

At the moment he’s too one dimensional, relying exclusively on the bull rush. Guards and center’s are able to adjust and predict what he’s going to do, and there have been times where he’s started a game on fire and then disappeared in the second half(see: USC vs Utah below). Once an offensive lineman sees the same move time and time again, they suss him out. He also plays too high at times and it’s led to some pretty ugly looking blocks over the last two years. Even so, you’d like to think he’d improve with pro-coaching although it might take a year or two to max out the extreme physical potential on offer here.

It’s presumed that Lotulelei will be a high pick, but if he leaves the board early there are alternatives. Sheldon Richardson doesn’t have the ideal size for Seattle’s scheme (approximately 290lbs) but he might be the best pure three technique. He’s a high motor, big effort player who doesn’t give up on plays and constantly finds ways to get into the backfield. He’s sparky and his personality can rub coaches up the wrong way – he was suspended recently for a key game for breaking team rules. It’s the kind of thing that could lead to a fall, and if he does drop he could be an option for Seattle. The main concern here would be the considerable size difference between Richardson and Alan Branch. You’re talking about 40lbs. The Seahawks aren’t going to completely abandon their defensive scheme and they will want to remain big and stout on early downs. If Richardson can’t maintain that, he becomes nothing more than another Jason Jones. For those reasons, I’m not totally convinced Richardson would be on the radar. They’d have to feel very good about his frame holding up against the run.

Another player who compares favourably in size to Lotulelei is North Carolina’s Sylvester Williams. Again, you’re talking about a top-tier run defender in college. Williams has dominated at times this year, despite playing for the most part with a heavily-strapped ankle. He controls blockers, has the size to fill running lanes (320lbs) and chases after running backs when he gets into the backfield. He doesn’t quite have the physical upside of Lotulelei, but he might be better prepared to have a quicker impact. One area where he’s vastly superior to Lotulelei is pass rushing. Williams has a patented swim move which consistently brings results, he can bull rush, he’s got a great burst off the snap and like Richardson – he lives in the backfield.

Teams will look into his background, as he’s had quite the journey to get to UNC. At high school he struggled for motivation, skipped lessons and at one point his father had to arrange for a police escort to take him to the school gates just to make sure he actually turned up. He eventually took a job working in a car-parts factory, earning $12 an hour. That appears to be the catalyst for some kind of career-epiphany, but he eventually walked on at Coffeyville in the JUCO ranks before enrolling at North Carolina. All of this means he’ll turn 25 as a rookie – just as Bruce Irvin did this year. What I’d want to know is – will the old Sylvester Williams turn up when the cheques get cashed? Is he truly a reformed man, ready to continue his new-found worth ethic having made it to the pro’s? Or will it be seen as job done and the end of the journey? Some teams probably won’t entertain the risk. A 22-year-old rookie Williams without any of these issues is a top-fifteen pick based on the tape. With this lingering in the background, he might last into the 20’s.

What about the others? Ohio State’s Johnathan Hankins doesn’t play with enough fire in his belly to compete for this team, while Kawann Short might be available in round two and likewise plays very much within himself. The one other player I’d possibly consider as a round one option is Jesse Williams at Alabama. He’s not a natural three technique and has played 3-4 DE and nose tackle for the Crimson Tide. Williams is strong at the point and offensive lineman struggle to move him versus the  run. If the Seahawks were just trying to solve a run defense issue here, I’d suggest Williams would be a great option. However, I think they need to find someone who can also provide a pass rush on early downs. Can Williams do it? I wouldn’t rule it out. He’s disruptive, but predictable as a rusher – exclusively relying on brute force. He lacks an explosive first step and he could be better with hand placement and execution. His improvement level from last season to this is cause for optimism though and he’s got the athletic potential to be a better pass rusher.

Of course, not every need will be filled in round one of the draft. After all, the teams greatest need was addressed last off-season by a third round pick. There’s nothing to stop Seattle’s front office working their magic again and finding a solution outside of round one. However, every off-season Pete Carroll and John Schneider have identified need areas and been quite focused with their early picks. Finding an upgrade at defensive tackle and a player who can feature on early downs will surely be on the target list as a key area for improvement. The Seahawks don’t have a ton of glaring needs, but filling the few that remain with talented players will ultimately be the difference between eternal 7-9 win seasons and maximising the potential this team has to reach 10+ victories.

Even so, it doesn’t mean this need will be addressed in round one. We sat here discussing quarterbacks for four years before a third round pick answered the call. In a deep draft for defensive tackles, the solution may not be obvious to fans or humble bloggers just yet. And nobody should be surprised if they go for that first round linebacker, wide receiver, tight end or offensive lineman instead. I could just as easily make a case for the team going after Zach Ertz or Alec Ogletree. After all – all three of Lotulelei, Richardson and Williams could be off the board before Seattle picks. But this is an area that has to be dealt with one way or another for sustained improvement to continue.

Need rankings after week 12:

#1 Defensive tackle
#2 WILL linebacker
#3 Another weapon for Russell Wilson at WR or TE

Star Lotulelei (DT, Utah) tape vs USC:

88 Responses to “Seattle’s #1 need is defensive tackle”

  1. Colin says:

    Russell Wilson had the hightest QBR in the league yesterday and yet they REFUSE to let him sling around at all. Frustrating.

    • pqlqi says:

      he was the highest rated by QBR BECAUSE the team is selective in when and what types of throws they ask him to make, meaning he is efficient because they REFUSE to let him sling it around.

      On top of that, he was an uncalled OPI on Tate away from an interception instead of a TD pass on the following 1st and goal situation, which would have significantly dropped his QBR.

