For the past two and a half seasons, we have grown accustomed to a few things while watching the Seattle Seahawks. A stifling defense. A productive running game. And… a leaky offensive line.
Russell Wilson has been sacked fifteen times this season, tied for eleventh best in the NFL. Sounds pretty good, right? Until you factor in the fewest number of attempts in the league, and according to teamrankings.com, he is sacked on 6.73% of pass attempts, 21st in the NFL. 2013- 9.92%, last in the NFL. 2012- 7.89%, 26th in the NFL. You get the picture.
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This begs a simple question. Why?
It comes down to two culprits, both of whom are fan favorites. John Schneider and Tom Cable. Who’s really to blame?
John Schneider, the General Manager of the Seahawks, has done a fantastic job of stocking the team with talent. In fact, according to most analysts, they possess one of, if not the deepest team in the league. He has plucked gems out of later rounds and through the undrafted process. Richard Sherman was taken in the 5th round of the 2011 draft. Since being selected he has made a case to be recognized as the best corner in the league. Kam Chancellor was selected in the 5th round of the 2010 draft. Now, he sets the tone for an aggressive defense that thrives off of his physicality. The list goes on. K.J. Wright. Byron Maxwell. Doug Baldwin. Jermaine Kearse. In fact, it’s a tragedy he hasn’t won the NFL’s Executive of the year.
For all of that brilliance, the offensive line has never been solid. Since the 2011 draft, Schneider has devoted seven draft picks to offensive linemen. James Carpenter, the only 1st rounder of the group, has been underwhelming to say the least. So much so that the team declined his fifth year option, making him a free agent after this year. John Moffitt, a 3rd rounder from 2011, no longer plays in the league. He may be more famous for his, err… extra-curricular activities than his actual football skills.
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Jared Smith is currently looking for work as we speak. Michael Bowie came in to camp out of shape this year, got injured, and was subsequently waived. Garret Scott had an unfortunate heart issue that prematurely ended his playing career. Justin Britt is a rookie this season, and although he has struggled at times, he shows promise. That brings us to J.R. Sweezy, the 7th rounder taken in the 2012 draft, who came in as a college defensive linemen. He has probably been the best pick of the group. But that begs another question. Was this defensive player a quality talent, or was he molded into one?
That molding process falls to one Tom Cable, the offensive line coach and assistant head coach for the Seahawks. A master of the zone blocking system, he is universally recognized as one of the best line coaches in the NFL. This is the thing though. Since we as fans have no insight into practice or coaching techniques, we are forced to take someone else’s word for it. And though I certainly want to believe it, I’m beginning to wonder.
It’s easy to point at the list above and say, “Schneider has picked some awful offensive linemen.” Has he? Or has Cable been unable to get the most out of these player’s talents.
The answer is elusive, but someone is to blame. Maybe it’s as simple as a combination of both of them. It probably is, which could be scary, because both of them should be here for a while.
While we have the most important facet to an NFL team, the franchise quarterback, another question springs to mind.
How long will he be healthy if he continues to take this abuse?