Some thoughts on the George Fant injury

George Fant’s injury is, as Pete Carroll put it, ‘heartbreaking’.

His rise from undrafted free agent/basketball player to starting left tackle was meteoric. His occasional struggles last year were predictable and his improved play in the first two pre-season games of 2017 was encouraging.

Early in the game against Minnesota he handled $58m pass rusher Everson Griffen not once but twice:

He’s in control. His footwork compliments his power at the point of attack and he’s balanced.

He looks like a starting left tackle.

The Seahawks haven’t had much luck with injuries over the last twelve months. A year ago Seattle’s season derailed in week one with Russell Wilson’s ankle problem. By the end of the year Kam Chancellor and Michael Bennett had missed significant time while Earl Thomas and Tyler Lockett suffered broken legs.

And there’s the laundry list of injuries at running back.

Before the 2017 season has even kicked off the Seahawks are without their starting left tackle due to an ACL injury and their first pick in the draft, Malik McDowell, is out indefinitely.

It’s also troubling to see Thomas Rawls and C.J. Prosise picking up minor niggles again.

Hopefully this isn’t a sign of things to come.

Naturally there’s an air of despondency among Seahawks fans. Fant was starting to look really good. He’d been anointed the starter. Things were settled on the left side of the O-line.

However, some perspective is required before the trade demands spread like wildfire and panic sets in.

For starters, while losing Fant is a blow, this isn’t an injury to Earl Thomas or Russell Wilson. Seattle has two players on the roster with experience at left tackle (Luke Joeckel and Rees Odhiambo) and they have depth at guard.

Joeckel might not have the athletic upside of Fant but he was a former #2 overall pick as a left tackle. Odhiambo was also highly thought of when Seattle spent a coveted third round pick on him a year ago.

When Seattle won the Super Bowl in 2013 they had Paul McQuistan as their starting left tackle for eight games. It didn’t derail the season and McQuistan, as serviceable as he was, probably isn’t a better left tackle than Joeckel.

If they want to add an outsider, Branden Albert is the name that stands out. He was recently released by Jacksonville after retiring and un-retiring in a short space of time. Is he likely to move to Seattle on a minimum contract? It’s not improbable but he’d have to value competing over money.

It’s also unclear whether the Seahawks would want to go with a street free agent and struggle through growing pains when they have options on the roster already.

‘Next man up’ is probably the answer. After all, if there is any flexibility to make a tweak or two to the roster, are you not better off bringing in the much talked about extra D-liner and trusting Joeckel and Odhiambo to hold down the left side?

At least Odhiambo is getting plenty of snaps. Against the Chargers he saw 90% of the plays — 30% more than anyone else. He again led the offense versus Minnesota with 67% of the snaps (Ethan Pocic was second with 54%).

It’s a crying shame for George Fant and hopefully he can make the kind of miraculous, inspiring comeback we’ve seen from Jimmy Graham, Earl Thomas and Tyler Lockett over the last 18 months.

The experience of those three players in particular will be a useful resource and Fant won’t be short of support. The Seahawks appeared as connected as ever during the Minnesota game.

The positives for me were Naz Jones and Marcus Smith. Seattle needs D-line and pass rush depth. Jones was a beast throughout, creating pressure and showing a relentless attitude. Smith had three QB hurries and looked like a former first round pick with a role to play.

It was also encouraging to see the tight ends involved, Mike Davis had a nice cameo at running back and of course Kasen Williams had a stunning pair of catches in the first quarter.

It’d also be unfair not to mention the form of Russell Wilson and Doug Baldwin. Wilson looks incredibly sharp and Baldwin appears ready to further enhance his ever growing reputation. It was also fun to see him get in Chris Carson’s face after he checked out of the game in the second quarter. Moments later, Mike Davis scored a touchdown on a checkdown by Wilson. It was a little reminder by Baldwin that the ‘Always Compete’ mantra doesn’t take a play off.

The Seahawks look strong after two pre-season games. The key is to avoid further injuries and find a way to add another impact defensive lineman to the rotation.