      • MJ says:

        Captian positive…so, are you going to hold the philosophy of the offense he was drafted into against him? Are you going to say the same about Marshawn only being good because he gets all the carries? Where does this logic stop? Furthermore, what are you going to say if RW breaks Manning’s TD record? Is that not more impressive with the limited chances to throw the ball?

        I’m sorry, but I truly despise these types of posts. The guy is doing historical things for a 3rd round pick and nobody in their right mind shouldn’t believe in this guy going forward. Nobody is saying to put on the blinders, but after the game yesterday, I am more confident in RW going forward and yes, he has to continue to prove it and grow. Growth, which he has shown every week.

        Yes, Tate made an excellent play, but as he has proven, Tate is more than capable of making those plays. I for one, am happy we have a QB who has the balls to make these types of throws. Good QBs give their playmakers a chance to make plays. It’s pretty simple, actually. Calculated risks are a necessary thing in life if you want to do anything noteworthy.

        I don’t know why I am engaging in this discussion, as it’s clear you will use selective evidence/plays to state your case. EVERY QB in the league is handcuffed to the offense they play in. How can you fault somebody for that (at any position for that matter)? Apologies for the subtle attack here, but I am really getting fed up with this type of attitude. I’m sure I will read something about the team being 9-2 with Flynn and how he can “read defenses.” Funny how nobody in the league wanted him, when he was uber cheap to get.

        • John says:

          Haha I read about Flynn taking this team to 8-2 on the tribune and how Wilson lost us the game because of that screen at the end.

          I don’t really think pqlqi is bashing Wilson and he does raise a point about him being efficient. But in this instance, I disagree. Wilson was hot. He wasn’t just making first reads and taking check downs. I saw him go to his second or third reads, he was pump faking, dodging pressure and I just saw a stat that said non Wilson plays (i.e. runs not by Wilson) accounted for 11 yds on our 2 scoring drives. That’s mind boggling. Wilson was on fire, and we should’ve opened it up in the Miami game and should feel a little bit more confident in him moving forward.

          • MJ says:

            Agreed…was probably too harsh, I just get really bothered when people completely fail to understand/portray the limits of the offense they are in or define a QB by yardage.

            I mean honestly, the ideal QB for this offense NEEDS to be efficient and RW has been. In fact, he has been outstanding lately. I just really don’t like how so many people try to discount RW’s play with “well he doesn’t carry the team.” He’s not asked to. Additionally, I actually think he’d be performing great if asked to do more.

            The kid doesn’t repeat mistakes and has improved every week at an astounding rate. If people want to complain about RW’s play, they should be crapping on PC and Bevell first. It’s not like RW can change the offensive philosophy himself.

          • Rob Staton says:

            Wilson was superb on Sunday and it’s true that it’s criminal they didn’t put the game in his hands at the end. Hindsight is a wonderful thing, but it was crying out for a little more ambition at the end. Even on the attempted screen to Marshawn, it was so pre-meditated. You knew it was coming – the play had worked so far, it was safe. They ran that one too many times. Take a shot, you might get a completion, you might get PI. And we were so concerned about not giving Miami any time for a response, we actually screwed ourselves in the end. Gave them enough time to get a FG and not enough time for Seattle to respond. Very disappointing. But ultimately you have to say – this time last year we’d have all given so much to be sitting here saying they should’ve let the QB throw because he is the big positive. Wilson is legit.

            • Michael says:

              That loss was the most painful one of the entire season. Not only because it was to an inferior Miami team, but because it took on the exact same form as the Detroit loss. You watched it unfold, and could just tell what was going to happen.

              When you hear the words, “clock management” you typically think of the use of team timeouts, the 2 minute warning, and the OFFENSIVE play calling that maximizes the teams chances of scoring. Though it doesn’t fit the typical definition, this coaching staff has a clock management problem.

              Just like the Detroit game, the Seahawks gave the ball to their opponent with just enough time to allow them to march down the field, and not enough time to respond on offense afterwards. Again just like the Detroit game, they got way too conservative with the defensive play calling on the final drive, and sat back in their stupid little zone while a below average ROOKIE QB walked down the field and into FG range. Get aggressive and attack the rookie! Maybe you get a big sack and put them into a very bad down and distance, maybe you force a turnover. Maybe they fail and get beat over the top for a TD… now you’re down by 7. But guess what? Now they have to give you the ball again!!!

              If the “master plan” calls for close games (it certainly seems to) then this coaching staff needs to find a way to manage the clock, and make sure they are the last ones to touch the ball.

              • Meat says:

                My thoughts exactly. Just like the Detroit game, I watched the final minute or two unfold knowing the outcome before it happened. Wilson was on fire and was keeping Seattle in the game, yet Bevell and Pete decided to keep giving the ball to Lynch at the end despite being sniffed out on every run design play. I think how unique the playcalling is in SanFran and imagine Wilson running those plays and feel he would ball.

                I don’t think we see a coaching staff change, but some changes are needed after watching the offense especially this year. Bevell should be first to go…period.

  2. AlaskaHawk says:

    I’m okay with a Defensive tackle or linebacker or anyone else that is a three down player. Please – No more specialists in the first round!!!

    We could also use a few more offensive linemen in the mid to late rounds. Our guys are just not blocking well enough on runs to spring Lynch free. Most of his success this year has been from his ability to make yards after tackles. Also of concern is that our best guys (Okung and Carenter) are injury prone, and our other guys are penalty prone. Of course this may improve next year = or we may be continually looking for replacements while they recover.

