I feel a bit bad having to rank the Seahawks' offensive line from the Seahawks' win over the 49ers last Sunday, because I don't think anyone really had a bad game. And, for J.R. Sweezy, Russell Okung, Patrick Lewis, Justin Britt, Garry Gilliam, and Lemuel Jeanpierre, the grades were somewhat close together, to be quite honest.
The Seahawks had 28 first downs in the game, 14 by air and 14 by ground, and anytime you rush for 250 yards and gain over 500 yards with only two sacks, the offensive line has to be playing somewhat decent (you would think).
Anyhow, here are my notes and rankings from the SF Game:
(1) J.R. SWEEZY
I thought Sweezy had a good game against pretty low competition. His holding penalty killed off a drive, but I didn't think it was that bad of a hold. It may have been a hold -- but not egregious. Overall, Sweezy had a good day in the run game and in pass-pro. I counted him for perhaps two mistakes in pass pro -- he gives ground on a bull rush and then also allows Arik Armstead to penetrate on a long intermediate pass to Graham in the middle of the field. He also fell down in pass pro (to his knee -- not his butt), but the play was away from him and it didn't factor.
Outside of those two or three plays he did quite well. He had a nice blitz pickup on the 2nd touchdown pass to Tyler Lockett. Sweezy had some very nice second level blocks all through the game and also had nice effort and finish on the Rawls Rushing TD from close range. I suspect Tom Cable grades Sweezy as his best run blocker.
(2) RUSSELL OKUNG
I counted Okung for two mistakes. He falls down and gives up a sack in the 2nd quarter, and he also clearly false starts in the Red Zone on 3rd and 4 in the 3rd quarter. The false start kills off the conversion down and distance, so that could have been points off the board.
Seattle has been terrible on 3rd and 4 (in the red zone, no less) but somehow I think versus a weak opponent like San Francisco they had a good chance at converting the 3rd and 4. I did notice Okung gets away with swaying his body a bit and moving his head (more swivel not up and down head movement) pre-snap, but the refs usually leave it alone.
On the second to last drive (game was over) he gets away with a hold on a Thomas Rawls run but it is not called. When the defender gets pissed and pushes him after the whistle, Okung flopped and fell on the ground. It was pretty funny, and I am glad the refs didn't call anything there on either side.
I liked Okung's game in Santa Clara better than this one, but this was still a solid performance even with the two mistakes.
In the run game, Okung is effective. He is better when he is on the play-side rather than when the run is going away from him, those are the times when he looks a little more clumsy. Rawls popped runs where the defender can't get off Okung's block and make the play.
(3) PATRICK LEWIS
I really liked Lewis in this game. I counted him for three or four mistakes, but I thought he was really solid in the run game, sticking on his man on both the first- and second-level and driving his feet. He did have the false start and does allow a sack on the first play of the quarter, though.
I don't know what happened on the sack, as the defender works both Lewis and Britt, but I wonder if Seattle had a swap type pass protection set up and it got fouled up. Sometimes Seattle likes to do these fancy swaps on deep shots where a Guard or Center pulls. I saw that Russell Wilson was 11 for 11 against the blitz, so something is working in terms of Wilson and Lewis being on the same page.
Pete Carroll admitted on Wednesday that he regrets not going to Lewis earlier in the season.
The other two mistakes included falling down on the Tyler Lockett touchdown #2 on a swap, but he does pick up the swap and the pass is off in time. Ian Williams (the NT) shifts late in the middle of the 3rd quarter toward Lewis' outside left shoulder, and is able to penetrate. Lewis could get bailed out if the play action platform was in the normal place (to the offense right) but Seattle happened to try to switch it up and had Russell Wilson setting up his platform left of center (more rare), and Wilson had to abandon the play. Seattle was likely setting up a deep shot there.
Overall though, a good game for Lewis -- I was pretty encouraged watching his game.
(4) JUSTIN BRITT
I don't think Britt had a bad game, I just liked the three guys above a bit better versus San Francisco.
The Seahawks open the 3rd quarter with a sack, as a defender blows though both Britt and Lewis. Wilson scrambles right but is taken down by two defenders. Britt also falls down on the touchdown to Tyler Lockett to open the game. I believe he also gives up inside pressure on a play where Wilson hits Fred Jackson for 9 yards. Besides those two to three plays, Britt was okay in pass-pro and for the most part good in the run game. He slips off a few blocks that I noticed, but overall an okay effort and performance for Britt outside of those two double minus plays.
He played much better versus the Niners than against the Cardinals (level of competition likely a huge factor).
(5) GARRY GILLIAM
Again, to repeat, I don't think Gilliam had a bad game. I think his game was on par with Britt for the most part, I just liked Sweezy, Okung and Lewis better. I had Gilliam with two minus plays in pass-pro, both when he had to block down (more in guard type position) then when he typically fans out on the edge.
Russell was able to evade on one, and complete a check down pass to Luke Willson (I think original playcall was a deep shot). Gilliam gives up penetration on another play -- again, he is blocking down, not fanning out -- and he allows penetration. Gilliam also had penalty for a leg whip which I thought was a terrible call.
On the play before Lockett's second touchdown, San Francisco puts on a run blitz near Gilliam, and he blocks neither --both get through -- and Rawls takes a 5-yard tackle-for-a-loss.
In the 2nd quarter, he allows penetration, but Wilson is able to hit Fred Jackson for 9 yards. One thing I noticed during part of the game, Gilliam sets pretty far back from the center (deep), and I almost wonder if he is setting so deep that it could be an infraction. On the run plays he is more often in a 3-point stance and noticeably closer to the line of scrimmage. Perhaps in obvious passing situations the Seahawks are ok with him lining up deep -- something to watch. In the 2nd quarter, Gilliam has a very nice block on NaVorro Bowman, which helps spring Rawls for a long run.
I thought Gilliam looks improved though overall, and he showed progression from his performance against the Niners in Santa Clara on Thursday Night.
I am not ranking Lem here, but he did play half of the 4th quarter. I thought he had one very good block on the final 3rd down conversion run by Rawls. He gets out and turns and performs a nice seal on that play. On the 3rd and 1 on the second to last drive, he is up on Navorro Bowman, but Bowman slips his block and is able to stuff Rawls for no gain and Seattle is forced to punt.