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Seahawks offensive line review against the Chiefs and why I’m more optimistic now

NFL: Kansas City Chiefs at Seattle Seahawks Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Part 3 of a series of an in-depth look at how the Seattle Seahawks’ offensive line is faring in pass protection in preseason games.

In last week’s piece, I expressed concerns over the high pressure rate allowed. How did they do this week against the Kansas City Chiefs? Below are the 27 Russell Wilson dropbacks of Seattle’s preseason game against the Chiefs shown at 80% speed.

Play numbers can be found in upper right. Notes from each play are below. In addition to general notes, I will pay special attention to RT. After each pressure, I will give the number of pressures we’ve seen to that point and assign primary blame. For example, (2: Oday Aboushi) on play 7 below means it’s the 2nd pressure given up in the game and it was primarily due to Aboushi.

It looks like starters for 4 of the 5 positions on the line are set. The remaining open competition is at right guard, where Aboushi was in for plays 1-7 and 21-27 and Mark Glowinski for plays 8-20.

  1. Play action. Defender splits Aboushi/Justin Britt and applies a pressure (1: Britt)
  2. Good protection
  3. Good protection
  4. Defender instantly splits Britt/Luke Joeckel but gets fooled by the play action and chases Chris Carson.
  5. Great protection
  6. This one is kind of borderline. Defender loops around Ifedi and forces Wilson to step up but he still has a lot of time
  7. An ineffective chip attempt by J.D. McKissic and Aboushi getting beat causes a pressure (2: Aboushi) but again it’s borderline
  8. Good initial protection
  9. Good protection
  10. Good protection
  11. Good protection
  12. Good protection
  13. Good protection
  14. Good protection
  15. Good protection
  16. Pocket gets collapsed around Wilson by pressure off the edges. Going to count this as a pressure (3: Germain Ifedi)
  17. Jimmy Graham chip help for Rees Odhiambo. Good protection
  18. Good protection
  19. Good protection. The video quality in this clip is terrible because CBS has the worst production quality and they were late coming back from a commercial so they showed a red zone play in a little box in the corner of a screen
  20. Good protection
  21. Good protection. Watch Carson picking up a blitzer on the bottom of the screen. Very impressive
  22. Graham gives chip help to Ifedi. Good protection
  23. Borderline because Wilson has to step up in the pocket but he still gets the ball off cleanly so not calling this a pressure
  24. Also borderline. Wilson could have hung in the pocket longer here or dumped the ball off to Carson earlier. Still calling this a pressure (4: Ifedi x2)
  25. Great protection
  26. The bad Odhiambo sack allowed (5: Odhiambo)
  27. Protection good enough for screen pass

It is somewhat difficult to say whether some of these plays should count as a pressure due to Wilson’s mobility, but by my count, I total 5 pressures in 27 dropbacks, or 18.5%. This is a substantial improvement from Week 2 against the Vikings, where I calculated a 44% pressure rate. But regardless of the exact number, things do appear to be trending in the right direction. Odhiambo held up just fine in his starting debut at left tackle, and my concerns about Ifedi at right tackle have been somewhat assuaged.

While this is all good news, there are a couple caveats to keep in mind. As I noted on twitter, the Chiefs were not particularly good at applying pressure to QBs last year, and they were playing without by far their best pass rusher in Justin Houston. They also seemed to be more vanilla in their pass rushing schemes than the Vikings were in Week 2.

Caveats aside, it is better for the line to look good than bad at this stage in the preseason. Having 4 out of 5 starters settled is also encouraging. We will see whether the OL improvement is real or a mirage when they try to block Nick Perry and Clay Matthews to open the season on September 10 in Green Bay.