  3. John_S says:

    Rob, what are your thoughts on Jonathan Jenkins from Georgia? Every time I’ve watched Georgia this year he’s clogged the middle.

    CJ Moseley from Alabama is an OLB that I would love in the 2nd round. He’s pretty good in pass coverage while also playing the run.

    • MJ says:

      IMO, Jenkins is a very nice player, but not exactly what we need. We need a paramount focus on pass rush from the 3 technique, especially if we continue to play Red Bryant (pains me to say it).

      Mosley, IMO, is totally worth a late 1st round pick. Quite honestly, if he is drafted, I don’t have any doubt he is the best LBer on the roster on Day 1. He’s disciplined, well schooled, physical, very instinctive, and amazing in pass coverage. This isn’t a shot at Wagner, who has tremendous upside, but he’s been a huge liability in the run game. For every splash play he makes, he blows several gap assignments. KJ Wright, is slowly proving why he was a 4th rounder. I really like KJ, but he is a liability in coverage. His specialty is setting the edge. This is why I think Mosley would be thee “guy” on day 1.

      I wouldn’t “love” the Mosley pick, but it would be hard to argue with his value at the end of R1. All that said, I think Ogletree is the “bees knees” and could become a game changer in his rookie season. Rare athleticism and extremely physical/aggressive player. That’s like finding a leprechaun riding a unicorn.

      • Snoop Dogg says:

        I agree with John_S. I would love to get John Jenkins.

        For everyone who says that he will not be a beast I would ask them to look at Paul Siolai. He weighs 260 lbs+. He is very similar measurable wise to John Jenkins. He was also the Miami defensive lineman who killed our run game almost singlehandedly.

        • Snoop Dogg says:

          Also, Cut Red Bryant. He is earning too much money to suck at run defense and pass defense. Does anyone think he has been doing well enough or that his “leadership” is worth it?

          He is a contract player who outside of his contract year (and those before the fat contract) is no longer playing well.

          • Michael says:

            it is looking more and more like the easiest D-line position to upgrade is the one currently occupied by Big Red…

            I don’t know if it is possible to be less than a “zero factor” in the pass rush department, but if anyone can pull it off it would be Red Bryant. It is truly painful to watch, and as much as I like the guy, he has not been the same player at stopping the run this year. If Red is not consistently blowing up run plays in the back field, he is just not worthy of a starting spot because of his extreme uselessness as a pass rusher.

            • Meat says:

              He also has not had any huge plays like blocked field goals, or getting his hands up and tipping/blocking passes like last year. Wouldn’t Red’s play improve with better packages, blitzes?

    • Rob Staton says:

      Incredible potential, likeable character. I like Jenkins a lot. However, he’s a pure nose tackle who plays first and second downs. He won’t offer any pass rush and really in Seattle’s scheme should be playing the one tech. I think they need to upgrade the three tech as a priority.

  4. pqlqi says:

    Taking the games in as a whole this season, I think Trufant is the weakest link in the defense, but I think his replacement is on the roster (Lane or WTIII).

    WIL is another weakness, but it seems like Smith and Morgan have justified their roster spots, and Toomer is still on the PS – I have a suspicion that Toomer could be a phenomenal WIL. He weighs 15 lbs more than Wagner and have very similar speed and quickness measurables.

    A week before the draft, I decided I wanted Cox over a DE, to develop behind and rotate with Jason Jones. I think there is a good chance he would’ve been their selection instead of Irvin if he had still been available. I don’t expect JS to be forthcoming about who they would’ve drafted, as I think Kuechly and Barron were never in play, and neither Schneider or Pete ever said anything more than those were two defensive players who were drafted ahead of Irvin. One interesting note about Irvin yesterday is that he was rotating a little bit with Clemons as the Leo, I noted him on the field a couple times when Clemons was resting – seems like his snap count might have been higher yesterday than in recent weeks.

    I think another problem we have seen in the second half of the season is that Mebane seems to have tired legs, I would love it if the team took a chance on an athletic freak NT like Dontari Poe, to play in a rotation with Mebane and be his eventual replacement.

    • John says:

      We traded our pick to Philly who everyone knew loved Cox. I don’t think we wanted him.

    • Rob Staton says:

      Seattle passed on Fletcher Cox in favour of a minor trade down. They were always zoned in on defensive ends and more specifically – Bruce Irvin.

      • A. Simmons says:

        I still like the Irvin pick. I think he’s going to be ridiculous once he has a few years to develop his moves and add some bulk with team trainers and proper nutrition. You know that guy wasn’t eating right in college and was relying on raw ability. I still like the Irvin pick.

  5. MJ says:

    Definitely agree about D-Tackle Rob. It’s becoming a serious issue for this team. Now, they can’t even stop the run, which is why they exist in the first place.

    With that said, we really need a game changer in Round 1, and frankly I don’t care if it is seen as a “gamble.” Whether that’s Ogletree, Tavon Austin, Ziggy Ansah, Cordarelle Patterson, we simply need guys that can change a game in one play. Doesn’t matter if it’s a homerun hitter or a freak of nature defensive player. We are simply lacking difference makers in the Front 7 of the defense and on the offense.

  6. Cameron says:

    Rob, just curious, why not a traditional 4-3 DE instead of an interior lineman? Seems to me the easiest way to improve our pass rush would be to get a lineman opposite Clemans that can actually rush the passer. Thoughts?

