Today, we will go into depth about the offensive line for the upcoming 2012 season, which we are all extremely excited for.
In 2010 when Peter Carroll came in, the Seahawks O-Line had to adjust to his zone-blocking scheme. This meaning that instead of the lineman blocking who lines up in front of them, they block who ever comes into their zone which is determined by the called play.
This scheme solves the problem when the defense brings an extra defender in the box (8 players),
which the traditional angle-blocking scheme struggles with. In the zone- blocking scheme, the offensive line defines the player that is farthest away from where the running play is planned to go and they will not block him. This scheme was brought into the NFL by Alex Gibbs when he was an offensive line coach for the Denver Broncos from 1995-2003. The success of this scheme is evident with all of those 1,000 yard rushers the Broncos had back in the day (Terrell Davis, Olandis Gary, Mike Anderson, and Clinton Portis). An easy way to figure out the scheme the Seahawks, or the team you love or watching, is to watch the guard, if he stays put it is an zone-blocking scheme, and if he pulls they are angle-blocking, which is something we will get into on a later date.
In the last 4 years there has been 32 different offensive line combinations, 7 last year, which has made the transition to Carroll’s scheme very difficult. This difficulty left them to finish 20th, 23rd, 16th, and 19th in sacks allowed (50 allowed last year). The Seahawks have noticed this horrible trend, and have addressed it by selecting 2 offensive linemen in the first round in 2010 and 2011. Also acquiring a former head coach of the Oakland Raiders, Tom Cable to take over as the O-Line coach.
Coming into the 2011 season the Seahawks had only 27 career starts on the line, which was the lowest in NFL history since the Carolina Panthers 27 starts in their first season in the league. In the first 7 games the line gave up 28 sacks, so the coaches noticed this and noticed they had to switch to a more run oriented offense, which they did. In the final 9 games the line anchored the run game that averaged 135 yards per game, and 4.1 yards per rush.
The improvement in the final 9 games was really thanks to one of those 1st round draft picks, Russell Okung, who improved before he was injured in week 13. Okung is one of the best left tackles in the game and will come back this season to be a huge contributor to the team. 2011 first round draft pick, right tackle James Carpenter did not play up to his hype, as he seemed overwhelmed, most evident during his pass protection. Nothing could be done to really helping him except putting a tight end next to him, especially with his fellow rookie John Moffitt next to him at right guard. Moffitt had trouble adjusting to the NFL, especially the speed. Both of these guys were sidelined for the final 7 games with knee injuries, leaving questions if Carpenter will be able to start the season healthy and not on the PUP list. When both of these guys come back healthy you should see steady improvement and will hold down the right side of the line much better then they did last year. Breno Giacomini filled in incredibly well when Carpenter went down, and won’t be a terrible option to start the season off with at right tackle if Carpenter can’t go. If Carpenter is ready to go, Giacomini will be a great player to add to the depth of the line. Robert Gallery, the former #2 pick, started 12 games last year at left guard (had a season ending injury in week 13), was picked up by the New England Patriots, and will not be back. Paul McQuistan, who had 10 starts last year at left tackle and both guards, will be the replacement at left guard. He is a decent player, and is a definite question mark and one person to keep an eye on. Max Unger who held down the center position last year, will only improve with the offseason and will start there again. Free Agent acquisition Deuce Lutui adds depth, as a back-up OG, who has experience in the league, will be a viable option if someone goes down.
This line is one of the lower-tier of the NFL o-lines, and will go through growing pains once again this year. The reality is that they only had their line for half of the year last year, which does not translate well in experience. I expect the 110 rushing yards per game to maybe move up 5-10 yards but nothing more, and the 50 sacks allowed should go down. But overall this is not a great line, and a definite question mark on this team.
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Read the overview on the QB situation here: http://getrealfootball.com/2012/06/27/tarvaris-jackson-named-starter-going-into-camp-but-who-will-it-be-going-out-of-camp/