Time to give the offensive line credit

December 24th, 2012 | Written by Rob Staton

Breno Giacomini is having a fantastic second half of the season

Seattle has one of the best offensive lines in the NFL.

Football Outsiders ranks it as the #1 run blocking unit in the league after week 16. They’re still ranked at #16 for pass protection based on adjusted sack rate, but only seven teams have given up less sacks in the entire NFL.

The 49ers have three first round picks playing on their offensive line (Joe Staley, Mike Iupati and Anthony Davis). They’re the #2 running unit in the NFL. They’re also ranked 31st for pass protection. The New York Giants are ranked #3 for both the pass and the run for the #1 overall line. They have no first round picks featuring on their line. We’ll come back to that.

Offensive lines are a bit of a bug bear in Seattle. A never ending need if you will, a constant craving for an unlikely goal of elite starters at every position. The 2005 Super Bowl offensive line was incredibly effective and set the standard for this franchise. It was still made up mostly of no-thrills blue-collar lineman with minimal cost. The big investment came on the left side, with two first round picks at tackle and guard.

It’s no surprise that some fans are desperate to get there again. However, it’s worth noting the similarities between the two units. Once again the Seahawks have first round picks starting at left tackle and guard. Russell Okung is playing at a league-leading level, just like Walter Jones did for many years. James Carpenter isn’t Steve Hutchinson, but he’s shown flashes of real potential when healthy. The big issue for Carpenter is going to be proving he can stay on the field for a full season, but the team has coped without him.

What this line has over the 2005 group is an elite center (Max Unger) and enough young quality at right guard and tackle to make this a solid, overall unit with good depth. They’re not relying on ageing veterans here. They are starting first and second year players and they’re getting the job done.

Breno Giacomini still can’t catch a break from some fans. I don’t have access to statistics that will back this up, but the eye test says there haven’t been many better right tackles in the league in the second half of the season. The first half was frustrating – he had far too many penalties and the offense suffered as a consequence. Now he’s playing at an elite level for a right tackle. There, I said it.

This is how I’ll back that statement up…

Jared Allen, Cameron Wake, Julius Peppers, Mario Williams, Aldon Smith.

Five of the NFL’s best pass rushers. Five players who had absolutely no impact rushing the edge against the Seahawks. Some of that’s down to Russell Okung. Some of that’s down to Russell Wilson’s quick thinking and elusiveness. Some of it’s down to the brilliant play of Breno Giacomini.

The league isn’t stupid and they’re not going to line these guys against Okung every snap. They’ve tested Giacomini. And he’s answered the question. The entire offensive line has answered the question. Gone are the days where quarterbacks have no time to throw or appear to be under constant duress. Gone are the days when this team gets pushed around in the trenches. ESPN has removed the video of Trey Wingo, Mark Schlereth and Tedy Bruschi all picking the Seahawks to beat the Niners this week. I can’t directly quote Bruschi, but he made reference to there being only one team in the league that was physical enough on the offensive line to deal with the Niners. That team was Seattle.

Amid all the impressive performances against the leagues top pass rushers, the Seahawks maintain the #1 ranking for run offense. There’s no getting away from it, this is an elite unit and Giacomini deserves some credit. They all do.

It’s also a fluid situation. Carpenter, Paul McQuistan and John Moffitt have all spent time at left guard. McQuistan, Moffitt and J.R. Sweezy have all started at right guard. The coaches are happy to do this because they trust all of their guys. How many of you held your breath when you discovered Sweezy rather than Moffitt would start against the Niners? And how many of you noticed Sweezy during the game?

Going back to the New York Giants offensive line – the #1 line in the league according to Football Outsiders. They have a similar system, where they’ve had to plug people into the line-up. They’ve also won Super Bowls. They haven’t filled the line with pricey first and second round picks. Their biggest investment on the line was second round tackle William Beatty in 2009. What they have done is create consistency at the line, let the players learn the scheme and then trust them to execute. I ‘ve used this quote before, and I’ll keep rolling it out. This is the secret to success according to Giants guard David Diehl:

“People forget playing together for a long period of time is what makes you the best as possible. Now with someone getting hurt, or free agency, you don’t see a group together very long. When we had our best years here, it was when the five of us played together during that one long stretch. That’s what you have to have to have an effective offensive line. You have to have a lot of game experience together because there is so much continuity, fitting next to each other, being on the same page, being able to communicate when you can’t hear because of the noise.”

If you buy into this theory – and I do – the worst thing you can do is keep changing the offensive line every year. Consistency is key. You don’t have to keep going to the well to pick up first or second round picks.

Another quote I like? This one from Mike Shanahan:

“Everybody says we don’t have a good right tackle. I say show me who does?”

The Seattle Seahawks, Mike. They have a good right tackle. You might get a chance to meet him in the Playoffs.

This team has underrated quality on the offensive line, solid depth and a group of individuals who just get the system. They are familiar with each other. And they are helping this team win games of football. What’s more, they are organised by one of the best line coaches in the NFL, if not the best. I’m not trying to tell people what to think, but the offensive line just doesn’t look like a vital upgrade target. The depth’s good too.

The teams biggest needs – in my opinion – are as follows:

Three-technique – we’ve all seen how effective Aldon Smith is with a partner in crime. And yesterday we saw how effective he is without Justin Smith. The 4-3 under scheme Seattle uses is supposed to put a three-tech and the LEO next to each other so that a similar partnership can develop. Clemons has 11.5 sacks without that advantage. If the Seahawks can find a guy capable of crashing the pocket from the interior, Clemons and eventually Bruce Irvin will dominate in the same way Aldon Smith has in San Francisco. If only players like Justin Smith weren’t so rare…

Wide receiver – Sidney Rice, Golden Tate and Doug Baldwin. Essentially, that’s Seattle’s real depth chart at wide out. And it’s not big enough. And it’s not good enough. There’s room for at least one more top target to be added to that group especially with the respective injury history’s of the aforementioned players. Russell Wilson needs good targets just as much as he needs good pass protection and a running game. This is a vital need for the Seahawks.

WILL Linebacker – Leroy Hill continues to start ahead of Malcolm Smith and it leaves open the possibility that this is an area the Seahawks will consider upgrading in the draft next April, especially with players like Alec Ogletree expected to turn pro and Arthur Brown entering the league after his senior year at Kansas State.

Notes

Now that the Seahawks have qualified for the playoffs, they will pick no lower than #21 overall in the 2013 draft.

I’m planning a piece on Kyle Van Noy (DE, BYU) for after Christmas. Although I don’t think the Seahawks will draft another LEO rusher in round one next April, he looks almost too perfect for the role. After his big performance against San Diego State in the Poinsietta Bowl, I wanted to highlight just how good he could be. He has first round potential, but he won’t fit every scheme. He fits like a glove in Seattle.

67 Responses to “Time to give the offensive line credit”

  1. Kenny Sloth says:

    Van Noy stood out to me on tape while I was watching Ansah. I actually gave up writing a piece about him. It’s about halfway done.