    • Rob Staton says:

      Because the Seahawks aren’t running an orthodox 4-3. I think it’s unrealistic to expect they’d abandon their scheme and go more orthodox, especially after re-signing Red Bryant to a big new contract. As mentioned in the piece, they want to stuff you on early downs and force 2nd/3rd long situations. Then you let the dogs loose… speed with Irvin, Clemons and Jones. It’s a great way of creating turnovers because you make the offense desperate, you can rely on speed up front and play extra coverage. It’s a solid plan. And the only realistic way to keep the plan and improve the pass rush on base defense is to upgrade the starting three technique.

      • Nate Dogg says:

        They wouldn’t have to abandon their scheme if they switched to a DE in place of Red. Having a Red type player has never been a staple of Pete’s defenses, and it’s not like the alternative would have to be going to a polar opposite player like Irvin. Even a run stuffing, 4-6 sack a year, traditional 4-3 end would be a huge improvement in pass rushing over Red.

        • Rob Staton says:

          They just made Bryant the highest paid defensive player on the roster, so they aren’t going to replace him any time soon. As I’ve said in the other reply to you, the interior pressure isn’t good enough and neither was the run stuffing on Sunday – and it wasn’t a one off. Something has to give there. Putting a lighter player than Red at DE won’t improve the performance against the run. When Reggie Bush is gashing you up the middle with that Miami offense line, something’s wrong.

          • Nate Dogg says:

            “They just made Bryant the highest paid defensive player on the roster, so they aren’t going to replace him any time soon.”

            I haven’t seen anything from Pete that makes me think this will matter, although we haven’t seen it come up with one of his guys yet so maybe you’re right.

            Replacing Red won’t improve the run defense but it will probably improve your pass rush more than switching up the DTs, especially if you’re looking for a new DT that will improve the run defense.

            • Rob Staton says:

              Interior pass rush is vastly under rated. You need it. Arizona won a game against us because of it.

              • Nate Dogg says:

                Darnell Dockett is a special player, if Seattle has an opportunity to get that quality of player at any position I hope they jump at it. That seems pretty unlikely though, and Carroll has made his priorities along the defensive line very clear. If they wanted to have better interior rush they could easily have it, but Jones continues to be used as specialist.

                • Rob Staton says:

                  You’re missing the point a little bit here. It’s not a case of ‘well just put Jones in there and they’ll be better rushing the passer’. The point is, they have three bigs who offer no pass rush on a four man line and never blitz on early downs. So you’re saying to those guys… you better be excellent vs the run because if they throw, we’ve got one guy who’s going to try and make a play. The idea is to put teams into 2nd/3rd and long so they can use the specialists. That way they are maxing out the speed rush element, they can play more coverage and try to force the turnovers. This isn’t an argument to say they should just go and find a better pass rusher to play the three technique. It’s about finding someone who can do that on base downs to help Clemons out if a team does pass on first down, while also improving the run defense and maintaining the size we have up front.

                  • Nate Dogg says:

                    That seems like a very tall order. The player you’re describing is probably one of the best defensive tackles in the league, don’t you think?

                  • Rob Staton says:

                    No, he’s just big and a better pass rusher than Alan Branch.

                  • Barry says:

                    Something that has occurred to me is that Big red runs hot and cold. Before watching him the year he was finally healthy and looked dominant at times I thought he just finally got his break to play and was healthy. I wonder now if he’s not lazy and soft. The year before signing that big deal he showed the ability to move and dominate any tackle he was over. Either vs the run or taking the guy and putting him in the backfield vs the pass.

                    Without any big time injuries Red miss a lot of time the first few years of his career. Along with inconsistent play with might be him getting warn down this early makes me worry he wont be able to live up to that contract.

      • AlaskaHawk says:

        When you put it like that it explains why the other teams pass on first and second down.

  7. Snoop Dogg says:

    I would love for an actual run-stuffing defensive tackle.

    Rob, What do you think about Daniel McCullers next year?

    • Rob Staton says:

      I was more impressed with Darrington Sentimore when I watched Tennessee to be honest.

    • Caleb says:

      Excuse me, but really?

      I know that people are panicking and that the world is seemingly over but really? Brandon Mebane is THE definition of a run stuffing DT. Alan branch is a mountain of man flesh. Period. If the Seahawks wish to find a DT that can pass rush effectively too, then we have a situation where personnel does not meet objectives. However, I think we are all forgetting that this defensive unit has been effective, even potent, up until the San Fran game in terms of stopping the run. And the games where the team were gashed were against frank gore, Adrian Peterson and an extremely underrated Reggie Bush(my opinion). So it therefore is not so much an issue of panicking than figuring out what the team DID do right, how we can continue to do so, yet how to switch things up enough to keep teams in the future from replicating past successes. I agree however that pass rush needs to be considered if/when looking at DT.

  8. Andy says:

    Rob, what do you think of a player like Will Sutton of ASU for the Seahawks?

    • Rob Staton says:

      He’s had a huge year, double digit sacks. I think he looks like a solid mid rounder type option. Not actually a brilliant pass rusher by any stretch, despite the production. But he’s got a good sizeable frame and decent hand use.

  9. Nate Dogg says:

    I’m not sure I buy into the case you’ve made for DT being the number one need. Branch and Mebane are top notch run stuffers, and if they’re having issues stopping the run when playing Red at DE I think you have to start with questioning the scheme before talent. Every year that Pete has been here the defense has started off as one of the best against the run and ended looking like one of the worst. I’m not sure what the issue is, scheme, rotation, or what have you, but this seems to be a trend.

