One of the biggest offseason moves for the Seahawks involved the hiring of an offensive coordinator and offensive line coach that are phenomenal at taking the running game to the next level. New offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer has experience taking the likes of Thomas Jones to multiple thousand yard rushing seasons, and dragged the likes of Zac Stacy to relevancy as well. He’s also never had a quarterback to work with like Russell Wilson, and his expertise in the running game will help open up the field for the dangerous quarterback.
Schottenheimer will have help from Mike Solari, a coach he’s worked with before in Kansas City. Solari has a plethora of names that he helped usher into NFL lore. He’s coached offensive lines that paved the way for Priest Holmes, Larry Johnson, and Frank Gore. Solari has coached Willie Roaf, Will Shields, Mike Iupati, and Joe Staley. This coaching hire is betting on surefire experience.
What do these coaches have to work with?
Justin Britt has been on the offensive line for Seattle since 2014, and the organization has faith that his development can turn him into a premiere center in a zone blocking scheme. He’s not seen as a great pass blocker, but Britt had solid games against the Jaguars, 49ers, and the Colts, per Pro Football Focus. In each of those games, the Seahawks had more than 100 yards rushing as a team. The decision to keep investing time into Britt is the right thing to do, as he’s developed a rapport with Russell Wilson and the new coaching staff should be able to build on the successes he had this past year. While most would say Britt took a step back, I think Britt had a solid year.
Duane Brown is the team’s left tackle, and has probably saved Russell Wilson from injury last year. Brown had replaced Rees Odhiambo, a player who just wasn’t ready to take on the huge responsibility. Before Brown’s arrival, the Seahawks had ranked 30th in pass blocking efficiency. He’s both the cerebral and physical anchor to this offensive line, where every play will rest on his ability to keep Wilson safe. Another offseason to work should propel him to another Pro Bowl season next year.
Germain Ifedi has really struggled in his career thus far. It’s not really clear as to the motivations behind keeping Ifedi in games outside of sake for developing him. Some players develop slowly, but it’s worrisome to see Russell Wilson run away from danger every other play. As Pro Football Focus had noted, bringing in a free agent to replace Ifedi would be a good solution on this part of the line. Specifically, Cameron Fleming had been mentioned as a fit to replace Ifedi. That’d certainly be a huge victory for the Seattle Seahawks, but I highly doubt a haul like that would be possible. Hopefully the addition of Fluker, alongside Duane Brown, will help Ifedi’s development. If the veteran presence can help cut Ifedi’s mistakes by half, then that could be enough for the Seahawk offense to get by. I’m probably being too hard on Ifedi here, since he’s still really young, and this new coaching staff has the expertise to get Ifedi the help he needs.
DJ Fluker struggled with the New York Giants last year, so it’s confusing as to why the Seahawks were so quick to bring him in. There’s clearly the connection with Mike Solari, as both him and Fluker worked in New York together. However, if you’re a coach in a new location, why bring a poor blocker along with you? Solari must see potential for redemption out of Fluker, and hopefully that’s the case. Fluker does add another veteran presence on the line, which is always a plus.
Most critics would say that Ethan Pocic had struggled during his rookie season, but he’d only given up two sacks on the year and was named to the Pro Football Writer’s All-Rookie Team. He’ll be working right next to Brown again, so he won’t have to worry about picking up missed blocks. Given Solari’s reputation for developing, fans should expect Pocic to take a big leap next year.
As a whole, the Seahawks have done a decent job with the offensive line this offseason. Free agency isn’t done yet, so another addition shouldn’t be surprising. However, I think the franchise should proceed with due diligence and work to develop Ifedi and Pocic. While Fluker isn’t the most stellar addition, he’s a veteran presence that stabilizes the workplace. As mentioned already, Cameron Fleming is an available option to bring in and I’d hope for the Seahawks to take a look at Austin Howard from the Baltimore Ravens as well. All said, Seattle’s offensive line is in good hands.