  2. MJ says:

    Amen! So annoyed by SEA fans who think we gotta spend another first on a RT. Ridiculous. Get our young QB some toys and keep building the defense.

    • Jim Kelly says:

      Since 2006, the Seahawks repeatedly tried to replace four players, and either would put it off or be unable to find a suitable replacement. Those four, in no order of priority were Matt Hasselbeck, Steve Hutchinson, Walter Jones, and Marcus Tubbs.

      For years fans clamored for Hutch’s and Beck’s replacement. The Hawks were unable to find them. We were so used to asking for them that maybe we fell into the trap of routinely asking for their replacement, even when they were on the team? It could just be that we’ve fallen into a “routine” and have the mindset that we need to keep building the offensive line, even when it ain’t broke.

      Rocky Bernard and Bryce Fisher had career years when Marcus Tubbs was healthy. The Seahawks led the league in sacks that year. Tubbs took up two linemen on every play. The whole defense fed off of him. The line can get sacks when the coverage is strong. The linebackers can get good penetration and fill lanes if the safeties can help in run support. Yeah, the defense feeds off of its various parts to make itself stronger. It’s the concept of the whole is greater than the individual parts. And the best that the Seahawks were when they had combinations like Tubbs/Bernard, Cortez Kennedy/Sam Adams, Michael Sinclair/ Michael McCrary or Rufus Porter, Jacob Green/Joe Nash/Jeff Bryant. All of these men fed off each other. The three most successful times in franchise history that the Seahawks defense has been has been when they had an inside presence that allowed the outside players to thrive. I’d love to see a defense this good have that presence. Without that missing player, offenses have been able to scheme, and not only take out Chris Clemons, but put one, or even two, extra blockers at the point of attack, and cause the defensive inconsistency that we’ve seen. The increase in opponents success in yards per carry isn’t because the Hawks are worse at that then the beginning of the year, it’s because they’re taking advantage of the defense’s weakest point. Because of scheme, and guys like Alan Branch, that weak link is stronger than many teams strengths, but it can be exploited, especially with repetition.

      The defense has two areas that need to be upgraded. When a three technique that can crash the pocket, and a will that can come up and fill his responsibilities a little better, this defense will allow fewer yards, force more turnovers, and get off the field on third downs more regularly.

      I’m hoping that Rob’s beating the defensive needs drum will help people forget the need to draft offensive line mantra. And the sooner, the better.

  3. Elijah says:

    I’m watching the Hawaii Bowl right now and Rob, I have to know what you think aboue SMU defensive end Margus Hunt. He’s 6’8″ 280 lbs. and the announcers referenced he has 4.6 speed. He looks explosive for someone his size, and I’n curious about what his draft stock is looking like

  4. Great piece, Rob. I heartily agree. At this point, they’ve established their starters: Okung, Carpenter, Unger, Sweezy, Giacomini, with Moffitt as a 6th man of sorts, the general interior jack-of-all-trades. Guys like McQuistan, Jeanpierre, and Omiyale offer fantastic depth (and don’t sleep on Rishaw Johnson – he was a solid 3rd-4th round prospect who fell due to some character concerns). Now it’s all about consistency.

    Re: Van Noy – interesting you mention him as a LEO candidate. His game does seem tailor-made for the role, though he’s a little bit on the light side. When I watched the tape of him vs SDSU, I was blown away at how perfectly he was playing a role that seemed almost identical to Seattle’s SAM. He’s the type of explosive playmaker who could certainly justify an early pick, particularly for a team as stacked as the Seahawks.

  5. JC says:

    So I’m wrapping presents and have the Hawaii Bowl on for background noise and I keep hearing SMUs Margus Hunt being called out. Now, I know it’s only Fresno State but he already has two sack/fumbles and a safety in the first half.

    I don’t have nearly the eyes to see if he’s anywhere near an NFL guy or if he would fit in Seattle’s scheme but he’s a senior play his four year of football in his entire life having moved to the US from Estonia.

    • Rob Staton says:

      He’s been superb in the first half. Incredible in fact. He has games like this every now and again. Going to be interesting to see where teams have him ranked.

  6. Brincke says:

    Hey rob – What dó you think of BYU WR cody Hoffmann? I saw a little of the pregame show for their Bowl game, and they said he was ALL of the BYU passing game and he has the size with 6’4?

  7. AlaskaHawk says:

    Rob – I agree with your top three needs and think they will be picked in that order. In fact I think we should double up on receivers. I see PC trying out some guys on the field and there are more new names on the practice squad. Maybe he will get lucky with one of them, but maybe we will get lucky in the draft!

    As for the offensive line I’ve been one of the biggest critics. The fact is that they have tried a lot of different players in the line. They were penalty prone, and they didn’t always block well in the first half of the season. Fortunately Marshawn is able to run over tacklers and kept the run game alive even when the blocking wasn’t great.

    The line has gelled since the lackluster game in Miami and has played excellently. Bottom line – the current lineup has got real potential. Lets hope this line can stay healthy and take us to the superbowl.

  8. Snoop Dogg says:

    I think I know why the offensive line is putting up suddenly dominating performances! And it should be added for more fuel to Russell Wilson’s ROY campaign.

    -The run blocking is better because of RW’s ability to run the read-option so effectively. (Causing the defense to hesitate before being blocked or left out of the play and flipping the offense-to-defense numbers game).

    -The pass blocking has been better because of RW’s elusiveness. Pass rushers (like #55 on the 49ers) have to worry as much about how to track him down as much as they have to worry about beating the offensive line. They have to slow down their pass rush to prepare for the side-to-side quickness of RW. Also, because of his mobility, small stature, and tendency to go outside the pocket, I am not sure that every pass rusher knows where RW is on every play.

    Do you agree with this? Our offensive line is putting up stats that probably make everyone outside Seattle think they are the best in the league (NY Giants, SF, and a select few might be ahead of them). I think that they are on their way to that status, but for now are looking a lot better because of RW. I am completely fine with this because our line + RW’s presence makes them perform as good as anyone in the league.

    My question for Rob is:

    As the expert on all things Seahawks draft, would you put offensive line in the same category as QB, Safety, Running Back, Cornerback, etc. where we would only draft someone if they were truly an elite prospect that fell to us or would you say that it is still a group of positions that Pete and John might choose to spend multiple mid-to-late round picks on?

    • Rob Staton says:

      While I accept Wilson’s elusive nature does help in some situations, I don’t accept that this is masking the quality of the offensive line. There are a lot of basic power run formations, where the Seahawks line up almost telling the opponent they’re going to run the ball. And they do. And they still find productivity. That is what this team is all about – we’re going to do what we do and you have to stop us. The offensive line is doing a great job run blocking and in pass protection. This is why I listed the big name pass rushers they’ve faced. Is the reason those guys were non existent down to Wilson? Were they dominating the line only to be beaten by an elusive QB? Nope. They were beaten by good blocking.

      As for the O-line, you don’t go there at all in round one for me. Seattle is currently picking 26th overall and can’t pick lower than 21st. There is zero chance a Warmack or Cooper drops to the Seahawks. So it’s a moot point really. If they find a lineman later on that they like for depth purposes, then that is an option. But the first few rounds should be, and probably will be, about addressing other areas of the team.

