Seahawks LT Duane Brown on O-line’s shaky outing: ‘We have to be better’
Critics pegged the Seahawks’ young secondary as a weakness going into their matchup against Cincinnati – something the Bengals were admittedly able to exploit for most of the game – but few expected the offensive line to struggle as much as they did in the Seahawks’ 21-20 win Sunday.
Even the ever-optimistic Pete Carroll admitted he was surprised.
“I was really surprised that we had trouble protecting today; we struggled with our play-pass stuff, which has been really strong for us, and it just didn’t work out as well as we wanted it to,” the Seahawks head coach said post-game. “So we didn’t get our shots and we wound up with a lot of negative situations behind the sticks. That’s always hard and it just made for a hard day.”
The unit played well through a handful of brief preseason appearances, even without starting left guard Mike Iupati. On Sunday, though, Seattle’s offense finished with an uncharacteristically low rushing yard total (72 on a combined 25 attempts) and surrendered four sacks.
Granted, a single game – in particular a Week 1 outing – is hardly enough to build the measure of any team. Last year’s O-line, which boasted four of the team’s current starters, surrendered 12 sacks across the first two games before establishing a successful rushing attack in Week 3.
A little rust was expected across the league with so many starters having sat out August’s preseason games. It’s a factor, left tackle Duane Brown acknowledged, but not an excuse.
“It’s a lot of that,” Brown said about shaking off the rust. “We didn’t get a lot of plays in the preseason, but it’s no excuse. We’re a veteran group and we know what to expect…
“(We) didn’t run the ball consistently, didn’t do a great job of pass protection. I’ve got to take my hat off to (the Bengals’ defense). They had a good game plan; they’ve got good players over there. But our standards are a lot higher than our performance was today and we have to be better. The standard that we set for ourselves, especially in the run game, was not met today. And in pass pro, we’ve got to keep Russ (quarterback Russell Wilson) clean – bottom line. So I’ll be better, we’ll be better as a group. That’s where it starts. It starts with us up front.”
Last year’s Seahawks offensive line finished 17th overall in pass-blocking efficiency – a notable improvement from years’ prior – and helped Seattle gain a league-leading 160 rushing yards per game. Now the group is in its second season under O-line coach Mike Solari and has size on its side.
“We’re anywhere from 320 (pounds) to 360 or 370, across that line,” tackle George Fant said earlier this summer. “So, we’re embracing that run first smack them in the mouth mentality and I think upstairs is, too.”
Brown and the rest of the Seahawks’ offensive line will have a chance to meet their standards on Sept. 15 when Seattle faces off against the Pittsburgh Steelers in a 10 a.m. kickoff on the road.
“We’ll be alright,” Carroll said, when asked about establishing the run next week. “We have a long ways to go. We’re just getting started. This is not an indication of anything. This is just our first game; we didn’t play very well up front like we wanted to … Give (Cincinnati) credit. That’s a good group up front.”