A Mack Truck Is Headed For The Seattle Seahawks O-Line

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Kahlil Mack is a force of nature. For some inexplicable reason, the Oakland Raiders and returning so-called wunderkind Jon Gruden traded the fifth-year linebacker out of Buffalo University to the Chicago Bears, rather than pay him Von Miller money, much less Aaron Donald money. Last Sunday night versus the Green Bay Packers in Green Bay, Mack, in limited snaps and surely limited knowledge of the Bears defensive scheme, recorded three tackles, two solo, two for losses, including a sack. Never mind the ridiculous pick six of back up QB DeShone Kizer near the end of the second quarter.

Up until the one-legged Aaron Rodgers mounted the Packers miraculous second half come back, the Bears defense had Chicagoans waxing nostalgic for Mike Ditka’s 1985 Super Bowl Shuffle Bears. For one half, the Bears defense looked inspiring and awesome. Rogers is also inspiring and awesome and so the unstoppable force overcame the immovable object.

This week on Monday Night Football, that same Bears defense will face the an apparently much less unstoppable force – the Seattle Seahawks offensive line.

The Recurring Nightmare

The bane of Seattle Seahawks fans existence for the past several seasons has been the offensive line. As the inexpensive stars of the Super Bowl years, like Russell Wilson and the Legion of Boom, started to get paid market value off of rookie contracts, the salary cap has been managed largely by skimping on payroll on the offensive line.

In 2017, the Seahawks offensive line ranked 31stout of 32 teams in run blocking efficiency, according to DVOA by Football Outsiders, and 21stin pass blocking by the same metric. The year before, the run blocking was slightly better, ranking 26th, but the pass blocking ranked 30th. The mad scrambling of Russell Wilson, that often makes highlights on ESPN, isn’t necessarily the product of improvisational creativity, but often the necessity of survival.

And while advanced metrics, like DVOA, won’t be available for this season until after week two games have concluded, just looking at the old-fashioned counting stats tells a familiar story of the Seahawks O-Line this year.

Week one against the Broncos, the Seahawks rushed for 64 yards on 16 carries. The four yards a carry doesn’t look bad until you throw out the outlier 24-yard burst by Chris Carson and also the five yards of desperation by the QB. Then you get a clearer picture. Say, 35 yards on 13 carries, otherwise, for an average of 2.69 yards per carry.

Wilson was sacked 6 times, 3 of them by Von Miller from the outside linebacker position that Kahlil Mack will line up in Monday. His QBR for the game was a dismal 38.1 and was largely attributable to the fact he had no time to throw. Yes, he had 3 touchdowns. But, he also threw 2 interceptions and fumbled twice, luckily not turning the ball over on either occasion.

This week, the wrecking ball that is Von Miller gets one upped by the force of nature that is Kahlil Mack, only now with a week of practice in the Bears scheme.

You Know the Stat

Currently, the Vegas line has the Bears as either 3 or 3 ½ point favorites. Since the game is in Chicago, the betting wisdom is that the two teams are roughly even, with a nod in points going to the home team. To say that the underdog Seahawks “must win” is perhaps a stretch, but every fan of the NFL knows the infamous week two statistic. It’s a staple of sports talk radio. Since 1990, teams starting 0-2 have a 12.2% chance of making the playoffs.

It’s early, but the Seahawks season may be on the line. The question is, can the offensive line stop an I-90 Mack truck?

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About Author

Brian Hight

Brian Hight lives in Seattle and writes primarily about MLB and the local Seattle Mariners, with a focus on advanced analytics. Occasionally, he delves into the NFL and the NBA, also with an emphasis on advanced statistics. He’s currently pursuing a Certificate in Data Analysis online from Microsoft, where he hopes to create a prediction model for baseball outcomes for his capstone project.

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