Hawks Playbook Podcast Episode 64  First Look at the Offensive Line

Welcome to the Hawks Playbook Podcast. Each week, Keith Myers and Bill Alvstad deliver a new, one hour plus show of original content covering your favorite team, The Seattle Seahawks. We keep it going 52 weeks out of the year because we love football and of course The Hawks. Producing content in the off-season can be challenging, but it actually gives us time to take a deeper dive into the team and players that we just simply can’t do when we are in season.  And with that, we are smack dab in the middle of our 7-part series of shows that take a deeper look into each position group, plus a coach’s show at the end of the series to tie it all together.  This week, it’s one of Keith’s favorite groups: The Offensive Line.

Featured Segment: First Look at the Offensive Line

Expect things to look and feel different (in a good way) compared to the years with Tom Cable at the helm. Mike Solari, by all accounts is a no nonsense straight forward coach who will simplify the scheme and put his players in the best position to find success in his first year here in Seattle. Mike still incorporates zone blocking tendencies in his scheme, but also has a focus on the power blocking scheme on the inside with the guards. He likes big road grader types at guard and the more athletic and agile players at the tackle position.

That would suggest Solari could move Germain Ifedi back to guard. Ifedi spent 2017 flailing and often failing at right tackle as the league’s most penalized player. The Seahawks’ top draft choice in 2016 played right guard as a rookie. Though Ifedi also struggled then, he wasn’t nearly the liability he often was this past season while slow to get out on the league’s fastest, best edge pass rushers.

Solari could also move 2017 rookie guard Ethan Pocic and his 6-foot-6 athleticism and versatility to tackle. Lack of strength was one of Pocic’s issues inside at guard this past season. Although, it has been reported that Pocic has added 20 pounds to that frame, suggesting, he might stay on the inside for Solari.

Seattle has finished 25th and 23rd in rushing in the last two seasons. The run game in 2017 would have been 32nd, dead last, in the NFL if not for the 440 yards quarterback and team rushing leader Russell Wilson gained scrambling away from defenders on called pass plays.

Here are some of the NFL rankings in rushing offense Solari’s teams have had since 1997, when he became the offensive line coach of the Kansas City Chiefs and then the 49ers: fifth, fourth, sixth, third, fifth, fourth, ninth, eighth, fourth, third and fourth.

Those last three top-five rushing finishes came from 2012-14 with San Francisco, under Jim Harbaugh. It included the 49ers’ run to the Super Bowl and to the NFC championship loss at Seattle at the end of the ‘12 and ‘13 seasons.

Of the nine offenses Schottenheimer has coordinated, three have finished in the NFL’s top 10 in rushing for a season. Two have finished in the top five, in 2009 and ‘10. His New York Jets played in the AFC championship game each of those seasons, behind Thomas Jones’ 1,400 yards rushing in 2009 and LaDainian Tomlinson’s 914 yards with Shonn Greene’s 766 a year later. Schottenheimer’s offense ran it a whopping 607 times in 2009. The only other NFL team in the last 31 years to run the ball 600 times in a season is the 2004 Pittsburgh Steelers (618 rushes).

Carroll would take any of those Solari and Schottenheimer top-10 rushing finishes again for his Seahawks, who ran just 409 times this past season. That was the 12th-fewest rushes in the NFL–and again, many of those were Wilson’s scrambles on pass plays.

“We have a real formula of how we win. And we have been unable the last two years to incorporate a major aspect of that–and it’s running the football the way we want to run it,” Carroll said two weeks ago. “I think you see tremendous examples around the league of teams who have turned their fortunes around, and they have turned it around in a formula that I think should sound familiar to you: running the football, teams playing good defense and doing the kicking-game thing. That is the formula that has proven historically the best in this game.

“We have been committed to that from the start. But, unfortunately, we have not been able to recapture it the way that we have in years past.”

When the Seahawks drafted Rashaad Penny in the first round of the 2018 Draft, it solidified the core values that Carroll intends to commit to this season. Getting back to basics. Run the football and score touchdowns in the RedZone. An efficient passing game to control the clock and still stretch the field, and a run stopping defense with solid cornerback play on the back end. And if all of that fails, we drafted the best punter in years to flip the field on you. Sounds like a winning formula to me!

Go Hawks!!