STACY ROST

Seahawks Notebook: Importance of OL play, a college hire that impacts Seattle

Feb 4, 2022, 9:45 AM

Seahawks Ethan Pocic...

Ethan Pocic and Russell Wilson of the Seahawks gesture before a play against the 49ers during a 2021 game. (Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

(Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

Go figure that the most basic concepts about football remain true, even in 2021. Because last time we looked at the playoffs landscape, one thing was clear: many of the league’s best teams were strong in the trenches. Unfortunately for the Seahawks, it was an area where they were lagging.

Clayton: Latest on Seahawks offseason, including D-coordinator opening

Adding to that misfortune is the fact that it’s also an area where two of their NFC West counterparts, the Los Angeles Rams and San Francisco 49ers, were decidedly not lagging.

Both teams combined for 98 sacks in the regular season and represented the NFC in the conference championship game. They also both finished in the top 10 of Pro Football Focus’ offensive line rankings. On the Rams’ defensive line is First-Team All-Pro Aaron Donald, one of the finest players in the league, and on San Francisco’s offensive line were First-Team All-Pro left tackle Trent Williams and two Pro Bowl interior linemen (center Alex Mack and guard Laken Tomlinson). Next Sunday one of those teams, the Rams, will play in the Super Bowl.

If the last installment of this two-part series was looking at the pass rush, this week’s Seahawks notebook kicks off with a look at the importance of improving the offensive line. That’s also where this gets a bit more interesting, because playing opposite the Rams next Sunday are the Cincinnati Bengals, a team with an offensive line that is definitely, absolutely, positively not among the league’s best.

Where do they rank? That same outlet (Pro Football Focus) had the Bengals offensive line finishing No. 20 overall this season, which is actually up from their 2020 ranking of 30th overall. But it’s certainly not one of the several Top-10 units that were represented in this year’s playoffs. Their highest-graded player, left tackle Jonah Williams, has played well but has still allowed eight sacks. It’s worth noting they’ve dealt with injuries keeping starters in and out of the lineup and they’ve seen solid work from the left side of the line, which pushed Cincinnati ahead of Seattle (25th) in those rankings. But the difference isn’t vast, and it might just cost the Bengals a championship when they face off against a Rams team that registered 50 sacks this year.

Or maybe it won’t. Perhaps the Bengals, who surrendered an NFL record nine sacks of quarterback Joe Burrow in the divisional round, win it all. And just as there will be conversations about being more aggressive in trades should the Rams win, there will be conversations about how much questionable play a team can get away with up front should the Bengals walk away the victors. A word of caution for those conversations, though: it’s hard to look at a unit as inconsistent as Cincinnati’s offensive line and not feel as though luck and timing has also factored into that same team finding success. It’s also hard to watch that team and not come away feeling confident that stellar seasons from Burrow and rookie receiver Ja’Marr Chase – who now holds the franchise record for receiving yards in a season – were much bigger forces behind an improbable Super Bowl run.

To sum this up more quickly: the Bengals Super Bowl appearance alone doesn’t prove great offensive line play isn’t an important part of success – it still is! – and the Seahawks should still look to improve there this offseason.

Here’s what else you need to know this week:

Why Miami’s newest hire matters for Seahawks fans

Mario Cristobal continued to add to his coaching staff at Miami earlier this week, bringing on Kevin Steele as defensive coordinator.

If you’re a Hurricanes fan, that’s relevant news (and I look forward to discussing the arguments for orange as the very best college uniform color).

If you’re a Seahawks fan, this news is still important, though.

Miami was reportedly pursuing Seahawks defensive line coach/assistant head coach Clint Hurtt, a Miami alum, for defensive coordinator. With Steele being named to the role, it’s likely Hurtt remains in Seattle, where he’s still a rumored frontrunner for the Seahawks’ vacant defensive coordinator job.

Russell Wilson sets a Pro Bowl record

Wilson and Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins were two late additions to NFC Pro Bowl this week, replacing Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers, respectively. Wilson made some noise with his arrival, setting a new record in the Pro Bowl’s Precision Passing contest with 29 points. Worth noting: Wilson also led in this drill in 2020 (19 points) and 2019 (19 points).

What finger injury?

Rost: What to know about ex-Dolphins coach Brian Flores lawsuit against NFL

Stacy Rost

Chicago White Sox Luis Robert Seattle Mariners 2024...

Stacy Rost

Rost: Six bats that are potential trade fits for Mariners’ lineup

Stacy Rost takes a look at six potential hitters who would be ideal fits for the Seattle Mariners to target at the trade deadline.

7 days ago

Seattle Mariners Scott Servais Julio Rodríguez...

Stacy Rost

Rost: The two things about first-place Mariners’ season that are baffling

Seattle Sports' Stacy Rost digs into the two most prevalent answers Seattle Mariners fans had to a question about what's most confusing about this season.

19 days ago

Seattle Seahawks Leonard Williams...

Stacy Rost

Rost: Seahawks’ change to defensive spending reflects new philosophy

Why insight from a Seattle Seahawks assistant highlights how a change in investment on the defensive side of the ball could pay off.

21 days ago

Seattle Mariners trade target Vladimir Guerrero Jr....

Stacy Rost

What will make an uncomfortable Seattle Mariners trade worth it?

The Seattle Mariners are expected to be a major player at the MLB trade deadline. Stacy Rost dives into the possibilities and two trade truths.

1 month ago

Seattle Mariners J.P. Crawford...

Stacy Rost

How could first-place Mariners address their need for offense?

Stacy Rost of Seattle Sports' Bump and Stacy details the silver linings for the first-place Mariners, but also their need to get more offense.

2 months ago

Seattle Mariners Luke Raley...

Stacy Rost

Rost on Mariners: What we’ve learned a quarter through the season

Just over a quarter of the way into 2024, the Seattle Mariners are 24-20. What have we learned? Stacy Rost breaks down a few things.

2 months ago

Seahawks Notebook: Importance of OL play, a college hire that impacts Seattle