    If, on the other hand, you’re looking to help Clemons with the pass rush I think you’re going to have bigger gains by inserting an actual defensive end in place of Red than you are by replacing Branch/Jones/Mebane with a rookie. Branch and Mebane aren’t traditional 3 tech studs, but they are probably above average pass rushers from the defensive tackle spot in that they force the offensive line to at least account for them. They’re not finishers, but they can routinely collapse the pocket. If Seattle didn’t have a pass rushing black hole on one side of them I doubt we’d be concerned about them. Jones is obviously a premier pass rusher from the DT spot, and maybe they need to look at him as a base package guy. It’s very unlikely they could improve on what he gives them in the back half of the first round.

    Mix in guys like McDonald, Howard, and Scruggs and this team has pass rushing depth at the DT spot. What they don’t seem to have is run stuffer depth, and maybe that’s part of the late season collapses the run defense keeps having. That’s hardly a #1 need type role though, and can be filled in the mid to late rounds or through cheap free agent acquisitions.

    • Rob Staton says:

      Is there a danger though that we assume Branch and Mebane are as good as advertised? I mean, I’ve just watched a Miami run game gash us straight up the middle for 4-5 yards consistently. They bounced numerous plays out wide too, but there was a lot of ‘up the middle’ running from Bush and Thomas. And it’s not the first time we’ve seen this. For me, Soliai is a legit run stuffer and we saw how effective he is. He’s been doing that all year. Seattle doesn’t have that. And if they aren’t doing that part of the job to a high level, and they’re not bringing a pass rush, then it’s an area for upgrade. And Bryant has to take some responsibility too, but not many teams run at him and the scheme is designed to plug the edge and stretch plays out for the linebackers on that side.

      For a long while now this team has lacked a legit interior pass rush and it’s time to go in search of one.

      • Nate Dogg says:

        Rewatching the second half, I’m not seeing them get gashed with runs up the middle. Miami ran a lot of stretch plays, attacking the edge (including Bryant), and then popping outside runs when Seattle blew containment. Branch and Mebane weren’t making plays, but they weren’t playing poorly either.

        • Rob Staton says:

          On initial viewing in the game I noticed a lot of solid gains on runs up the middle. We’re not talking big, 20-yard runs here. We’re talking 4-5 yards on early downs which is what the Seahawks defense is set up to avoid. They ran very well up the gut and it opened up their playbook. Seattle ran poorly up the gut and were dominated.

          • Nate Dogg says:

            What I saw was a lot of stretch plays attacking the B gap. It’s tough on those type of plays for DTs to get up field and make plays because it opens up big cutback lanes. I think where you can really criticize the DTs is that they weren’t demanding enough attention to keep the interior linemen from getting out on the linebackers. They weren’t getting blown off the line though, and they played pretty assignment correct.

            Speaking of Seattle getting dominated on the offensive line as well, what do you think of their current group there? Unger is looking like the only solid starter, but his size and strength issues really showed up against Miami. With it being such an integral part of what they want to do on offense I’m wondering if they don’t look to upgrade there (especially over McQuistan).

            • Rob Staton says:

              The Seahawks already drafted a right guard early in John Moffitt. He will most likely be recalled before they go that route again. The line isn’t perfect but then few are. They’ve spent enough draft stock improving that line and it’s time to let it grow and concentrate on other areas.

              • Colin says:

                Bless you Rob. Someone on this site gets it. The line will be okay as long as it isn’t totally ignored for 10 years.

                • Barry says:

                  I agree with your assessment Nate Dog.

                  Yes Seattle has invested in high round draft picks in O-lineman, but how many of those did people say smart picks. The picks Pete and John have nailed are amazing and its understandable to miss on some. but when you miss on them you just dont say “well we have spent high picks and even though they are not working we are not going to draft a stud lineman if he falls to us as a BPA. With a stud like Lynch we should have converted a lot more short yardage situations then we did. We have missed on some O-lineman and thats obvious. You always want give a line time to develop but not converting shorts inst a chemistry issue.

                  Rob, you said few lines are perfect and that is correct. But thoes lines played into the teams offensive schemes. Of the last few teams to win a SB the Saints and the Giants had great lines with a few dominate players on those lines.

                  Our scheme is supposed to be the power run. How did that power run do yesterday?

                  I’m not saying continue to reach for guards or tackles, but if a great player falls to you dont pass on him even though we have invested in previous O-lineman.

                  • Rob Staton says:

                    The Saints line I can accept, but the Giants line was full of middle of the road guys who work as a unit. And if you ask those Giants lineman, the thing they’ll put their success down to last year was time together. Not first round picks, familiarity. That is the single most important thing for a group of lineman. You cannot keep changing every year and expecting things to click. The Seahawks offensive line isn’t an issue right now. Okung, Carpenter and Unger have nailed three of the spots for the immediate. We have a few options at guard (Moffitt, McQuistan, Sweezy) and Giacomini is the right tackle. I’m not saying pass on a great lineman, but right now Seattle has the #21 pick and that great lineman isn’t likely to be there – the top-15 picks are filled with teams needing lineman. But even then, eventually you have to concentrate on other areas of the team. And that’s the position Seattle finds itself in now.

                  • Alex says:

                    I agree with Rob here. You don’t need a perfect line. Few, if any exist in the history of the NFL. The Redskins of the 80s and the Mammouth OL of the Cowboys in the early 90s are about as close to perfect as you’ll get. The 49ers of the 80s, 90s and then the late 90s Broncos were the perfect examples of the smaller, quicker, smarter OL. After that, there hasn’t been any “perfect” lines.

