Even if you have only casually observed the 2017 version of Seattle’s offense, you can’t be impressed with their offensive line play. Athletic and mobile QB Russell Wilson was running for his life the majority of the time, whoever started at running back spent each game running head first in to brick walls (surprisingly not the reason they have been so banged up this year), and receivers seemed to be getting bored running routes just to rarely see a football come near them.
This week, all of that has the potential to change, and it’s all thanks to a very unlikely hero – the NFL office’s fax machine.
That’s right folks, trades are still done the old-fashioned way in the NFL, and once teams complete a trade they have to make it official by getting the paperwork to the league office the same way you or I might have received an internet signal way back when Will Smith was famous in the music industry. And if that reference didn’t click for you, don’t @ me, just look it up and move on. For as good as Google is at gathering information, you still have to look it up. These are not the Dewey Decimal System days (another reference you’re not likely to get, and again, don’t @ me), so it’s surprising how little research the average younger person is willing to do in today’s age of information. If you don’t understand a piece of information you hear or see on your phone, you can just switch to another tab and look it up. Having to say this in writing is exactly why the website lmgtfy.com exists, and their tag line is “for all those people who find it more convenient to bother you with their question rather than search it for themselves”. If you are contributing to this problem, please stop. Please also stop using “that happened before I was born” as an excuse for things you don’t know. Blame your teachers, blame your parents, blame your friends, but do not blame your birth year. If you have a cell phone, with the world’s information readily available, there is no legitimate reason for you to be that oblivious. And yes, I do like my typewriter, and yes, my cardigan is comfortable, and yes I do need to shout in to the phone, my voice has to travel a long distance to the other person and I have to yell over the volume of you kids and your darn devil music (if you can even call that garbage music these days). And we’re moving on.
And speaking of moving on, the Seahawks and their offensive line finally have an answer at left tackle, and his name is Duane Brown, the latest in a list of blind side blockers that have called the Seahawks family. And while the list of players to hold down the blind side fort is rather long, the list of memorable left tackles in Seattle is not. It’s just one name – Walter Jones, and then everyone else. If we are giving credit to guys who performed admirably but were not game-changers you will tell your grandkids about, the list also includes Ron Essink, Ron Mattes, Ray Roberts, James Atkins, and most recently, Russell Okung and George Fant. This Sunday, that list will add former All-Pro Duane Brown, acquired in a trade with Houston earlier this week. Brown is not on the level of Jones (these days, who is?), but he is probably better than Okung (now with the Chargers) and definitely better right now than Fant may become some day when he is not on injured reserve.
This is how the new deal (after Jeremy Lane was scratched) shakes out for both sides –
Seattle gives up:
2018 third rounder
2019 second rounder
32-year-old LT Duane Brown, 10th season
Pro Bowl 2012-2014
Started 133 of 151 games
2018 5th rounder
CB Jeremy Lane (was involved in trade originally but failed physical)
I’m honestly surprised TE Jimmy Graham was not included in this deal. It would have made perfect sense for both teams, but for whatever reason, Seattle didn’t have to give up any key players or draft picks to get exactly what they needed to get their season back on track. Russell Wilson even re-worked his contract to make sure there was room for the team to absorb Brown’s contract. So the deal worked out, but the bigger question, is why did it work? Typically, if you wish upon a shooting star, it doesn’t mean the wish will just be granted because it’s what you needed to be better. But in this case, that’s almost exactly what happened. Seattle was granted their wish, and they didn’t even need to pay heavily for it.
There are exceptions to the rule, but traditionally speaking, high quality left tackles are not found beyond the first round of the draft, and even then, they usually go very early. Giving up one second and one third round pick in two different drafts doesn’t even equate to the value of a first rounder, so Houston isn’t getting market value for one of their best assets who also happens to be one of the best at the position and one with limited injury history to boot. Seattle absolutely got a steal here, while Houston gets something in exchange for a player they weren’t going to be able to convince to stay any way. Both teams won this trade, but Seattle took the biggest chunk of that victory.
Being a second half team under Pete Carroll, the division lead in hand (by tie-breaker), and looking like the number two in the conference behind Philadelphia; Brown’s arrival is great news for the Seahawks and bad news for any team hoping to see them continue to struggle. The Rams looked to be running away from them early on, but with a head to head win and momentum on their side, the keys are in Seattle’s hands and they can take this thing as far as they want. The defense hasn’t been as strong this year but a good portion of that can be attributed to a lack of balance on offense. With the offensive line capable of producing running lanes, things should start to look up in the time of possession battle, which should help the defense to do what they do best – making life difficult for opposing QB’s.
Keeping veteran cornerback Jeremy Lane will be key (if it stands), as the staple in Seattle has been their pass defense since 2012, and that has gone from one of the scariest pass defenses of all time in 2013, to where they are today – 16th in yards allowed, 7th in points allowed, and 6th in passing touchdowns allowed. Still good, but not good enough to make up for an average offense over the course of an entire season. They are holding opponents to an average of 18.9 points per game and scoring an average of 25, but how long do they expect that to hold up? If they can get their running game on track and put more long and time consuming drives together, it will keep their defense fresh as well as put pressure on opposing teams to score quickly, which usually creates mistakes and those become turnovers. It’s a simple formula but one that Seattle has used to great success in the past.
This was the right deal and with no players moving to Houston, it was actually a great deal, as Seattle gets current value for their picks instead of potential down the road, which is something they just keep doing. Every Seattle fan should be thrilled they pulled it off, this is a team that was viewed as a mess as recently as two weeks ago, and now their opponents will have to view them as a dark horse team ready to make a charge. Last week’s wild win over Houston was a great season changing game, but getting a blind side blocker could make this a season to remember. Merry Christmas, Seattle. Football is going to be fun to watch again.