Seahawks report cards for every offensive lineman
By Lee Vowell
The Seahawks exceeded expectations in lots of ways this year. But none might have been as important as how well the offensive line played.
The Seahawks promised fans that they would get back to a run-heavier offense in 2018. Seattle needed to do this and do it well to save Russell Wilson for being the sole source of offense and not force a young defense to be on the field for most of the game.
Two weeks into the season, though, with Brian Schottenheimer calling pass play after pass play and running back Chris Carson only getting 15 carries combined, it seemed that Seattle had misled 12s. This looked like the same offense as in the previous three seasons.
But in week three massive human being/guard D.J. Fluker came back after missing the first two games of the year with injury. Combine Fluker and more run plays being called and Seattle fulfilled its promise of running the ball a lot. And they rushed the ball so well, they finished first in the NFL in rushing.
Some of this, of course, is due to Carson, Mike Davis and Rashaad Penny being able to generate yards after first contact. But the offensive line has got a push on third-and-short situations that they simply didn’t get in the last several years. The line was better.
What was really surprising was that even with road-graders like Fluker, the line was just as good in pass-blocking efficiency, ranking 17th in the league. Maybe this isn’t elite, but it is leagues better than Seattle has been in a long time.
Here are the grades for each starting lineman for the Seahawks in 2018.
Duane Brown, left tackle
Brown graded out as the fourth-best left tackle in the NFL this season. Since coming to Seattle midway through 2017, Brown has made the line better and been a teacher to younger linemen like Germain Ifedi. Brown makes the Seahawks a much better team. He allowed just four sacks all season and was called for one penalty.
J.R. Sweezy, left guard
Sweezy started 15 games for Seattle, though he was banged up at the end of the season. Sweezy was a upgrade over Ethan Pocic, though, and provided good protection for Wilson. The odd thing is that Sweezy wasn’t great in run blocking. He graded near the bottom of the NFL in that last category, according to PFF. Sweezy also tied for the second-most holding penalties (6) in the league.
Justin Britt, center
Britt wasn’t as good as his 2016 season and that may always be his best year. In fact, 2018 may have been Britt’s worst year. Still, he allowed no sacks and was called for just three penalties. He was just inconsistent with opening holes in the middle as Seattle ran left many times behind Brown and not behind Britt.
D.J. Fluker, right guard
Fluker’s grade is a bit different. He has had health issues the last few years and he did miss six games in 2018, too. Fluker was also called for eight penalties, second-most of NFL guards. But he allowed just a half sack. More importantly, he brought a bully mentality that Seattle absolutely needed. Fluker wasn’t great but he improved the line.
Geramin Ifedi, right tackle
Ifedi wasn’t the awfulness he was in 2017. He seemed to take to Mike Solari’s coaching much better than former line coach Tom Cable’s (lack of) teaching. Ifedi wasn’t a Pro Bowl-type player either, but after getting 16 penalties called on him in 2017 he dropped that number to 10. Six of those were false starts instead of drive-killing holds. Ifedi was improved and now he just needs to improve some more.
Grade: C (after an F in 2017)