Seahawks back to having a strong offensive line — on the left side

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We may never see another left tackle-left guard combo like Walter Jones and Steve Hutchinson again, but given the Seahawks current gameplan and the strengths of Russell Wilson vs the strengths of Matt Hasselbeck, we may not need to. However, Seattle’s acquisitions of Duane Brown and Luke Joeckel has been a supremely welcome consolation prize, especially given how dire those positions were in 2016.

Brown has replaced Rees Odhiambo, who replaced George Fant, and he’s been even better than I had expected. To be fair, I kind of just expected disappointment. And we nearly got that when Brown missed his second game after being traded to the Seahawks, but in every game he’s started, he’s been as good as any “D.B.” you can think of.

Doug Baldwin.

Drew Bledsoe.

Drew Barrymore.

Dave Barry.

Dave & Busters.

And of course, Danny Bonaduce.

Against the Jaguars this week, facing off against Calais Campbell, Yannick Ngakoue, and Dante Fowler, Jr. (combined 30 sacks), Brown was as stingy as the very ad-blockers you use to browse websites like this one. (My apologies if this site goes out of business in the coming years because of a lack of funds.) Brown allowed just one pressure in the game. Playing two spots over, Justin Britt allowed 0 pressures, which is an ongoing theme for the fourth year player/second year center who Seattle wisely locked up to a contract extension already.

And sandwiched between a left tackle who has been to the Pro Bowl and a center who should be going to the Pro Bowl, Joeckel himself allowed just one pressure — Reminder that Jacksonville also has Marcell Dareus and Malik Jackson pushing piles in the middle of those trenches. Brown, Joeckel, and Britt have some sort of case to be made as one of the top-5 LT-LG-C combos in the league. It might be even better than that, but I have not yet done enough research to confirm just how good that is. (Again, sorry if this website disappears by 2020.)

I do know, as you know, that it is sunshine/nuclear apocalypse from what we’ve seen the Seahawks run out there in the last few years. Unfortunately, there’s still an obvious presence of radiation poisoning on the right side of the line.

Seattle’s offensive line allowed 11 pressures against the Jags, including nine total by Germain Ifedi and Ethan Pocic. There are plenty of valid reasons to explain this:

  • The Jags have an elite defensive line and it would be a lot to ask Ifedi and Pocic to be perfect or near-perfect against Campbell and Ngakoue.
  • Pocic is a rookie and he’s not even a rookie who was playing guard until relatively recently. He allowed one sack and seven hurries against the Jaguars.
  • Ifedi is only in his second season and is being tasked as the weak link of the line, so he’s probably going to get targeted by defenses more often.

However, Ifedi is also the most penalized player in the NFL and he has an outside shot at breaking the record for most flags drawn in a season. It would be one thing if that was all on false starts, but he has eight holding penalties, then drew a stupid taunting penalty in Jacksonville that was very costly. He has a penalty in 10 of 13 games this season. He has 105 yards in penalties.

Pocic has a penalty in five of the last six games. 45 yards of penalties.

Brown had a false start against Washington and a hold against the Falcons. 15 yards of penalties.

Britt has three penalties, one declined, for 20 yards of penalties over 13 games.

Joeckel has three penalties, one declined, for 10 yards of penalties.

Right now, we have to consider that Brown-Joeckel-Britt is better than any center-to-left line we could have possibly imagined for the Seahawks going into the year. Brown, we didn’t know would be traded for or that he could even fit into the budget. Joeckel has proven to be a very good NFL guard, just a bad NFL tackle. And even Britt is playing above expectations, going from fringe Pro Bowl center to fringe All-Pro center. However, we also have to consider that the right side, where Ifedi was probably thought to be the best non-Britt player on the line when we were discussing such things over the summer, is even worse than we imagined.

Ifedi has been very disappointing. The right guard position, which has included Oday Aboushi, Mark Glowinski, and Pocic, is perhaps as poor off as we expected, if not worse; in all honesty, we have to entertain the thought that Pocic might be one of the worst starting right guards in the league right now. (Pocic’s seven pressures allowed in Week 14 was the most of any guard and came on just 35 pass block snaps.) Surely there’s a lot of bright and shiny objects in Pocic’s future, but at the moment we can accept that like many Seattle Seahawks linemen before him, he’s been thrust into a starting role before he’s completely ready for it.

Okay, we can accept that. We thought the Seahawks line has been terrible, but as of now it’s pretty good. There’s a weakness and that could be exploited somewhat by the defensive front of the LA Rams on Sunday, but there’s a lot less to exploit now thanks to the presence of Brown and Joeckel. It’s also reason to expect this line to finally have something else next year that it hasn’t had in awhile:

Continuity.

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