Thus far, Pete Carroll and company have been preparing for the season without some of the Seattle Seahawks key players on the offensive line taking valuable snaps. The biggest question last season regarding the Seahawks was their offensive line. They then lost right tackle Breno Giacomini and left tackle Paul McQuistan to free agency this offseason, which once again has led to the offensive line being the biggest question mark going into the season. Many people believe that the offensive line could actually be worse, but I am here to tell you that they could actually be greatly improved.
The offensive line played poorly a couple weeks ago against the Denver Broncos, but they fared much better against the San Diego Chargers, thanks in large part to the return of offensive guard James Carpenter and the play of J.R. Sweezy. Carpenter has missed some time due to a calf injury, but you wouldn’t know it based on how he performed against the Chargers. Carpenter has been a bit of a disappointment since being drafted in the first round of the 2011 NFL draft, but he has dropped weight and appears to be taking a big step forward in his career.
Sweezy is a different story, and a different beast altogether. He is only in his third year after being converted from defensive tackle to offensive guard, and this might be the first year where we begin to see his true potential. Sweezy dominated the Chargers’ defensive front, and, according to Carroll, he has been the most dominant guy on the offensive line throughout camp. “I’ve never seen a guy have a more physical football game than Sweezy,” Carroll said in reference of Sweezy’s game against San Diego.
Seattle now gets to look forward to the return of big time players Max Unger at the center position, and Russell Okung at left tackle. Unger was first team All-Pro in 2012, and Okung was a pro-bowler that same year, so they are a major factor for the Seahawks’ offensive success going forward. Both players are likely to play Friday against the Chicago Bears. Tom Cable would love to see those two get as much work in as possible before the season opener against the Green Bay Packers.
The right tackle position will more than likely be occupied by either free agent acquisition, Eric Winston, or second-round pick, Justin Britt. Winston, of course, is a proven veteran in the league. However, it appears as though Britt may be the man for the job. Britt was viewed by many draft pundits as a fourth or fifth-round selection, so it is only natural that the Seahawks made Britt the No. 64 selection. Britt suffered from multiple serious leg injuries during the 2012 season, but he came back to earn All-SEC accolades from the coaches (Second Team) and the media (First Team) last season with the Missouri Tigers. There is no doubt that Britt is a warrior, and that should bode well for the Seahawks’ offense.
I get the skepticism. Russell Wilson had to run for his life far too often last season, and, at least on paper, the offensive line looks even weaker at first glance. But when you look at the consistent improvement, the return of Okung and Unger, and the development of both Sweezy and Carpenter, is it really that improbable to think that they might not just be better, but that they may even be a whole heck of a lot better than last season. Time will tell, of course, but I am beyond excited to see what this unit can do to opposing defenses.