Seahawks regret not switching from Drew Nowak to Patrick Lewis earlier

Nov 27, 2015, 9:47 AM | Updated: 10:06 am
Patrick Lewis has given Seattle more consistent play at center since taking over for Drew Nowak. (A...
Patrick Lewis has given Seattle more consistent play at center since taking over for Drew Nowak. (AP)
(AP)

RENTON – Having seen the difference that Patrick Lewis has made for their offensive line since taking over at center, the Seahawks regret not pulling the plug on the Drew Nowak experiment earlier.

Coach Pete Carroll made that admission this week when asked if he wished Seattle had gone with Lewis from the start and not Nowak, whose potential in the team’s eyes outweighed his inexperience as a recently-converted guard. Carroll didn’t say he regrets the Seahawks’ decision to give Nowak a shot, but he acknowledged that he wishes they wouldn’t have waited as long as they did to switch to Lewis.

“Now that I see how he’s doing,” Carroll said of Lewis. “We really set our sights on trying to get Drew going. We thought that there was going to be a quick upsurge in his play, and it was hard for him in making the transition and all that. So as I look back now, I would’ve liked to have given Patrick a chance earlier …”

Asked a similar question, offensive-line coach Tom Cable said: “I guess the answer to that is yeah, but it’s easy to say that now.”

The Seahawks didn’t have the benefit of hindsight in August when they made Nowak the starter or earlier in the season when they stuck with him through his predictable struggles. Seattle’s reasoning was understandable even if it proved to be miscalculated.

It was never going to be smooth with Nowak. After all, he was a college defensive tackle who played guard his first two years in the NFL before Seattle moved him to center over the offseason. But the Seahawks liked his strength and athleticism and took a leap of faith, believing he had more potential than their other options and that he’d start to realize it after taking his lumps early on.

Seattle’s patience lasted until Week 6, when Nowak was pulled in favor of Lewis.

“His learning curve is just going to take a little bit longer,” Carroll said. “It just didn’t happen as fast as we needed it to.”

Lewis’ promotion to starter marked his latest of several moves up and down Seattle’s depth chart. He was with the Seahawks during the 2014 offseason but was waived then re-signed midway through the year when Max Unger was first injured. Lewis started four games in 2014 – all Seattle victories – and was part of the three-way center competition this past offseason after Unger was traded. Lewis looked like he could be the odd-man out when he was taking reps with the third team, but Seattle parted ways with Lemuel Jeanpierre instead.

And as soon as he took over for Nowak at center, Lewis sprained his ankle and missed the next two games. The Seahawks re-inserted him into the starting lineup as soon as he was healthy enough to play. His return has coincided with noticeable improvement from Seattle’s offensive line. Russell Wilson hasn’t constantly been under siege like he was earlier in the season, and Carroll brought up Lewis unsolicited when asked about the evolution of Seattle’s running game, which produced a season-high 255 yards in last week’s win over San Francisco.

“We’ve just become more proficient in doing what we’re doing. One of the things I’ll mention to you is I think Patrick Lewis has really helped us,” Carroll said. “If you take a look at when he came in, he’s done a nice job for us. We haven’t changed anything in essence, we just try to continue to grow and to get better and take advantage of the scheme and all that. But we haven’t changed as we’ve gone through the season, we’ve just improved. But you look back when Patrick started playing, we’ve played very well since he’s been in there and he’s been a nice little uptick. So hopefully we’ll keep growing.”

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Seahawks regret not switching from Drew Nowak to Patrick Lewis earlier