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Pistol is here to stay, Seahawks center Unger says

By Brent Stecker

The Seahawks have spent their offseason mainly concentrating on adding to positions other than the middle of their offensive line, and that’s for good reason – they have 26-year-old All-Pro center Max Unger locked up to lead the line for another four years.

Seahawks center Max Unger, a Hawaii native, played in his first Pro Bowl in his home state in January. (AP)

And Unger’s not the only thing that’s sticking around. The Oregon alum joined 710 ESPN Seattle’s “The John Clayton Show” Saturday, and he spoke about the longevity of the pistol formation, which has become popular among teams running the read-option, including the Seahawks.

“I really do think (the pistol) is going to stay. We’ve got the quarterbacks that can do it now,” said Unger, a Hawaii native who played in his first Pro Bowl in his home state in January. “We had a lot of success with it last year, there’s no question. You can run every play that you have in your playbook out of the pistol. … The pistol’s neat because you can do a bunch of stuff with it. We did a little bit of it last year. I definitely see that package expanding. It’s exciting, and I know it fits right into our zone-blocking system – the rules are all the same.”

Unger was happy to see the Seahawks add read-option packages for quarterback Russell Wilson to run in 2012, as it’s a system he knows well from his days as a Duck.

“It was pretty cool just being in a system that you’re pretty familiar with, just being able to kind of carry over a lot of stuff you’ve learned and spent so many years doing,” he said. “When we expand on that package it will be interesting to see where we go with it. It’s fluid – it became my play for four years in college so it’s pretty fun to mix that stuff in there.”

The read-option wasn’t the only thing Wilson’s breakout season gifted to Unger; he said the offensive line and its coach, Tom Cable, were afforded the opportunity to get more involved with the playbook after Wilson emerged as the Seahawks’ quarterback of the present and future.

“This last year we really got in the playbook and kinda figured out what everybody was doing; not just the O-line (but) everybody – tight ends, fullbacks, wide receivers. When we did that it kinda really broadened our horizons,” he said.

Unger has come up with several other Seahawks linemen, including left tackle and fellow Pro Bowler Russell Okung, and the line’s improving chemistry has coincided with the Seahawks’ rise to the NFL’s upper echelon in recent seasons.

“I think we have a group of guys that kinda started a bunch of games together, strung a bunch of wins together and kinda started to gel and kinda figure out what we’re doing,” Unger said. “That’s probably where the majority of our success came from.”