Every fan of the Seattle Seahawks knows the offensive line of the team has struggled in recent seasons, and the move to add Duane Brown at left tackle should shore up the position in pass protection for the immediate future. Another question that is asked is how much of an influence will he have in the running game?
After the Hawks putrid performance against the Houston Texans in the run game on Sunday, when the running backs combined for five yards on sixteen carries, the question is how quickly can Brown help improve that. In terms of stepping in and taking over as a better run blocking tackle than what the team currently has available, Brown will be an instant upgrade. Those plays Seattle ran on Sunday in Clowney’s direction hoping they would be able to take advantage of him did not pan out. However, had Brown been in the spot Rees Odhiambo was playing in, things might have gone differently.
What will continue to hinder the Hawks line in the run game is the current configuration of the unit the team is putting on the field. We all know Justin Britt has been the key point around which the line has been built this season and last. However, according to Pete Carroll, with Britt nursing an ankle injury he suffered in Week 7 against the New York Giants, he was unable to generate any power from that part of his body. That led to a situation where the entire interior of the offensive line provided little push in the run game and created a situation where the run game was
anemic dead on arrival.
The interior of the line on Sunday was Ethan Pocic - Justin Britt - Oday Aboushi, and while this configuration has provided the best pass protection thus far this season for Russell Wilson, both Pocic and Aboushi are far superior in pass protection than in the running game. This is visible in watching tape on each of them, as they are both able to engage, control and anchor when pass protecting, but at this neither of them is a punishing blocker with the power to drive most defenders. This lack of power was evidenced over and over in the run game both against the Giants and Texans, where Pocic and Aboushi would repeatedly engage a defender and force them down the line, but could not create enough drive to push the defender around.
When Chris Carson was having success in the run game early in the year, it was often behind Luke Joeckel and Britt, who created a respectable force at left guard and center. The creases these two created have disappeared, however, with Joeckel out and Britt hurting. There are things Joeckel is able to do in run blocking that Pocic simply is not able to do at this point in his career.
Thus, there are multiple factors should help Seattle improve their run game between now and the end of the season. The first is Brown coming in and taking over as a force at left tackle. On top of that, Britt should continue to heal and his performance is likely to improve as he recovers from his ankle injury and regains strength and the ability to push defenders around. Lastly, as the team moves towards Thanksgiving and into December, Joeckel should become available to step in at left guard, where his experience and strength should slide in between Brown and Britt with ease. If Joeckel does take over at that spot, then it is possible that Pocic could take over on the right side, but with neither Aboushi nor Pocic providing significant push in the run game, there isn't an urgent need to evaluate the right side of the line.
In short, between Sunday’s game against the Texans and the early December matchup against the Philadelphia Eagles, the Seahawks should see an upgrade at LT, LG and C, and those upgrades should combine to produce a far better running game than the team has seen so far in 2017.
Obviously there could be delays in the timing of these developments as the team continues to play with the configuration of the offensive line in the coming weeks and players learn to work with those lining up next to them, but regardless of who is on the line, the team has shown that it fully understands the opportunity to win a second Super Bowl is at hand this season, and it will pull out all the stops in order to make the team a Lombardi winner once again.