  9. GH says:

    I don’t think they need to spend a first rounder on O line, but frankly, I view Carpenter as a non entity, so far. He’s been mediocre at best most of the time he’s managed to play, and hurt more often than not.Not confident going forward, at all.

    And the issue with these rankings you cite is that they are collective- the Oline in individual scores is a matter of haves and have nots. I know you don’t have access to them, but the PFF stats show Okung and Unger as excellent, bringing the average up for a very bad Breno, a void like LG situation, and an inconsistent Moffit. Maybe that’s fine. It seems to be. But if you can improve that, why not? The team is run first, designed to control the line of scrimmage, and physically wear out opponents. That means owning the trenches.

    I will add that Miller is frequently in to help Breno. You have to factor that in to the ‘job’ he’s done on elite pass rushers, and how that’s negatively impacted the passing game.

    Again, I’m going DT first, or LB, but I’m also looking for an upgrade on the O line. If I see an upgrade later, I’d take it and not even blink about a 4th wide receiver (and I’m not thinking elite #1 wr in this class). If you can find a better player to bring that mediocre pass blocking to upper tier, it will help WIlson and ALL of the wide receivers just as much as an elite

    O linemen go down, a lot. Depth is nice there just as much as WR.

    There are very good articles out there detailing the risks in drafting WRs.. There’s no elite prospect this year that screams #1 wide receiver. I’d take a scatter gun approach in the mid rounds rather than try to snipe the next Julio Jones in the first two most years- and especially this year. There are two elite guard prospects this year, multiple first round tackles, and several very promising lineman likely to be in the 2nd and 3rd round. They all seem as much better and reliable prospects than many of the Wide Receivers, many of whom will be around later on.

    If they’re truly going BPA, in addition to need, to my mind they go with DT, LB and OL based on player rankings, then throw a wide net from 3rd round on.

    You can improve your passing game by getting more time and/or by getting better WRs. It seems like the talent this year dictates getting the better OL first, and casting a wide WR net later on.

    Not trying to be argumentative here, just presenting a different view.

    • GH says:

      I’ll also add, as a general comment, that just because the rest of the league doesn’t have a good RT is no reason not to have one yourself. If any situation presents a comparative advantage you should do it. Stating that outside of the Breno debate. Just that if an argument is other teams have a bad X position it doesn’t mean much. Not many teams have elite wide receivers, either….so?

      • Rob Staton says:

        This misses the point a little. The fact is the entire league is struggling to find good RT’s because of the nature of the position. We’ve been over this a lot before, but the best athletes in the league play defense these days. Most teams have two speed rushers now, not one. It makes life very difficult for RT’s who by nature are probably 2/3′s the athletes that LT’s are. And unless you spend top 10-15 picks at RT, you’ll struggle to find great athletes to play RT. The fact is Seattle has one of the best RT’s in the league, a league that struggles for productivity at the position. This is not a need for the Seahawks. Simple as that.

        And let’s not mess around here, there are MANY, MANY more elite WRs than RTs in the league. As fans we cannot fall into the cliched fan-think of “offensive line in draft = good every time, wide receiver in draft = bad”.

        • Alex says:

          pretty much. There simply aren’t any dominant RTs in the league (which matches what Shannahan says). They may have existed at one time in the 90s till the mid 00s when the tackle position was the single strongest position (quality and depth) in the whole league. Today though, they simply don’t exist. You can’t ask for something that simply doesn’t exist in the draft or even in the current league.

          What we really have today in the current league are about 8 franchise left tackles who all do their jobs really well and 1 franchise right tackle in Sebastian Vollmer. That’s it. Are they playing at a HOF level? No. Are they doing their jobs really well, yes. That’s about as much as we can expect.

    • Rob Staton says:

      We’ve addressed the PFF ranking already to be fair. Giacomini is hammered due to the sheer number of penalties conceded early in the season. Everyone knows that was an issue, but it’s since been rectified. The eye test over the second half of the season would argue he’s been superb. I’m not sure how anyone can argue against that and I suspect if they’d done their ranking from mid-season, he’d be right up near the top of the rankings.

      And the great thing about an offensive line is there’s no need to look a individuals. It is truly all about the collective unit. Being an offensive lineman is not a one man job. You can look at a quarterback, receiver, defensive back. You can’t look at lineman individually. Sure, if one player drags down the entire line and is a major problem, you can seek an upgrade. But as a collective group right now Seattle is #1 for run blocking and #16 for pass protection, having given up the 8th fewest sacks. That is more than good enough. What’s more, they’ve had to use their depth at the position due to injuries and there’s been no issues. This is a good, young offensive line with depth, well coached and it’s only going to get better with time.

      And Miller isn’t in to help Breno. He has his own blocking responsibilities most of the time. See the mini-hold he had to spring Lynch on Sunday night. Breno blocked his own guy, Miller picked up the edge blitzer. It’s a misconception that the TE is merely in to help the tackle. He has his own options in the pass game based on the defensive look and in run blocking, he’ll have a designated block.

      I’ve also not see many good articles detailing risk in drafting WRs. I’ve seen people assume they are bad news because poor GM’s have made terrible decisions. Matt Millen makes several bone head decisions and suddenly the position group is no good. Was it a bad decision to draft AJ Green? Julio Jones? Dez Bryant? Demaryius Thomas? All top ten receivers this year. You avoid busts at the position by good scouting. You avoid busts by drafting receivers early and expecting a bad QB behind a bad line with a bad running game to make them productive. That’s how Detroit and Millen failed. There’s no such problem in Seattle. They have everything on offense to accommodate an early pick at WR.

      And let’s be clear here – history means nothing. If 99 round one receivers are busts, it doesn’t mean #100 won’t make the Hall of Fame. We shouldn’t be afraid to fill a vital need early in the draft. Pass rushers all bust quite a lot, but nobody seems to argue about that much.

      • GH says:

        ” I suspect if they’d done their ranking from mid-season, he’d be right up near the top of the rankings”

        I look forward to the rankings as they come out again, it may be true. I guess the question is if they are different which ones to you trust going forward? Perhaps the later figures, but I won’t totally dismiss the earlier ones and will take the season as a collective. Fair enough point, however.

        While I agree with you that the offensive line is also seen as a unit and a collective, it’s also true that individuals matter.

        All in all, I’m going to trust the pick they make. But for me, if they are sitting there in the second round and there’s a choice between a guard or tackle who they view as a better pro than the next WR, I’m absolutely ok with them taking the lineman that moves one of their existing guys into a deeper rotation position. I think that scenario is entirely likely given the talent in this years draft- there are a lot of highly regarded lineman and the WR class seems….weak? I dunno if that’s the word, but definitely more of a crap shoot than the lineman class. IF they are truly drafting for BPA and depth, and what presents itself is a G or swing tackle, hey…do it.

        I do think the idea that you can find good wide receivers in deeper rounds has merit. Of course, I think the same case can be made for lineman. But I think this particular draft bears towards premium line talent more than WR talent.

