I think objectively, the biggest worry among Seahawks fans for the 2016 is a repeat of the first half of the 2015 season, where Russell Wilson was getting sacked at a record pace and the Seattle offense struggled to overcome major issues up front. The Seahawks turned a corner in that realm in the second half of the year but have now lost two key starters on that line in J.R. Sweezy and Russell Okung, and it would appear Seattle is starting from scratch again -- moving players around and going with veteran stop-gap style free agents to fix the apparent issues.
Pete Carroll seems more optimistic about the offensive line than the fans do, though. I know, that's shocking.
"I think we're in good shape," Carroll told Seattle reporters from the NFL Owners' meetings in Boca Raton on Wednesday." It's very fortunate that we have Garry Gilliam. Garry Gilliam was a guy that when we first found him, we thought he was an athlete that could play left tackle. Remember, he was a tight end, and he's got really good movement. He's really quick on his feet. So the fact that he played this year (at right tackle) and did a very nice job ... he gained the starter's mentality and all that. We think that we have an athlete that's really equipped to play that spot."
So, as we talked about yesterday, the team sees Gilliam as their future left tackle. He'll face competition from Bradley Sowell as well.
"But we're going to have to go to camp and see how it all works out," continued Carroll. "We have the flexibility to see how Brad looks there. We can also do J'Marcus (Webb) there if we have to, and Garry can stay on the right side. So we'll figure that out when we get to camp and get our hands on the guys."
There's also the draft, which Carroll didn't mention. Though, it's less likely Seattle will see a starter caliber left tackle at #26.
"But Garry Gilliam, he's a tremendous prospect to be a left tackle also," said Carroll. "So whereas I think you guys are concerned about the spot, we're really not. We're excited to see how it turns out. We have good, viable guys to take a shot. And we'll see what Terry Poole can do, too, at the right tackle spot to give us four guys that really can mix it."
So, there you go. On the edges, as it stands right now, Seattle sees the foursome of Garry Gilliam, Bradley Sowell, J'Marcus Webb, and Terry Poole duking it out in training camp and the preseason for two starters' jobs. Where these guys end up is still pretty up in the air, though I'd say the favorites are Gilliam at LT and Webb at RT.
Carroll talked about Webb in more detail.
"In his career, he's been knocked around quite a bit, but we think that he's really made a big turn. He's made a big turn as a young man in his last couple years. We really think that we may be catching him at a really good time. So we're excited about him."
Carroll may be referring to Webb's decision to quit drinking 25 months ago, or he could obviously be referring too to Webb's play on the field.
As for the interior line, the team sees Mark Glowinski taking the torch at right guard.
"Yeah we are really counting on Mark to be a player," said Carroll. "We loved what he did when he finally had his chance to start (last season) and we saw him in practices. He's a real tough guy, totally gets it. We think he's a natural guard. It was part of the understanding that if we lost Sweeze he would have a chance to step up and we are excited about what he can do. He looked really good when he played against the Cardinals and showed us, I think, the future that he can play for us and be a big factor.''
As for left guard, incumbent Justin Britt slots in there still. "He gives us flexibility in that he can play both spots," said Carroll, "if we need him to play tackle he can play tackle. But I think he is just going to continue grow as a guard. He did a nice job in the running game. He needs to improve in pass protection, principles and stuff. But we are counting on him to really come through for us. We think those guards (Glowinski and Britt) give us a really secure spot with big upside.''
If you were worried about Carroll overly sugar coating everything here, which he did, probably, at least he did admit that Britt has to take some big strides in pass protection. That was a major issue last season.
I'd expect Seattle will continue to trawl the free agent group for bargains and deals, then add a couple of linemen in this year's draft as well. Guys like Kristjan Sokoli and Kona Schwenke have the potential to surprise during training camp and preseason as well.
Still, the offensive line remains the most major question mark for Seattle going in to 2016.