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  1. Seahawcrates

    I was also encouraged by the special teams play. Coverage was swarming and both Kasen Williams and Chris Carson made big plays there.
    The Seahawk reserves on defense have choked out the reserve offenses they have played against for two straight games now. All this speaks to deprh, more noticeably on the defensive side.
    I agree with your observation of Smith. I think he makes the roster. Bass also popped a number of times in the first two games.

    • Volume12

      Coverage wise yes. Protection wise? They got a lot to clean up on teams.

  2. Aaron

    Thank you Rob for your honest, yet reasonable take on the Fant injury. I’m confident the team will deal with this situation. I still hope they bring in another T/G either now or after the cut to 53. Here’s my o line depth chart week 1…

    LT: Joeckel, Odhiambo
    LG: Odhiambo, Glowinski, Roos
    C: Britt, Pocic
    RG: Aboushi, Pocic, Glowinski
    RT: Ifedi, Pocic, Aboushi

    Like you said Rob, in 2013 we went through multiple games where Okung, Unger, and Breno were out. We replaced them with journeymen and undrafted guys. I don’t understand the panic over the Fant injury. We’ve weathered much worse than losing a second year left tackle who was a college basketball player and the worst left tackle in the NFL last season. Everything we want is still in front of us. Go Hawks!!!

  3. Volume12

    Who’s panicking? Seahawks twitter? It sucks to lose Fant. Big time. But by no means did this guy scream ‘the answer’ at LT.

    It’d be nice if Ifedi played with that aggressiveness he shows in TC during an actual game.

    A healthy RW is more important than anything, and man does he look crisp.

    S Delano Hill flashed quite a few times for me with some big hits.

    CB Shaq Griffin continues to impress me. He does not play like a rookie. Could care less if he gives up curls, comebacks, or little slants. Its how he responds on the next play. And his mentality blows me away. Maturity beyind his years. The kid gives up nothing deep. Nothing. He’s gonna get picked on, and his resiliency and patience is very encouraging.

    RB Mike Davis is the 5th RB depth wise in this team and in all actuality should be a #2 for the majority of teams in the league. Loving the depth at RB this year.

    • C-Dog

      I thought Griffin showcased a lot of grit in that came the way they kept coming after him. Love what I’m seeing out of a bunch of these rooks.

    • peter

      I’m all for teams to continue to pick on Griffin. All that work is going to turn into picks and dude has explosive speed. That guy might be my favorite pick of the draft. Hopefully the Goff’s of the world think he’s the easy mark throughout the season.

    • GeoffU

      With Sherm on the other side, you need a corner that can put up with being picked on. Attitude is a big deal there, though of course it helps to have the talent too. He seems to have both, just needs experience.

  4. cha

    The bright side of the Fant injury is it feels like the Hawks built redundancy into their OL more than ever. Joekel and Odhiambo can play LG and LT. Roos is a prospect who can fill in on spot duty. Glowinski can play LG if needed. Pocic can play multiple positions. Ifedi has NFL RG experience and should play RT this year.

    Even with losing Fant there is good depth on the roster.

  5. cha

    Does anyone happen to have a clip of Baldwin getting after Carson? I will watch the rebroadcast tonight because I missed the game last night.

    • HawkTalker#1

      I’d sure like to see that too.

      • Seatown

        I taped the game and re watched it. Honestly it really doesn’t look like Doug getting on him. The clip on NFL network is like 3 seconds. Just looks like Carson heading to the side line and Baldwin comes up to him but it’s so fast it’s hard to tell if he was just congratulating him or getting on him. Didn’t look like anything from what I saw.

        • Rob Staton

          He was getting after him — 100%.

          In an interview two weeks ago Baldwin was asked about a similar moment during training camp. Sheil Kapadia asked Baldwin about running onto the field to congratulate Carson after a big play. Baldwin immediately corrected Sheil, stating he was running onto the field to let him know you don’t check out as a rookie. You’ve got to compete. This was the exact same situation. Carson made a couple of plays and then signalled to the sideline. Baldwin was on him in a flash.

          It’s not a negative thing. It’s good that the veterans are letting the rookies know what is expected of them. And quite frankly, I too was a bit disappointed to see Carson wanting a breather after a couple of decent plays.

          • peter

            I honestly think Baldwin does that stuff because he sees Carson’s potential and knows if he can step up the conditioning he could make a greater impact on this team. Baldwin strikes me as a supportive guy but in the mold of being harder on players he wants more out.