        You’ve made a good case here, Rob. I am definitely not trying to troll or argue for the sake of it, but merely trying to present a different perspective. I’m not gonna lie, the thought of Patterson or Hunter or Rogers going deep in this offense is extremely exciting to me. But so is the idea that they Hawks have a line that can impose its will on the defense- the kind of line like 05, where the opposition knew what was coming could rarely stop it. They don’t have that right now, but if they did it would make the rest of the offense better.

        Happy Holidays.

        • Alex says:

          Well, let’s put aside the fact that these game changing-HOF tackles don’t even exist in the current league AND we’re somehow able to pick one because a future HOF tackle has an Aaron Rodgers-type fall about 20 places from where he was projected to be picked.

          The truth of the matter is that you don’t need a complete iron clad OL in this league.

          Yes, there was a time in NFL History when you saw monster OLs. The 70s Raiders, the 80s Redskins, the early 90s Cowboys, the late 90s ZBS Broncos. The 80s-90s 49ers could also be thrown in there. However, the advent of the salary cap era has simply made it unfeasible to invest all that money into the OL when you have the DL, LB, DB, WR, etc positions to worry about. NFL.com ran a video on this and basically what we was shown is that teams are now forced to identify the most crucial positions, the most irreplaceable positions are and keep those players, but turnover the rest. It’s now simply not economically (cap wise) feasible to keep your whole OL intact for the next 10 years.

          These premium positions would normally include the QB position, Pass rusher, #1 WR, #1 CB, etc. On the OL, 2 positions are identified as the most important- the Center position and the Left Tackle Position. The Left Tackle still protects the blind side so it’ll always be important. The center position is the one required to communicate with the rest of the OL and determine who blocks who. The others are replaceable.

          And behold, last year, the Texans did exactly that when they had probably the best overall OL. They resigned their center and left tackle to big fat contracts and allowed the rest to leave. Another example is what Bill Polian did to build those Colts. He had exactly 2 Pro Bowl calibre players on the OL- Center Jeff Saturday and Left Tackle Tarik Glenn- the rest would be turned over every few years because Bill Polian felt he could improve the team elsewhere rather than fill out a long term solution at the LG,RG, and RT position.

          What the Texans did this year to compensate for their weak right side, which used to be anchored by Eric Winston, was that they ran almost everything exclusively to the left side where Duane Brown was just mauling his opponents. If they ran to the right side, it was because they moved all the blockers (TE, etc) to the right side.

          What this showed me was that it’s possible to be a very good OL, with just one dominant side. In many ways, the Seahawks did not have an all-world right side in 2005. They had an extremely dominant left side with TWO Hall of Famers manning the Left Tackle and Left Guard positions.

          In short, in this current era
          1. It’s not smart cap wise to put all that money into the OL when there are other positions other than the OL. Identify the most important ones- center and left tackle- and lock them down.
          2. It’s very possible to have a dominant OL with just one dominant side. The 2005 Seahawks are the perfect example.

          We haven’t even entered the discussion of how much a QB can compensate for the OL that in many ways can devalue the OL. Big Ben, Aaron Rodgers, Peyton Manning. All of those players can compensate for weaknesses in the OL by having a complete understanding of the field.

      • Rock says:

        Russel l Wilson’s escapability is second to none in the league right now. It might be argued that RG3 is a better dual threat QB but he doesn’t have the feel for the rush in the pocket RW has. Still we are 16th in the league in sacks. Rob, you seem to think this is a tribute to the line. It is not! PC wants to use two TE’s. We have a great one in Zack Miller who is moored to the line alongside Giacomini. You seem to feel that is by design. It is not! We have a great RB in Marshawn Lynch. His effectiveness has gone up in recent weeks since we started running the Read/Option with RW. You attribute this to the line. It is not! If the line was so dominate we would have been winning games by larger scores earlier in the year when all we did was run the ball. If the line was so dominate we would not be 16th in sacks with a QB that rarely throws. The fact is, on most passing downs RW is running for his life. Fortunately, he is good at it. There is a reason Peyton Manning did not entertain the idea of coming to Seattle. Peyton, despite his lack of mobility and with far more passing attempts has been sacked less than Wilson in Denver.

        You cite our #16 ranking in Adjusted Sacks Allowed as proof positive we do not need any offensive linemen and should instead invest in the defense. We have the #1 ranked defense in Points Allowed and are #4 in Yards Allowed. We have spent heavily in free agency for DL’s including 3-Techs and invested high draft picks on Thomas, Wagner and Irvin. Yet, somehow you feel more investment in the #1 rated defense is warranted and investment in the #16 offense is not. That is an illogical argument.

        The truth is these draft blogs preach “Best Player Available” for their respective franchises but always fall into the trap of assessing their teams greatest needs and then proceeding from there. They identify a couple guys at the position they feel is the greatest need and project the most popular guy as their teams choice in round 1 or 2. It isn’t hard. The rest of the year is spent rejecting every other possibility to preserve the orthodoxy. The orthodoxy then spreads like wild fire through the internet from one mock draft to the next until draft day when most of them have it totally wrong. On draft day we get to listen to guys like Mel Kiper try to justify their existence by declaring that because the Seahawks passed on Couples to pick of Irvin, Wagner, Wilson and Lane, they had the worst draft ever. Frankly, I hope for more. A true BPA approach would be far more open minded than this. But, I guess I can play along with the conventional wisdom and keep it to myself when I think outside the box. Let us all target Sheldon Richardson, Cordarelle Patterson and Brandon Coleman. Nothing else will do.

        • Rob Staton says:

          I’m going to quick fire these points because I don’t want to go around in circles.

          1- Major assumption here that Zach Miller is being used in anything but the exact way Carroll intends. If you can name me all the productive tight ends at USC he had over the years with major catches/receiving yardage, I’m all ears. Miller is not ‘moored’ to Giacomini in the slightest. This is how the Seahawks offense is going to run. If they intended to use Miller purely as a productive receiver, they would’ve signed a blocking tight end to accommodate the role next to Giacomini as you state and played Miller a lot more in the slot or as the receiving #2 TE. They haven’t done this. If you break down the tape specifically you will never – and I mean NEVER – see Miller ‘helping’ Giacomini with his specified block. He always has his own option of block/route for passing downs and block for running downs. So unless you expect the right tackle to block two guys, he’s not being ‘moored’ at all. This is the bread and butter of a run heavy scheme. Too many people saw the contract and yardage at Oakland and expected the same in Seattle. This is what Carroll paid for. And it’s working.

          2- The quote, “If the line was so dominate we would have been winning games by larger scores earlier in the year” completely ignores what was going on at the start of the year. Carroll has repeatedly mentioned how much he was holding Wilson back due to his inexperience as a rookie. He’s also repeatedly talked about the time they opened things up when he hit a point of readiness. Since that moment, the offense has been among the best in the league. Wilson has improved and become more effective, the running game has picked up, the blocking is better and the receivers are having an impact. Everything has improved. But Wilson’s inexperience and the learning curve that existed had a greater factor than anything else in however many points Seattle scored earlier in the year. We are not 16th in sacks as you quoted, we are 8th. There are seven teams with less sacks. The Seahawks have conceded 27 sacks. New York is first with 19 sacks. Denver is second with 21 sacks. The third placed team – New Orleans – have conceded 24 sacks. So three sacks separate the Seahawks and being 3rd in the league for sacks.

