GLENDALE, AZ - SEPTEMBER 09: Quarterback Russell Wilson #3 of the Seattle Seahawks prepares to snap the football from center Max Unger #60 during the season opener against the Arizona Cardinals at the University of Phoenix Stadium on September 9, 2012 in Glendale, Arizona. The Carindals defeated the Seahawks 20-16. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Earlier this week, in a two-part series (PART I, PART II), I tried to break down, using the game-film, why the Seahawks struggled so badly in pass protection against the Cardinals. The long of the short of it is -- and you should go back and read those articles if you missed them -- when Arizona was doing so much shifting and moving around prior to the snap, it really throws any protections you've set out of whack, especially if there's major shifting right before the snap. You have five offensive linemen, a running back and a tight end (depending on personnel), and each guy has a job to do based on what the defense is showing (that's the extremely simplified version of it).
NorthwestSportsPress' Art Thiel talked to C Max Unger today, and Unger shed some light on some of the major reasons Seattle struggled getting on the same page - and it comes down to making proper line calls. Having a rookie in J.R. Sweezy in the mix complicated communication. "It's really simple stuff - vocalizing everything you should do," said Unger. "With someone you've played with a little longer, you take some things for granted. We didn't make some calls, we had some protection breakdowns. It's a matter of being on the same page - even if we're wrong, we we're all wrong the same way."
"We have a set of rules for blocking three down linemen," he continued, "If there's four, we have a set of rules, if there's five we have a set of rules. We have to know the rules because the guys on the left side can't see the guys on the right side, and vice versa. We get out of doing that in practice, because our defense knows our calls, and we don't want them to know what we're doing." -- Interesting.
Seahawks' coach Pete Carroll confirmed that this was a major issue, noting "It was about communicating. It was really clear that was the issue for us. We didn't take advantage of our calls as well as we had been doing, so we didn't target (rushers) as well. That's something that we can do well. We've been doing it, but for whatever reason in this game we weren't as effective as we have been and it caused some problems for us."
It's a logical thing - and answers some of the questions I posed in my two breakdowns earlier this week? Why would the Seahawks down-block away from a pre-snap overload? Why was Breno Giacomini late to get a block in on Darnell Dockett? Why was J.R. Sweezy double teaming the nose guard instead of taking helping with Dockett? It comes down to communication, according to both Unger and Carroll. Not all the problems were communication based -- sometimes players just get beat by superior opponents, but it does seem clear to me that there were major issues with assignments on some plays and apparent miscommunication on others; at least this is a coachable issue.