            • Rob Staton

              Agree completely

  6. Fresno Brad

    Never count John Schneider out! New rule this year allows teams to keep 90 players till final day of cuts = lots of trading! We have extra DE, CB, TE, WR, & RB! We can cut Kearse save 2.2 million & trade Lacy get back 1.5 million. A team desperate for WR & little cap space could ask us to trade Kearse & eat cap space & we get??? We could trade Lacy = they get a RB for 1.5 mil. Trade Jeremy Lane, Neiko Thorpe! We do have time & solid equity to trade for a young, inexperienced LT. Last year we started a guy who never played the position maybe our new LT Darrell Brown gets it together.

  7. Jeff

    I don’t think the people who are saying “Hey we should be looking at Brandon Albert” are panicking. I think it is more of a lets do see if we can decrease the impact of the injury.

    No matter what happens i do feel this is going to be a better offensive line than last year, and the WR and RB group look like they will be better and deeper also.

    It also looks like Seattle is going to be making RBs a bigger part of the passing game to utilize the athleticism of Rawls, Procise and Carson, to get them more opportunities to make plays in space and provide quick easy passes for Wilson.

    It is going to be a really interesting next 3 weeks. Some real tough decisions to make at WR and RB. None of the RB look particularly bad to me. Even Collins who is buried on the depth chart looks solid. He made a mistake with the fumble, but he responded by closing out the game, showing the type of resilience and error correction you want to see.

    At WR you have Baldwin, Kearse, Lockett, PRich, Darbough, Kasen Williams, and McEvoy. That is 7 players, and you would like to keep them all.

    It will be really Interesting to see if Seattle uses some of its depth at WR, RB, and DB to make a trade for an impact player. Considering the depth at those positions, Lane, Kearse, and Lacy are all expendable trade pieces. You likely wouldn’t cut any of them, but you might look at trading them to bring in an impact player along the DL. Kearse Will be a tough sell, as no one really even considered him in FA, and Lacy might also be a tough sell considering his weight, and the preseason play is nothing to rave about.

  8. C-Dog

    Objectively, it’s going to be interesting how they move forward this week. If you would ask me at 10AM this morning, I would have said Joekel is the left tackle, but eight hours later, now I’m wondering if they don’t keep him at LG where Tom Cable thinks he’s capable of being one of the best in the league, and they work this week to get Rees Odhiambo ready to be the starter. I thought there were times in the game where he looked good, especially moving during his run blocks. Maybe the settling effect Joekel had with Fant, he will have with Odhiambo as they stat working together. Maybe they look to work Pocic a bit at LT, as well. Or they just shift Joekel over. Re watching Carroll’s post game press conference, he wasn’t all together dismissive about Odhiambo, just said that they need to see more consistency, and that they are lucky to have Joekel who can play LG and LT.

  9. Smitty1547

    You saw something I didn’t see, I thought Rees looked terrible! However as they say it will be easy to improve from there.

    • C-Dog

      I think that’s the instant reaction a big bulk of fans will have, especially given he gave up the immediate pressure subbing in, but as I was watching him pretty intently the rest of the way, I saw plus things. I saw him move guys on run plays and play action. I thought his pass pro got better. IMO, I think it’s an overreaction to say that he was terrible, but it’s understandable considering that fans have been enduring shaky OL play for the last few years. I think Pete’s assessment of “up and down” play is pretty accurate. Last week against the Chargers Odhiambo played well. This week? He kinda looked like a young player who might not have expected to be immediately subbing in at LT and struggled initially.

    • Rob Staton

      He didn’t play well vs Minnesota. But ultimately, he has experience at left tackle and might grow into the job. It’s probably him or Joeckel.

  10. Smitty1547

    Looks like Michael Bowie can be had cheap as he looks to soon be the winner of some DV charges coming his way.

  11. millhouse-serbia

    What did Marcus Smith play? DE, SAM , LEO?

    • C-Dog

      Leo I think exclusively

    • Rob Staton

      Looked like EDGE/LEO to me.

