Let me begin this edition of Conspiracy Corner by clarifying something. In no way am I accusing the players of not doing their best to win football games. Nor am I suggesting that the coaching staff is not doing all it can. I include Pete Carroll in this category in his position as Head Coach. What I am saying is that Executive Vice-President Pete Carroll and General Manager John Schneider did not do all they could to produce a winning football team in 2011.
I made my feelings clear on how I felt about the Seahawks’ 2011 Draft when it went down. For those who are new to this site or did not read those articles, I felt the draft was a disaster. It was at that time that I came to the conclusion that the team’s intention was not to win in 2011, but to build the team for 2012 and beyond. It is a belief I carry to this day.
To prove my point, let’s look at the Seahawks’ offensive line. There has been a major overhaul since the end of the 2010 season. Anyone who has watched the Seahawks over the last few seasons knows that such an overhaul was not only inevitable, but necessary. Two starters, C Chris Spencer and RT Sean Locklear, were allowed to leave via free agency. In fact, the team had restructured Locklear’s contract to hasten his departure. Almost all of the team’s reserve offensive linemen were either released or not re-signed.
The team used its first two selections in the 2011 NFL Draft to select two offensive linemen, James Carpenter in the first round and, after a trade, John Moffitt in the third round. The team made it clear when they drafted them that they planned to start Carpenter at right tackle and Moffitt at right guard this season.
My question is this – When was the last time two rookies started next to each other on a NFL offensive line? It’s not a rhetorical question; I don’t know the answer. I would guess that it’s been decades, perhaps going back to the Seahawks’ inaugural season. (Note: I know that the San Francisco 49ers started two rookies on their offensive line last season, but they were not next to each other. Mike Iupati started at left guard and Anthony Davis started at right tackle.) In other words, it is by no means a common practice in the NFL.
The reason that is so is because there is a lot of information a rookie offensive lineman must process. That is why most rookies are placed next to veteran linemen who can cover the rookie’s mistakes and help him learn how to play. Carpenter has no one to back him up; Moffitt is as inexperienced as Carpenter is. Moffitt is flanked by Carpenter and C Max Unger, who is basically a second year player. Even though they signed veteran LG Robert Gallery to help, the Seahawks’ offensive line may be one of the most inexperienced in NFL history.
So why didn’t the Seahawks sign another veteran offensive lineman who could help the rookies and, if necessary, start? Carpenter and Moffitt have basically been thrown into the deep end of the pool. The main reserve offensive linemen are Paul McQuistan and Breno Giacomini, neither of whom would be in the NFL if they weren’t Seahawks.
I maintain that having the two rookies gain experience playing next to each other, no matter how overwhelmed either might be, is more important to Seahawks’ management than having an offensive line that can be more effective RIGHT NOW. If the current unit can stay healthy and remain intact for the rest of this season, marked improvement should be expected next season.
As a pragmatist, I understand the team’s intentions and motivations. The chances of success for 2011 were questionable. If the team performs as poorly as I expect them to, they’ll be able to draft their franchise quarterback in the next draft and have him play behind a young offensive line that has had a full year playing together as a unit. As a fan that has to watch this year’s team play, I am not thrilled at all.