Seattle Seahawks: Offensive Line Needs to Step Up Against the Cardinals


Seattle Seahawks: Offensive Line Needs to Step Up Against the Cardinals

Historically speaking, one thing Seattle Seahawks fans could never be accused of was overconfidence. But then the 43-8 rout of the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XLVIII happened and everything changed.

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In some respects, the transformation of the average Seahawks fan (and Seattle sports fans in general) is still shocking, especially when you remember how bad things were in 2008.  The Seahawks finished 4-12, the Seattle Mariners went 61-101 and the Washington Huskies football program recorded the first ever 0-12 record in Pac-10 history. (Need I go on?)

The reason I mention this is because to listen to some people in the Seattle area, you’d think the upcoming clash with the Arizona Cardinals was a forgone conclusion. A lot of this belief centers around the fact that the Cardinals will be starting Ryan Lindley at quarterback.

Now I can sort of understand this, especially when you consider Lindley’s career statistics, combined with the fact he’s facing the best defense in the league. However, we shouldn’t forget that the Seahawks will be going up against a pretty damn good defense themselves.

Dec 14, 2014; Seattle, WA, USA; San Francisco 49ers linebacker Dan Skuta (51) sacks Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson (3) in the second quarter at CenturyLink Field. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

It’s all very well saying that Seattle has Russell Wilson back there, but it won’t mean a thing if he doesn’t have time to get rid of the ball. This is where the offensive line comes into play.

The offensive line is arguably the weakest link on the team. Despite beating the Cardinals 19-3 in their last encounter, the Seahawks gave up a season-high seven sacks.

A similar outcome on Sunday could have major ramifications on the result, as head coach Pete Carroll told the Seattle media: “Seven sacks in a game like this could mean the difference. So we’re taking account of that and hopefully (we can) fix it.’’

The Seahawks offensive line has struggled most of the season, but the Cardinals clash seemed to affect their confidence even more. They entered that contest having not allowed more than three sacks in any one game, but have allowed 18 in the four contests that followed.

What makes things even more worrying is that the Seahawks likely won’t even be able to field their best five players in Arizona.  On Wednesday, Russell Okung, Max Unger and J.R. Sweezy were all missing from practice.

Right guard Sweezy was the biggest surprise, given that there had been no previous mention of his dealing with any injury concerns. Unger has missed the last four games, while Okung left last Sunday’s encounter with the San Francisco 49ers at half time.

Oct 6, 2014; Landover, MD, USA; Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll (R) celebrates with tackle Russell Okung (76) after scoring a touchdown against the Washington Redskins during the second half at FedEx Field. The Seahawks won 27-17. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Interestingly, Unger and Okung could be available for the game against the Cardinals, although any optimism is cautious at best. Unger has been dealing with knee and ankle injuries, while Okung had to go to the hospital with a bruised lung after a devastating block by Ray McDonald.

Assuming Okung doesn’t play, his place will be taken by Alvin Bailey, who filled in during the second half of the 49ers game. The second year pro battled gamely, but it was clear to everyone that he is a significant downgrade at the cruical left tackle position.

Whatever the unit looks like against Arizona, offensive line coach Tom Cable stressed that they will have to improve significantly on their recent performances: “You’ve really just got to be better, that’s a fact. (You’ve) got to be better.’’

Overall, you would still expect the Seahawks to win and take another step towards clinching the all-important home field advantage for the playoffs. However, let’s try to keep the overconfidence to a minimum because the Cardinals won’t be a pushover at home, where they are unbeaten.