  12. Vista

    On a side note, at least our defense isnt as bad as Indy’s

    • Rob Staton

      Yeah, I saw the first team defense for Indy vs Dallas too. Not good.

      Arizona’s run defense was poor too.

      And San Francisco… ouch.

  13. House

    I don’t know if signing a OL off the street is the best move right now. I know last night Brandon Albert’s name was immediately mentioned and I personally believe Odhiambo or Joeckel will be our LT.

    I was extremely impressed with Jones and Smith abilities to get into the backfield.

  14. Robert Las Vegas

    Hi Rob I was wondering what you think about this idea of the seahawks going to a two tight end formations and having Nick Vannett lining up on the line of scrimmage next to left tackle help blocking even on passing downs. I think I maybe Zach Miller use to. Now Vannett is no Zach Miller is he available option

    • Rob Staton

      I think it’s a good suggestion. I’d like to see two TE sets.

  15. Rowdy

    If I remember correctly, when carson went off the field he look like something was wrong like he had the wind knocked out of him.

    • Rob Staton

      He was coming off for a breather. Baldwin knew the situation.

  16. Rowdy

    The top of people’s wish list this year was a pass rushing DT and improved online. Both positions have taking major hits but I believe were still better then last year at both spots. Watching Wilson last year being injured and this preseason healthy is night and day. The way he can control the dlinemen on the move will help the oline more then fant will

    • C-Dog

      Right on. Loosing the promising talents of Fant and McDowell is really rough stuff , but I think the lines on both sides of the ball are improved with the other new additions. Hopefully they will settle LT this week. The key to the season still comes down to a healthy RW, and thus far, he looks like he’s ready to have a big year.

    • lil'stink

      I wonder if Naz Jones doesn’t provide more interior pass rush then we thought he would when we drafted him. He might not be explosive but he seems relentless and I wonder if he doesn’t become what we hoped Jordan Hill would be.

      • Rob Staton

        He’s the most exciting player from the rookie class at the moment, that’s for sure.

        • C-Dog


  17. CharlieTheUnicorn

    Praise the football gods, Seattle has some depth on OL this year.

    • All I see is 12s

      Agreed. Sucks we have to tap into it already, but even if it’s Reese, aboushie and pocic, that’s a a 3rd, 4th and 2nd on the bench…

  18. D-OZ

    Rees looked better after he settled in….

  19. CHawk Talker Eric

    Anyone else see Rod Smith tear it up for DAL yesterday? Dayum!

    Also watched LAR vs OAK. Rams are NOT a pushover this season. Their D isn’t the same without Donald, and their secondary is still porous. But their first team offense moved the ball easily against a decent Raiders D.

    Goff looks much improved – 16 of 20 for 160yds and 1 TD. Rookie WRs Cooper Kupp and Josh Reynolds impressed me. Kupp caught 6 for 70 yds and 1 TD; Reynolds caught just one pass, but it was the game winning TD. Gurley ran well – 8 carries for 38 yds (nearly 5ypc) and a TD.

    • Sea Mode

      Dang I wanted us to draft Reynolds. Hope Darboh turns out for us.

  20. HAWK1976

    Baldwin was definitely reminding Carson to compete and not come out of the game in that instance you refer to Rob. Baldwin, in an interview earlier in the week when asked about Carson by the local media regarding which one of the rookies he sees as being a contributor said, “I’m most impressed with Carson out of all the rookies because he has all the tools and looks the most polished and ready to be a contributor right now.” Baldwin, as only Angry Doug (I say that as term of endearment) can do in practice, was reminding him of their high standard and mantra “Always Compete”. He was telling him the same thing in the game. I believe Doug feels this kid is special, but he has to battle all the time (especially being a 7th round pick). I love that leadership and mentality from Doug and he never ceases to amaze with his growth and maturity as a player and individual both on and off the field.

    As for LT, I’m just happy & thankful there are options on the squad other than Sowell. Nice guy, but lacking as a Olineman.

  21. HawkFan907

    Tyrus Thompson has signed on to be some LT depth. Good size and athleticism but terrible technique. Formerly with the Panthers and out of Oklahoma in college.

  22. John

    Are there any clips showing all of Smith’s snaps? I only noticed once when he made a tackle for loss. In general I thought that the pass rush was pretty average….

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