          3- If you think Peyton Manning didn’t entertain coming to Seattle because of the offensive line, I don’t really know where to begin. The Seahawks were never ever realistic suitors for Manning. And it had nothing to do with the offensive line.

          4- There are other defensive statistics that don’t show the team in the kind of light you’re painting. Between the two San Francisco games – a stretch of nine weeks – Seattle actually were ranked dead last for run defense. So while there are positive aspects to it, I don’t think we’ve seen the best of a unit with definite elite potential. When I watch the games, I see we use exclusively a four man rush on base defense. And I see how completely ineffective we’ve been rushing the passer in base. Although I haven’t broken it down and looked at the numbers, I’m almost certain that most of the teams sacks have occurred in nickel (3rd down, passing defense) when Bruce Irvin and Jason Jones join Chris Clemons on the field – or when the team has been forced to blitz due to the ineffective nature of the pass rush in base. The entire concept of the 4-3 under is to create pressure with four so that your linebackers – who aren’t asked to pass rush – and the defensive backs can be free’d to make plays on the football – aka Turnovers. What’s Pete Carroll’s big thing? Turnovers. So until they can create pressure with four on early downs, we will never see the true potential of this defense. Right now the team is starting a nose tackle at the three technique. Alan Branch is +330lbs and he cannot rush the passer. Needs must. Three technique’s don’t grow on tree’s. But for this defense to truly dominate and live up to it’s potential, they need to upgrade that position. The 4-3 under puts the three and the LEO in 1vs1 matchups. Clemons could actually be as effective as Aldon Smith working with Justin Smith. He isn’t, because the three technique doesn’t do his job at the moment. Branch eats space. And given how poor the teams run defense has been for nine weeks, we’re not even getting any benefit there. This is a huge need for the Seahawks, I’m not sure how anyone can argue against that.

          5- Please answer me this… how much success has Jared Allen, Cameron Wake, Julius Peppers, Mario Williams, Aldon Smith had against this team recently? And how much pressure has Ryan, Tannehill, Ryan Fitzgerald, John Skelton and Jay Cutler faced despite playing behind awful offensive lines featuring mostly backups?

          6- This blog has never sought to close the book on any options, but we also try not to waste our time – or other peoples. Sometimes we’ve acted on information. Last year we were told from a valued source the team would almost certainly draft a pass rusher in round one. That proved to be the case, we just failed to identify the player in question (in fairness, who did see Irvin as the #15 overall pick?). If you search the archives, you’ll see the same source told us the night before the 2011 draft that Seattle was leaning heavily towards the offensive line in round one that year. There’s also a reason in 2010 why both Kip and I mocked the Seahawks to go tackle/safety in round one. When we don’t rely on our sources, we try to work out Carroll and Schneider and provide Seahawks fans with detailed analysis the best we can. I’m not going to spend hours of my free time analysing a position we won’t draft for. So far, we’ve avoided wasting time in such a way. I intend to continue that. It’s all part of the process – working out the needs and refining the analysis. If you want to believe the Seahawks are going to draft a tackle or guard in round one next year, then that is your decision. Feel free to start a blog and write about it, just like me. But don’t accuse this blog of anything just because we’re not writing about your favoured direction.

          • A. Simmons says:

            Amen, Rob. This blog is not biased. You cover tons of prospects over the year. Post tons of film. Give your take and let others give theirs.

            You know I’m with you about he interior defensive line. It’s as plain as the nose on my face that the interior line needs a talent upgrade. I don’t necessarily expect a first round pick, I just expect a pick from the first three rounds to upgrade the talent.

            I think wide receiver and LB is weak as well. When Rice, Baldwin, and Tate are healthy as they are now, they are dangerous. When one goes down, we don’t have much behind them.

            Same with the LB position.

            Greg Scruggs has shown some ability. I like him better as rotational depth. I think the guard position looks good with Moffitt, Sweezy, and Carpenter (who I think will be healthy by next year).

            So for me it is interior pass rushing DT, wide receiver, and WLB as the focus of this draft. I’m even comfortable with TE. Miller is well-rounded, above average TE that allows us to run-pass with equal efficiency. Anthony McCoy is looking like a 6th round steal.

    • Alex says:

      It’s really hard to just jump off James Carpenter at this point. Like Okung, he has had his fair share of injury problems. Both of them were perfectly fine in college injury wise. Until this year, Okung was also injured. In other words, it’s quite possible that Carpenter could be injury free next year (or not, but we don’t know).

      WIth that being said, while Carpenter had his share of struggles at the Right Tackle position because of his discomfort with the right side, it seems he’s perfectly natural at the LG position. There was a time before he got injured this year that he flat out looked dominant at the LG position. He was reaching the 2nd level more than Unger or Okung, whom are both playing at Pro Bowl levels. Even if it was a short while, I see enough that I’m willing to hold off on the LG position. The RG position is fine with Sweezy, Moffitt, McQuistan.

      If you want to argue, yeah, the RT position may lack some depth behind Breno so there may be an argument for a 3rd-5th round pick there. However, Breno himself has performed admirably at that position. There are certainly other positions that have a far greater need- 3 Tech DT, Will LB, WR, TE, that the RT position ought to be pushed into the middle rounds.

      “just because the rest of the league doesn’t have a good RT is no reason not to have one yourself. If any situation presents a comparative advantage you should do it. ”

      This has been mentioned before that there are two fundamental problems.
      1. If you’re picking a RT with an early round pick (1-2), then you’re sacrificing your chance to upgrade this team in a more significant way by ignoring one of the team’s bigger needs. The truth of the matter is that RT is playing at a sufficient level right now. Will LB? Not at much. 3 Tech? Not as much. So yeah, you may upgrade the team with a 2nd round RT, but you’ve left a weakness of the team unaddressed. It’s a classic opportunity cost.
      2. It’s one thing to look for a RT, it’s another one entirely to actually be able to draft it in the range we’re in. The best tackles in this draft are projected to be picked in the top 10. There’s a second tier of linemen projected between the 10-20 range. After that, there’s a drop off in talent. In other words, based on where we’re drafting (likely 25 or later), there are no linemen in that range worth drafting. As projected, the position of greatest value that will seem to fall into that range may be TE, Will LB, or WR. As much as I rate DT as the #1 need, I also don’t see us picking a DT simply because the value isn’t there based on where we’re picking.

      Now, if the next Walter Jones, Jonathon Ogden, or even Lincoln Kennedy (great RT around the turn of the millenium) drops to us, do we take one? Sure, if he is BPA. Problem? All of them are usually taken in the top 10 just as Luke Joeckel (not that I rate him at those people’s level, but tackles are just taken early) will probably taken in the top 10.

