A closer look at the offensive line moving forwards
With the addition of Duane Brown on Monday evening, the Seahawks have sparked new hope that we will once again get to see a legitimate NFL-calibre offensive-line, something that has been missing for 3+ years.
Looking ahead to 2018, I am going on the assumption that the line looks as follows –
LT – Duane Brown
LG – Luke Joeckel
C – Justin Britt
RG – Ethan Pocic
RT – Germain Ifedi
Now, that line assumes several things.
Firstly, that the team extends Joeckel who was only on a one year deal worth $7.25 million. Obviously Joeckel is currently out following knee surgery during the week 6 bye so don’t expect an extension imminently, however if he can come back healthy, the medical team OK his knee of future problems and he plays at an acceptable level, I’d expect to see him get an extension for 3 years for something in the region of $6-8 million average per year (APY).
Secondly, Pocic would need to gain some weight to be able to play permanently on the right-hand side. This is far from a concern considering he is a professional athlete with a world of strength and conditioning coaches available. These guys can fine-tune their bodies to exactly where they need to be.
That would give the Seahawks line (according to draft selections) a 1st-1st-2nd-2nd-1st line. There would be no arguments that Tom Cable can’t turn dog food into Michelin star quality food then. That’s legitimate draft capital invested in the line. It just so happens that it wasn’t the Seahawks that invested that capital at two positions.
This season, the line has only given up 16 sacks through 7 games, tied for 13th in the NFL, that’s perfectly respectable. They have given up 56 QB hits however, the 5th most in the league behind only the 49ers, Colts, Cardinals and Browns. This is proof that the line isn’t league average yet, it’s just Russell Wilson is damn good at making them serviceable.
When looking at Adjusted Line Yards, which takes all running back carries and assigns responsibility to the offensive line based on set percentages (below)
Losses: 120% value
0-4 yards: 100% value
5-10 yards: 50% value
11+ yards: 0% value
the Seahawks are ranked 25th overall, further proof the run-game is in serious disarray. That includes 25% of all runs stuffed at the line and an average of 3.52 yards per run. Pete Carroll said in his Monday press conference that they need to address the running game, no doubt adding Duane Brown will enable the team to run outside zones more often, with added success. Seattle is currently only running to the left on 26% of plays, with 48% coming in between the guards and the remaining 26% going to the right side. Expect to take some plays from the middle and moving them to the left side starting immediately.
It would be unfair to put all the blame on the offensive line, though. Since Chris Carson went down neither Eddie Lacy nor Thomas Rawls have shown much promise, Lacy looks slow and is unable to get into his second gear before taking contact and Rawls is looking far too impatient to let the run develop, find a gap and go. In week 5 he had the perfect opportunity to take it to the house, he had a lineman about to make a block on the final defender to allow him to run untouched into the endzone, instead, he ran straight at the safety and went down by contact. Patience and football smarts are key traits of a successful running back in this league.
In summary, there is no doubt that the Seahawks have manufactured a constant improvement week-to-week so there is every reason for optimism. Adding Duane Brown to LT just knocks that improvement up several notches. I guarantee we will see an improvement in the running game as the team will be able to add new schemes into the play calling. I see Duane Brown as the final piece of the puzzle.
Follow us on Twitter for further updates, @HawkTalkBlog