Over the course of my last few articles, we've discussed many aspects of running the ball. We've compared offenses, coaches, play calling and running backs. I was planning on doing an in-depth article about the offensive lines. However as I started to collect information and pick my narrative there was really too much I felt that was left out as I tried to pre-write the article.
So for a couple of days I decided to think on it. The biggest reason I started these articles was because we were seeing Pete developing a run-first team. I figured by comparing the top two rushing offenses, we could learn what elements create consistent success. It's not that complicated on the surface, but when you really sit down and look, the details are quite interesting.
While watching a game from 1984 I heard this quote: "Blair Bush was Chuck (Knox)'s key pick up; he helped settle that offensive line, he brings the grinder's attitude and never stops fighting until the whistle."
Blair Bush was undersized. He was reported at 262 and at his heaviest was 278. He had significant weakness against the pass rush but was always working fast and finishing strong. I knew after keying on him that I had the narrative I wanted.
Max Unger is in the same boat as Blair Bush. He's going to be the key to this team if this O-line is going to gel, if the zone scheme is going to work. If we're going to see consistency, Max Unger must follow Blair Bush's path. If you watch any old Seahawks games from the Knox era, you can't miss Blair Bush, he's always moving, pulling, trapping, cutting down defenders or tying up a lineman. He never made the Pro Bowl because he didn't dominate, but he never turned a guy loose unless it was to get up field after Warner had cleared him.
When I first watched Unger I appreciated his style, and though he got knocked around at times and struggled in pass protection, he never jogged or turned a guy loose, and he always seemed to have at least one play a game where he got up the field and cleaned someone's clock. The attitude is there, the athleticism may not ever be great in terms of strength but that doesn't mean he can't still be damn good.
Robbie Tobeck had this to say of Max Unger's potential as Seattle's center in 2009 when Mora announced it.
"I think this kid has been the most fun to watch, he's the only one I see with a future on this line. He has all this attitude stuff, maybe it's not stats or lighting it up like a Probowl guard or showing flashes of strength, but I love how he looks to mix it up in the running game and hustles. Pass protection is concerning, but at center, he can call for help, that's what I did. I mean, every time I could, I was calling for Hutch to chip or help on my guy so I could bail out or maybe help Gray once in a while." Brock and Salk, 710 ESPN
Tavaris Jackson had this to say on Max Unger:
When asked Jackson lauded Max Unger for "the way he can move and the way he blocks and the way he picks the offense up."
Tom Cable says this of his starting center:
"The positive is he’s in pretty good shape now -- he’s very rested, as they all are, from the lockout. When you don’t get to play though, you never get those reps back that you lost. So that’s the negative, but he’s a brilliant, brilliant guy and very talented, so his acceleration and learning has been extreme early already." Both of these quotes can be found in this article of Mike Sando's NFC West blog
And as a final quote we find Max Unger himself from August 4th on Bob and Groz, 710 ESPN
"The system is the same, but the terminology is completely different, so we just have to work on translating the words into our language."
Unger answers a load of questions for a good 12 minutes or so and really reminds me a lot of Robbie Tobeck, -- just a very outgoing personality. It's worth a listen to get a sense of the kind of guy who has enough faith from an organization to let their veteran starting center walk.
However this turns out, Max Unger is the one to really watch this season. Everything else is just in transition at all the other major positions. I believe in Max, and I hope I can watch him become the franchise at center we've been wishing for.