      Heck, these HOF players not only don’t exist in the draft, they don’t even exist in the current league. The best tackles on the blindside this year are probably Duane Brown, Ryan Clandy, Trent Williams, Russell Okung, Joe Thomas, and Joe Staley. Are they franchise tackles? Yes. Are any of them HOF material (dominant on both run blocking and pass blocking) like the Willie Roafs, Orlando Pace, Tony Boselli, Walter Jones, Jonathon Ogden of the past? No because the tackles I listed are usually very good at both run blocking and pass blocking, but elite in neither (Duane Brown) OR they are elite in one area, but average in the next (Joe Thomas, Joe Staley). The elite tackles today would be a second tier in that golden age of tackles (1995-2005) comparable to say a Tarik Glenn (blindside protector of Peyton Manning) who was able to sniff the Pro Bowl, but never get within range of the All Pro team.

      So sure, if the next great tackle shows up or even a great road grinder in Lincoln Kennedy, Erik Williams, or Larry Allen presents himself, go pick him. The only problem is that not only do that not exist in this current draft (a sub par draft for tackles in general), they don’t exist in the current league either at both the RT AND LT position.

      • GH says:

        Man, I think you guys assume way too much with Carpenter. So far he’s been nothing but out of shape, mediocre, and injury prone. “flashes” is just about that. I see no reason to assume anything from him at this point. For me, anything above average is nothing but bonus from this point. He’s definitely in question mark category, not anything else.

        I think this years draft is much stronger in the OL than WR, so I think it’s entirely likely that BPA in the second round is a lineman (unless that is the case for many of the teams and there’s a run on lineman that depletes the inventory by the time the Hawks come around again). There are a number of interior lineman I’d rather have before some of the WR prospects in this draft, and a couple of RTs.

        Like I said above, I’d be totally fine with a WR in round 2, but if they take a lineman in the first three rounds I won’t be shocked or surprised one bit.

        • Alex says:

          Not quite. It’s not just average. Carpenter has also looked dominant at the LG position before he got injured. He was actually playing the best overall on the line and that’s saying something considering that Okung and Unger are both playing at Pro Bowl levels.

          OL is definitely not stronger than WR. What you basically have in this draft are 2 really good tackles that will be drafted in the top 10 (more so because tackles are usually drafted that high), maybe 2 more tackles (at a level below) drafted in the 10-20 range. The tackle position in itself isn’t anything special this year. Sure, it’s better than say the 2011 draft when the likes of Nate Solder and Tyron Smith were considered the top pick or the 2009 draft with Jason Smith and Andre Smith. But it isn’t any better than say the 2012 draft with Matt Kalil at the top. It most certainly is weaker than the 2010 draft or 2008 draft, which were both considered fine years to pick a franchise tackle.

          Now, the guard position has two special players in Cooper and Warmack, but not only is our depth fine at those positions, they’re projected to be picked about 10 places ahead of us. Aside from those two, the guard position is like any other draft.

          The issue about WR>OL isn’t so much about the bust rate of WRs or our need of depth at RT, but rather about the value of the pick at WHERE WE’RE PICKING. Based on projections, the OL worth drafting in the 1st round will be gobbled up within the first 15 picks, if not 20 picks. We’re currently projected at ~ 25 if not later. The position where we can grab the greatest value in that range are the WR, TE, or Will LB.

          Again, I consider DT to be the #1 need, but I don’t think the Seahawks will pick one in the 1st round simply because there are positions of greater value based on where we’re picking.

          • GH says:

            Well, I guess I’d like to know where you’re getting the evaluation of Carpenter that he “looked” dominant, and that he was playing better than Okung and Unger. Because PFF doesn’t show that, at all.
            I don’t think these numbers are the be all and end all, but they showed Carp as miserable this year in all but one game, week 6. By their numbers he was horrible in the last two games before he went down.Of course, that’s setting aside the fact that he’s yet to have a healthy season, which at this point, I’m unwilling to say “Well, he might get healthy, Okung did.” The fact is, he’s been injury prone and the numbers I see at PFF match what I see on the field, outside of a couple of plays in his entire career (including LG) he looks lost, tired, and often over whelmed. Maybe that changes as he adjusts, but right now? Meh.

            I’m looking at the 2012 numbers for the O line now, per PFF. Again, I’m not saying these are the be all and end all, but I do think they are pretty worthwhile.

            They show Okung and Unger as very good, but they show Giacomini as horrible at the start of the year, then he had a series of ok games, and two decent/acceptable games. On the whole he’s been about league average since week 10, horrible before that for a sum of -7.5. That’s better than the much maligned Bobbie Massie (though Massie shows better improvement than Giacomini in the second half- he just had a bigger hole to dig), and worse than St. Louis’ Barry Richardson. So, in our own division alone , there’s two teams with better RTs, because you want to know what team has a really nice RT, btw? San Francisco- Anthony Davis. He’s at +16 for the season.

            Again, according to PFF, the hawks gave up 5 QB pressures- 4 of them from Breno.

            Just grabbing some playoff teams at random and going to post their PFF numbers….

            NE- Vollmer, +19, Baltimore -Osemele +.5, GB -Bulaga -2.9, Den -Orlando Franklin +19, Atlanta- Clabo +19, redskins- Polumbs -19, Hou- Newton -12

            So, there’s a collection of playoff teams with quite a spread of RTs. Clearly, there’s some good teams with bad right tackles, and good teams with good RTs. Obviously, a good RT doesn’t make a team nor does a bad one kill a team. We all pretty much understand where the pivot points are on a roster.

            But, I think this shows that if you want to put any faith in the PFF numbers, the Seahawks could improve RT.

            BTW, PFF is not too kind to Moffitt, either (-12).

            Take it all for what you want, but I like the methodology there at PFF. I think it’s better than just looking at sack totals and the line as a unit.

            • GH says:

              meant to say that in the SF game, the hawks gave up 5 QB pressures and breno gave up 4 of them. This pattern continues throughout the season- the consistent source of QB pressure is Breno, per PFF.

              Sure, lots of teams have bad RTs. But If one is available in round 2 or 3 they feel is better (fluker) or a guard to protect against the bad play or injury we’ve seen from Carp (there are a few pretty good prospects that seem worthwhile beyond the elite 2) then I have no qualms about getting those guys.

              I’ll wrap it up by saying I think it’s very possible to solve the DT, LB, WR and OL questions (if you happen to have them) in this draft- it’s not an either or matter.

              Cheers.

  10. D says:

    The Sweezy story is just out of this world. Seriously a 7rd drafted DT starting at G? Cable should be put on a frigging pedistal for finding and coaching this magic.

    Did you guys see Sweezy taking out Willis leg on Marshaws TD? Now that’s a cut block. look at nfl.com’s highlights.

    • AlaskaHawk says:

      I love the Sweezy story but in some ways it shows how desperate we were to find offensive linemen.