                    Nowadays, you really only need one dominant side. If it’s the left side, it can be used for both pass blocking and run blocking (like the Seahawks in the mid 2000s). The Houston Texans now use the same formula. Have Chris Meyers at center (best ZBS center), have Wade Smith at LG, and the best LT in Duane Brown. Schaub can mostly ignore his blind side while Foster almost always runs to his left. If you look at their right side, it’s actually pretty weak after losing players to the cap, but it’s hardly relevant since it’s never really used. Foster doesn’t run too much to that side and Schaub can see the incoming pass rusher.

                    I personally think we already have that one side in Okung (1st Rd pick), Carpenter (1st Rd pick), and Unger (2nd Rd pick).

                  • AlaskaHawk says:

                    I have to disagree that our offensive line is good enough. They aren’t able to run block, the other side gets penetration and throws Marshawn for a loss at least 2-4 times a game. Most of the running is from Marshawns efforts, not from the line. Since that is supposed to be our identity, it is a real flaw. Pass blocking leaves a lot to be desired. And the stupid penalties are irritating and yards we will never get back.

                    I would endorse the left side if they weren’t injured every season. But they are. I’m not sure if they will ever heal up enough to get a season out of them. The right side, is okay but not great.

                    I don’t think we need first round picks here, there are probably some overlooked gems in the 3-5 rounds that will make good linemen.

                    Also I don’t know why Rob keeps saying we already spent some first round picks on them. If I said we paid Flynn 10 million so we should play him – you would shout me down and rightly so. Wilson looks like the future – a third rounder. Same with the line, it doesn’t matter what we have already paid or draft picks. We need improvement. We need more draft picks. Not at first or second round, just more picks to train and grow into a spot. If our line improves and we don’t need them – great.

                    But it is pretty obvious this offensive line isn’t working and given time it won’t improve enough to block out the talented defenses that we face.

                  • Rob Staton says:

                    Why is it obvious the line isn’t working? You say they can’t run block, yet Lynch is one of the leading rushers in the league. Russell Wilson isn’t exactly getting constant pressure every snap – the pass pro has generally been more than acceptable. It just seems like an easy scapegoat when a team loses – it’s the line. Like there’s a team out there that has flawless run/pass blocking every week. The line is fine. And the reason I keep saying we already spent picks is because eventually you have to trust the front office and let their guys play and grow together. You cannot keep changing the offensive line every season. It’s the one unit in the game that requires familiarity and time on the field. They work as one. And eventually you just have to back the guys you’ve signed and get on with it. None of Seattle’s losses this year have been on the o-line.

  10. Connor Jackson says:

    I agree with one of the earlier posts about CJ Mosley. That’s the guy that right now I’m targeting w/ the Seahawks. Anyways, I was curious to hear how you would assess Big Red up this point? He clearly isn’t showing up all over the field like he did last year. Is that because they aren’t running at him, or because he got paid and had a baby… I guess I just want to know if he is something we need to worry about understanding that we just paid him big bucks.
    Also, why are our LB’s so poor in pass coverage. They look so lost and offenses just pick us apart when they start to commit to the passing game (Patriots, Lions, Dolphins, 49ers- second half all come to mind) is this because of talent and ability, experience, or scheme in your opinion?
    For me the reason I’m so discouraged after yesterday’s game besides the simple fact that were so superior to that team is that it seemed to expose so many holes and needs we need moving forward. I don’t know I may be wrong.
    Final thought regarding your post- Are there any solid DT’s in free agency this offseason that you could see the Hawks picking up?

  11. kenny says:

    so lets say we go sylvester williams in the first. what do you think about an aaron mellette in the second or third. grab a WIL in the third or second. in the fourth going after gavin escobar. fifth we go after another WR to round out our WR corp. 6th go o-line and 7th maybe a guy like TJ barnes out of Georgia Tech. love his size and he may be a good developmental replacement for Mebane due to his sheer size. I think he could be taught some pass rush and he is already a decent run stuffer. but having a 6’7 guy in the middle of the line to knock down passes is something i would love for this team. especially given that our LB’s struggle in coverage and in the middle is our biggest weakness. he would hide that if he was developed properly.

    • Connor Jackson says:

      To predict all of the positions and rounds is pretty impossible, but I will say I like Arthur Brown out of K-State in 2nd Rd. as a solid pick

      • kenny says:

        he is who i am leaning toward if we don’t go alec ogletree in the first. as far as my exact people, mellette looks like a third round pick based on his lack of notoriety and being from a small school, although i love his size and sheer production. gavin escobar is similar. he is a TE who has almost freakish athletic ability, but is rather an unknown being from a smaller school with a losing record and bad qb play. as for TJ Barnes, he is being billed as a UDFA at the moment with only 1 year of starting if i remember correctly. that year was not up to the standard that he was supposed to have, and has therefore fallen off the map. i do think seattle needs 2 receivers and a TE from this draft. one as a mr. consistency, and the other as a pure playmaker. if we wait until round 5 for that guy then i have no idea. I wouldn’t mind seeing us go after someone like marquess wilson around that range. he has the talent but is lacking the mental toughness it seems. grabbing mellette and wilson would really round out our receiving corp and then it wouldn’t really matter who got hurt because we would have several very capable backups that should get a few snaps a game anyways.

        • Peyton says:

          About WRs, I expect Edwards will be upgraded. We’ll for sure keep Rice, Tate, Baldwin around. That leaves us with Martin, Kearse, and Obamanu as our 4th, 5th, and 6th WRs. I think we need a WR in at least the first four or so rounds as none of those guys are fit to be more than 5th recievers. Mellette is a possibility, maybe Cobi Hamilton or Aaron Dobson could be options.

