Since the second game of the season, the infamous Seahawks offensive line has looked… good?
Ever since the Seahawks were harassed by Von Miller and Khalil Mack in the first two weeks, the offensive line has looked very good. As a result, the team has been very successful running the football and Russell Wilson does not need to scramble for his life every time he drops back. What is with the sudden change?
It may be just coincidence, but since J.R. Sweezy took over at left guard, the offensive line has been rolling. With Ethan Pocic starting in weeks one and two, the Seahawks averaged 69 rushing yards a game. Since Sweezy took over the position after Pocic went down with an ankle injury, the team has averaged 164 rushing yards a game. While there may be a lurking variable in there somewhere, the change in players is notable to say the least.
The two new faces at the guard position this year have been instrumental in reviving the run game. Although Sweezy is a familiar face, he still spent three years in Tampa Bay before returning to the team this off-season, eventually winning the left guard spot. The right guard is D.J. Fluker, a humongous human being to say the least.
At 6-foot-5 and 340 lbs, Fluker is exactly what Seattle needed. Combine that size with a nasty attitude, and you have a heck of a run blocker. Against Ndamukong Suh last week, Pro Football Focus graded him an 81.3 – impressive to say the least. Fluker at times dominated the Pro Bowl defensive tackle, including these two plays:
The guard position is noticeably different from last season, but the two tackles remained the exact same. Although, one of them has greatly improved.
Former first-round pick Germain Ifedi, who found himself the subject of major criticism (myself included), has been a solid right tackle over the past few weeks. After a disastrous first two seasons where Ifedi found himself struggling in pass protection, the 6-foot-5 tackle is finally seeming to settle into his position. Against the Rams, he graded a solid 76.9 in pass coverage, according to PFF.
The Seahawks offense is much more dynamic when they can run for 150 yards a game. Running the ball effectively leads to openings in the pass game, especially the play action. ESPN reports that Russell Wilson’s passer rating in play action plays is 156.9, which is nearly perfect. It is tops in the league by far, and a testament to the effect a good run game has on the passing game.
The pass protection has been solid as well. The line gave up twelve sacks in the first two games, which is nothing short of abysmal. However in the last three games, the line has only given up six sacks. A few of those are arguably Wilson’s fault for holding the ball too long.
New offensive line coach Mike Solari has evidently done a great job in figuring out how to effectively utilize this offensive line, something Tom Cable struggled to do at the end of his tenure in Seattle.