      • Rob Staton says:

        I don’t think it says that at all. They didn’t draft Sweezy and think.. “Ot-ow, better turn this guy into a guard because we’re short”. They specifically targetted him to play on offense. Cable worked him out Pre draft to see if he could get the change. And he proved he could do it. No desperation at all… A lot of thought and planning went into that pick.

      • D says:

        Lots of other options than going with a DT in the 7th (like the dreadlock guy from the smal school). The Sweezy pick was anything but desperation, it was taking the long road to something the believed in.

        The fact that he has started some games just blows my mind. The guys haven’t played OL in 10 years!

        • And really, the fact that he took to the position as quickly as he did speaks to his intelligence and ability, indicating that his ceiling is very high. I’d say he has legitimate Pro Bowl RT potential. He’s extremely athletic and he picked up Cable’s system really fast. He’s already a good run blocker, and he proved in the most recent game against SF that he can become a good pass protector as well.

      • Elijah says:

        Yeah, it was a planned move by and far. Sweezy is easily the most athletic RG in the league, and I bet he was drafted with the intention that on sweeps, counters, and tosses he’d be beastly getting too the second level. Great pick up, great vision by the coaches

      • A. Simmons says:

        Drafting a 7th round former DT and converting him to OL is a desperation pick? Seems to me more like a luxury pick that happened to work out very well.

  11. Belgaron says:

    I agree with the needs as posted, after the list I would add G with a caveat that if Carpenter gets healthy and comes to camp in shape, it will be like adding a first round G to a great unit. If J.R. gets stronger in the off-season workout program to go along with his speed, he could be like adding another first round talent next year. Breno and Okung will benefit greatly this off season with working with a consistent and improving force at QB who will get all of the first team snaps moving forward.

    The fun thing about the draft is that Seattle has already been drafting like they’ve been in the playoffs every year. Carpenter and Irvin were both considered guys who might have been available at the end of the first round. Quality organizations are capable of finding high impact guys at that point without trading up. It is an area where lineman, linebackers and wide receivers can be found. But Seahawks have found high upside guys at every round of the draft, it almost seems unfair to the rest of the league to allow them additional drafts.

  12. Phil says:

    Rob – what is the status of PC’s contract and those for Cable, Bevell, Bradley, and JS? These guys are gold and they deserve to be credited with much of the success that has come to this team. With success comes opportunity and I’d hate to lose any of them if it could be avoided by sweetening their contracts, or extending them.

    • Rob Staton says:

      Carroll has two years left on his deal. I’m not sure they announced the deals for the other staff.

      • The nice thing is, if they WANT to stay, our owner, unlike many, can afford to pay them top money to keep them here.

        I actually hope that’s the case. Continuity across the board, as much as possible. Build a dynasty, boys. Build a dynasty.

        • Alex says:

          lol, so true. Unlike the roster, THERE IS NO CAP on the staff. If Paul Allen wanted to, he could pay position coaches like coordinators and his coordinators like HC.

  13. Paul Levy says:

    Great article! Our O’ line is working great BECAUSE we don’t hear about them now!!

    I personally agree that we should really go after offensive weapons for DangeRussWilson! Imagine if he has Rice, Tate, and then 6-6 Brandon Coleman (raw), or 6-4 Justin Hunter, or 6-3 Cordarelle Patterson / Keenan Allen / or Terrance Williams!! They r all FAST and TALL! Wilson has such a great long ball throw, so why not arm him now so we get that chemistry building for years to come!

    I say we use our first round pick on the best WR, then trade Matt Flynn for a second round pick to a team that needs a QB, KC, Jets, Jags, ARZ?, and use that pick which will be early in round 2 to get a big catching TE like Tyler Eifert or Zach Ertz! I also LOVE Tavon Austin, but at 5’9″ he may be tricky to choose when we all ready have such short WR- Tate and Baldwin at 5’10″…

    I would love to see that second round pick of our own ALSO get another WR…WHY NOT! WE have 9 picks overall, plenty to shore up and add to D and O’line…

    What do you think? Which WR do u have an eye on? Could you see what I envision with Tavon Austin (sub 4.40 – 40) besides Wilson with Lynch in the backfield in a pistol type offense. Austin is faster that RG3, and w Wilson- we could do some damage that way!

    Do you think we can get a 2nd round pick for Matt Flynn??
    Cheers and Merry Christmas!!
    Paul

    • Rob Staton says:

      Merry Christmas Paul. Personally, I think the best we can hope for in a Flynn trade is a late round pick. Round five seems about right. We have to remember, he’s a career backup approaching 30. When he was a free agent last year, it was clear that the league in general didn’t see him as a franchise QB. We’re talking about an unproven backup who isn’t that young anymore without elite physical tools. And for those reasons, his stock will be severely limited.

      • David J says:

        Flynn is set to receive 5 and 6 million dollars in the next two years respectively, right? Can we expect to see that contract restructured since he’s not starting?

        • He’ll almost for sure be restructured or traded, and I’d put the odds upwards of 75% that he’s traded.

          • Belgaron says:

            I don’t think they move him without a capable replacement in place both for the long term and the short term. It’s too high risk in the NFL not to have a good backup ready to go. If they can’t find one, Flynn may very well get all of that contract payout.

            • Phil says:

              I agree — I just think that having a capable backup is critical, especially with a QB that is called to run the ball. If they are able to find a capable backup, then I’m all in for a trade, but not until then.

      • A. Simmons says:

        I disagree on this one. Maybe market vlaue is a 5th rounder. His value to the Seahawks is a minimum 3rd rounder. I don’t think John Schneider trades for less. He’s a high quality backup at a minimum. He’s not some throwaway bacup. We have very little invested in the QB position and can’t redo Russell’s contract until his third year. If anyone wants Matt, they’re going to have to pay his value. QBs always have higher value than other positions.

        I still believe the league was soft on Flynn because they thought they would have to pay Kolb money. No one was going to pay Kolb money after Kevin Kolb and Cassel proved unproductive and incapable.

        • A. Simmons says:

          Forgot to add one point. I think Flynn losing out to a third round pick won’t be viewed poorly given how well Russell has played. The league now knows that Flynn lost out to what is looking more and more like a once in a franchise history type of QB. I don’t think losing QB competition will affect his offseason value.

        • Rob Staton says:

          John Clayton seems to be indicating this week in his letters page that the situation will likely go like this… Seahawks will see what they can get, if nobody bites they’ll cut him due to the $6.5m salary. I think I remember reading it would cost around $2m to cut him against the cap because all of the guaranteed money was paid in 2012 (signing bonus, salary). There are serviceable backups out there more akin to the playing style of Russell Wilson (eg Josh Johnson). I think one way or another Flynn leaves. And although I’m willing to be proven completely wrong, I still maintain that last year’s ice-cold market was nothing more than a review of the impression that he’s not considered a realistic long-term NFL starter. Any team that trades for Flynn will pay him $6.5m in 2013 which isn’t huge but it’s a lot if you’re kind of mixed on whether he’s the answer. The best he can hope for IMO is a team looking for a go-between, perhaps breaking in a rookie. And even then it’ll be tough to prize out anything more than a late round pick, especially if Flynn being cut is realistic. The value just isn’t there when you consider number of starts, age, salary and physical tools. I’m not optimistic on this one.