  12. Stuart says:

    As much as it hurt to watch our defense give up 17 points in the 4th quarter, the glass is way more than half full. We have at long last our QBOTF in Russell Wilson! Personally I would rather have that postion solved long term more than other spot on the team. PC/JS will draft players that the media will question again this year, count on that. We may already have players on the roster who will step up next year and play a bigger role in our success.

    Rob, if we did not draft a WIL LB in R1-R3, is it possible for the Seahawks to draft someone like the Safety from Florida “Elam” in the R-2 and move Cam to play WIL? Also what do you think about the possiblilty of switching to a 3-4 defense next year?

    I just thought about the Cleveland Browns draft last year. What if they would have stayed at 4, not given up the picks to Minnesota to move up to 3, drafted Russell Wilson at 4 and then drafted RB Doug Martin with their 2nd R-1 pick. Same results QB and RB from last years 1st round. Hindsight is 20/20…

    • Rob Staton says:

      I think Elam’s a top-25 pick so I think it’s unlikely he’ll be there in round two. Also, the Seahawks are very set in their schematic ideology so I highly doubt they’ll switch to the 3-4. And as for the Browns… theoretically they could have an offense consisting of Wilson, Julio Jones and Trent Richardson with David De Castro also playing left guard alongside Joe Thomas. Instead they have just Richardson with Weeden and Greg Little. That’s not how to build an offense.

  13. Barry says:

    After yesterdays frustrating lost I needed a little break from the ‘Hawks. But when I turned into the blog today and saw this headline I couldn’t agree more. Branch wont be back next year. Maybe he’s just getting worn down because the D did spent a ton of time on the field earlier in the year but that was a embarrassing loss for our D.

    Something else that bothers me is how many 2nd or 3rd and shorts did we not convert? Lynch may have a lot of yards but he only has 5 rushing TDs. We have spent a lot of draft picks on O-lineman but have very little to show for as HIGH of draft picks they have been. You should expect the results we are getting by spending as many later round guys on the O-line. If we are going to be based on a run first O we have to be able to get a second or third and one or two whenever we need. Right now its evident we cant just “hammer it in” when we need to. For our team make up that is something that has to happen on 3rd and short at least 75% of the time on the road especially when a rookie Qb gives you as much production as Wilson did yesterday.

    I’m not giving up on the season by no means but this is a 5-6 team, that for all the talk about the D has only shut down or stopped one offense in ending drives in the 4th qrter when they had to and that was the Pats game. Since then we have been in position to win the Lions game and now the Miami one. Both were lost when we had held the opponents to very few points only to have team score multiple times in the 4th.

    It is great to see the continued growth of Wilson and the passing offense. The inconsistencies with then team are what is frustrating.

  14. Kenny Sloth says:

    I was saying DT all year. But now, I’m really hoping for Ogletree. Without the character concerns, he’s a Von Miller. He sticks out on tape more than Jarvis Jones. Any second round talent at DT?

  15. Darnell says:

    Man, I think a heavier Bjoern Werrner helps this team so much. If he can get into the 275-280 range he could be JJ Watt-lite. Werner could do everything this line asks of them all over the place.

    Rob, thoughts on Bennie Logan?

    • Rob Staton says:

      Not crazy about Logan. He’s 290lbs but doesn’t stand out as a pass rusher. At that size, I want to see more pressure – especially with the edge guys they have at LSU. He also doesn’t show well enough vs the run to fill Seattle’s need and fit the scheme.

    • Rob Staton says:

      Appears complicated. Either the NFL is going to say, “tough crap” and force the suspension now… or it’s going to drag out for a while and probably lead to a suspension anyway. I imagine he’d have to have proof that he ingested the tablet accidentally. And I can’t help but feel it probably doesn’t help that the other starting CB also failed a test.

      • CFR says:

        Both seem a bit like a stretch, but Sherman and his agent’s confidence from the get go make me feel like he has a better shot at overturning the appeal than Browner. Plus I find his story more believable than Browner’s urine conspiracy theory. At this point, all we can do is hope.

        Unrelated question, what are the chances that you can do an analysis of Russell Wilson at the end of the season (if you have some free time after the draft)? You did some great pieces on quarterbacks last year (when we were expecting to draft one potentially in the first round) and I would love to see a breakdown of all his games, along with expectations for what he can improve on in 2013!

  16. Ely says:

    I still can’t figure out why the playcalling on defense is so vanilla. I’m not an advocate of blitzing all the time but when a QB like Tannahill gashes you like he was, it would seem obvious to try and capitalize on his inexpeirience by confusing him with blitz packages. Seems the few blitzes they have tried absolutely blew plays up. SO say the Hawks are lucky enough to draft Ogletree, would they take advantage of his “untapped rushing ablitity”? Seems that Wagnor with his speed also has untapped rushing ability that he has already flashed at times. For whatever reason the defense just doesn’t seem to be flying around like they were last year.

  17. kevin mullen says:

    Sorry Rob, gonna have to disagree with you on this. Though I agree that a DT will be taken in the first 3 rounds (only due to Jones & Branch possibly leaving), stats show that an offensive weapon is much more needed than a DT in the first round.

    Per NFL Stats, the ‘Hawks are 31st in passing yds/g, 32nd in receiving yds/g, tied for 31st for 1st downs completed (with Carolina – not including this MNF game).

    This team needs a legit, move-the-chains type of offensive threat that’ll complement Tate/Rice/Miller/Baldwin/Lynch group. JS talks about tilting the field, well a Patterson or Ertz or Coleman addition can do that, and it’ll help sustain drives for this offense. Our offense needs to stay on the field longer, period.