          • A. Simmons says:

            I like John Clayton’s stories, but not much for his evaluation of the market. Flynn is a proven high value backup. Due to the CBA, they can’t renegotiate Wilson’s contract until his third year. Pete loves competition at the position. They paid Whitehurst 8 million for two years even when it was very apparent he wasn’t going to even be a serviceable backup.

            What kind of value does a high quality backup have?

            I don’t understand the logic of cutting Flynn. The only way I see them cutting Flynn is if they sign some of their own guys to a contract requiring cap space. The only rookies up for contract renegotiation next year will be Kam Chancellor, Golden Tate, and Earl Thomas. They may be costly, but I don’t know if they will be costly enough to require cutting Flynn.

            Then you have cap space with the contracts of Branch, Jason Jones, Trufant, and McDonald expiring.

            I guess we’ll see. If they really need cap space, they’ll cut Flynn. If we’re pretty flush, I think they’ll keep him at least until his third year as insurance. I don’t think they trade him for less than a 3rd.

            That’s my bet. I guess we’ll see whose closer to the mark in the offseason. Should be interesting to see how Schneider and Pete play it.

  14. SES says:

    Love the blog. Read it daily, checking multiple times a day for updates.
    I finally figured out all of the buttons on my DVR and I’m now able to “brake down film” as I did when coaching / scouting.
    When the Hawks resigned Giacomini in the off season, I rejoiced. Not because I thought he was All Pro material but because he was far and away the best RT Seattle has had in years. Yes he has had his issues, namely untimely penalties, but he makes up for it by his nastiness and his play-to-the-whistle attitude. O line is like a fraternity, a special breed of players, unique to any sport. I believe that Bruno is actually a favorite of Coach Cable. (BTW, would hate to loose Cable)
    IMO the weak link in the line are the middle three. Unger has Pro Bowl ability but struggles w/ the bigger, explosive DTs. Carpenter will do just fine if he can stay healthy (remember Okung’s first two years), Sweezy is raw but has that nasty, “take no prisoners” attitude that every good O line MUST have. More depth certainly, but Hawk fans need not worry.
    Adios for now
    503 Hawk Fan

    • Alex says:

      pretty much sums up my view of the OL.

      • AlaskaHawk says:

        Sums up mine too except I’m not expecting much out of Carpenter. Hopefully he will enter next season healthy and in shape.

        • Alex says:

          Carpenter has been sub par at the RT position, but he was playing the best of anyone at the LG position.

          • AlaskaHawk says:

            He ended up on his butt when Julius Peppers bull rushed him. Not what I like to see in a line men. Give me a full season of decent blocking and I’ll applaud.

            • Remember you’re talking about Julius Peppers, and one incidence. And you’re talking about a guy who tore his ACL in November and rehabbed himself to the point where he could start at LG in September. No lazy, out-of-shape person rehabs from reconstructive knee surgery to the level of NFL athlete in ten months. It’s a real testament to his will and commitment to be able to accomplish that.

            • Belgaron says:

              Yeah, Carp’s wheels were clearly to blame on that, he just came back too soon. But he’s still young and could develop into the spearhead of an unstoppable short yardage run game, like the Seahawks had 03-05. It’s such an incredible advantage for 2-3 yards to be automatic even against the teeth of the opponents goal line defense. Carp could be that kind of guy if he understands the nuances of the system Cable runs. He just needs to come into camp in mid-season form instead of overweight.

            • Rob Staton says:

              Carpenter also left the game after that attempted block and was placed on IR immediately after the game. He was clearly not right in that Chicago game and probably shouldn’t have started. Got to remember this.

  15. Casey says:

    I wonder how free agency will play into our draft. Every year it seems that we’re able to find a player or two to help fill some of our needs.
    I wonder if Randy Starks from Miami would change our draft and whether he is a realistic option. There are some decent WRs in free agency, although not very young, but I’m sure Bowe or Wallace would be weapons that would keep RW busy for a few years.
    Curious what everyone thinks about this years free agency class and how this might shape our draft.

  16. Cysco says:

    Happy Holidays everyone!
    Just staying out of the snow and trying to break out of the food comma. (Snow in Dallas on Christmas day? awesome!)

    I totally agree about the O-line. Heck, over the last 4-5 weeks I’ve often not even remembered who’s starting because you just never hear any of their names called. Okung is a total beast and has finally overcome the fluke injury streak. Carpenter, I’m hoping, is going through the same random streak. You just never know. Unger should make the pro bowl. Sweezy is just so impressive. And, IMO Breno actually helps solidify the identity of this line. The dude is one mean mofo. He’ll play dirty if he needs to. When Russ hits the ground, he’s the first one over there to pick him up. The dude is just intense and I’m really glad he’s on our team. Are the penalties frustrating? Of course, but that can (and likely has) been fixed. Give me the eyebrows at RT for the next 4+years.

    at 3-tech, I would actually prefer trying to solve this in free agency. The position seems to important to try and fill it through the draft. If there’s a viable option you can go out and buy, you do it. That would really free up the FO to do some creative stuff in the draft. If Randy Stark is available, I agree. You go all out to get him. Luckily, for the first time in a long time, Seattle will likely be on many free agent’s short list give this year and the direction the team is going.

    It’s great to be a Hawk’s fan!

    Keep up the great work Rob!

  17. fudwamper says:

    Rob I talked earlier about wanting a dominate RG if it presented itself. I can say that might be premature if Sweazy continues to grow. I hope the hawks can continue to draft late round OL and develop them.

    • Rob Staton says:

      I think that will be the idea. I sense Carroll believes he can coach up specific defensive backs to fit scheme (we’re seeing that) and I think he has similar faith in Tom Cable. And at the root of both Cable and Carroll’s ideology is Alex Gibbs, let’s not forget that. Gibbs always believed he could coach anyone to play offensive line.

      • Belgaron says:

        Sweezy’s has all the intangibles to be a fantastic player. Imo if he added to his brute strength, he could be a pro bowler within a few years. He’s already the quickest OL on the team.

  18. Phil says:

    Rob – Watching the 49er game for a second time has got me thinking about the future. It seems to me that the success that several teams (e.g., Seahawks, Redskins, 49ers)have had in running the read option is going to lead to more teams trying to adopt it. With this in mind, I’m thinking about what this means to future defenses. IMHO, I think it means less importance on getting defensive pressure from your DTs and more importance on getting pressure, or contain, from the edge. I think that the speed with which the read option spreads throughout the league will be slowed by the limited number of QBs who can effectively run it, but I think it’s obvious that the 49ers are going to stay with it and, for the next year or two, the road to the Superbowl for the Seahawks runs through San Francisco. So, even if the read option spreads slowly throughout the league as a whole, future success in the NFC West means success at defending against it.

    With this in mind, I’m finding that my previous support for listing a pass-rushing DT as the #1 need for the Seahawks is diminishing — not going away, just diminishing. I’m interested in your thoughts.