    (by the by, this defense is still ranked in #12 for rush yds allowed/g, #3 total yds allowed/g, #3 in pass yds allowed/g, and #9 in sack per game)

    • Rob Staton says:

      We can’t judge this offense on those stats. This is a run heavy offense which is always going to put low receiving numbers. If you drafted a receiver first overall, in this offense he may only ever be a 2-3 catch, 60-70 yard player. Russell Wilson is playing lights out, but he’s still only putting up 200 yard passing games. That’s the offense, it’s always going to be that. Nobody should expect Seattle to draft a receiver and suddenly find the team in the top half for passing, receiving yards. And the first down stat – again, if you’re running 75% of the time on first down, you’re unlikely to convert with one play.

      • meat says:

        That is part of the issue. The offense is predictable, one week of great play calling and all of a sudden back to same play three times in a row. Not saying they need tto be pass heavy but change in the calls s needed. Less conservative at times

        • Rob Staton says:

          That won’t happen under Carroll. This is his way of doing things. He isn’t suddenly going to abandon that and have Wilson throwing the ball all the time to generate the kind of receiving numbers you’re hoping for. The Seahawks offense, in my opinion, has grown tremendously as the year went on. Some decisions have been frustrating, but that’s the same everywhere really.

  18. Stuart says:

    You would be hard pressed to find a single person that believes we will beat Chicago in Chicago. Since nobody will be surprised by a loss, PC and staff need to take all the reigns off the Offense and Defense.

    Defense: Blitz like we have never done before. Depending on the down etc., rush the CB’s or rush the Safeties or rush the LB’s. Keep it coming all game long. Rotate our players in constanty to keep everybody fresh. Change and modify substituton patterns. Keep Sherman on Brandon Marsall all game long. He is the only play I fear on Chicago. Shut him down and you will shut down the Bears passing game.

    Offense: At home we have played to win, on the road we have played not to loose. How’s that working out? Pass on first down like they do at home. Dont be so damn conservative!!! It’s so predictable it’s disgusting. This game use gadget plays and trick plays, do it. We know Rice and Tate have arms, who else? Use a few plays off of the short passes that become latterals? Take the gloves off.

    Everybody thinks we are going to loose anyway so why not?

    • Michael says:

      I will assume you mean “lose”. And I completely agree that the defense needs to have it’s “blitziest” game of the season. The bears line is so bad this should be like the first half of the packers game.

    • Barry says:

      If we can hit Cutler and keep the running game in check even if the passing game is working for the Bears, By the forth it will start to wear them down. Culter is not mentally tough and this is a game the Bears feel they should win. We stick around in it and frustrate him we could pull it out. .. But right now those are a lot of ifs.

  19. Stuart says:

    If by a miracle at our draft choice in the first round both WR Brandon Coleman and LB Alex Ogletree were availbable, which one would you pick? Both are potential superstars and could help transform our team to a new level.

    • Rob Staton says:

      Tough question. I’d probably go Coleman because I think he has elite potential to be a playmaker and it’d help RW to have a guy like that. But Ogletree would be a safer pick.

  20. A. Simmons says:

    You know I love this article. Alan Branch is gone. Jason Jones one year contract. Clinton McDonald a free agent. The only stable positions on the line are Clemons, Red, and Mebane. Knowing how Pete and John work, I don’t think this is a coincidence. They know their 3 tech position is weak. That’s why they didn’t extend Branch. And have been filling the position with castoffs and late rounders hoping to find gold. Next year is when I believe they try to solve the three tech position in earnest. Not sure it will be a first round pick, but I’m expecting a DT in the first three rounds. They have to solve the three tech situation to take the defense to the next level.

  21. Barry says:

    Something that I think the Hawks need to consider is every unit needs a lead on D. A player who wants to be great and that effects the others around that player. Right now we have a lot of great young players but having that “the Man” player is just as important on D as it in on O. we are sitting to take the BPA and I just hope that player is a high character guy with drive. I’m not close to the team so obviously this is just a observation but a few games where no one stepped up on D to make a play against teams that are struggling with the pass just cant be happening this late in the season. Now we will see what kind of characters we have on this young talented D.

  22. dave crockett says:

    Rob,

    one draft eligible DT I *definitely* want to see you do a spread on is University of Florida Man-Beast (jr.) Shariff Floyd. Holy Christmas! He might be just what the doctor ordered. He was a Rivals 5-star kid.

    I’m pretty sure Sheldon Richardson will make all-SEC and Floyd should be right there with him.

    http://www.nfldraftscout.com/ratings/dsprofile.php?pyid=107381&draftyear=2014&genpos=DT

  23. CFR says:

    Jason Babin released from Eagles. Where do you think he goes? I’ve heard analysts tout Cinci and Detroit as the two most likely options.

  24. Brandon says:

    Jason Jones and Alan Branch are now, for me, falling under the “Josh Wilson Rule”: If there is any debate over whether a player is good, he probably isn’t.

  25. […] We discussed last week how important it was for Seattle to find more pressure within this scheme. Carroll and Gus Bradley are only rushing four most of the time. They aren’t blitzing all that much. It seems to me that they want to max out the potential for turnovers by playing tight against the run on early downs and putting teams into 3rd and long situations. And when they’re in third and long, they turn to speed. Bruce Irvin and Jason Jones join Chris Clemons for the ‘money down’. You can play nickel, you can create a situation where the chances of a turnover are increased. Quick pressure, force the mistake and have enough people in coverage to capitalise. It makes a lot of sense. […]