The final numbers for yards before contact are out for the 2017 NFL season, and as expected the Seattle Seahawks finished near the bottom. However, they did not finish at the absolute bottom, simply very close to it.
Offensive line yards before contact per RB attempt for the 2017 regular season pic.twitter.com/97gdHaS0UU— Jeff Ratcliffe (@JeffRatcliffe) February 7, 2018
In fact, while nowhere near good, the Seahawks line created nearly twice as many yards before contact as the worst offensive line in the league in this category, that of the Miami Dolphins. However, as fans may recall, the Dolphins experienced some unanticipated midseason turmoil with their offensive line coach Chris Foerster, following the leak of a controversial video just weeks into the start of the 2017 season.
Getting back to the numbers, the Seahawks were far worse when attempting to run up the middle compared to when they attempted to run outside, which is not surprising given the configurations the team’s offensive line used through 2017. Ethan Pocic and Oday Aboushi combined to start 19 games over the course of the 2017 season, with post-knee reconstruction Luke Joeckel starting another 11. That is 30 of 32 starts at the guard position coming from players who entered the 2017 season with a known lack of strength or coming off major surgery.
That is obviously not an acceptable excuse for the low level of performance by the team in this area, but it brings to light a question that has been debated among Seahawks fans in recent seasons regarding the offensive line. In particular, who is responsible for scouting and selecting the offensive linemen that the team has drafted or signed via free agency? Further, will things change now that the team has a new offensive line coach in Mike Solari?
During the offseason I’ll be taking a look at the offensive linemen the team has added via the draft and as free agents throughout the John Schneider era as GM in an attempt to discern patterns and clues regarding these questions. Maybe we’ll get some answers and maybe we won’t, but at least we’ll have some fun digging into the data regarding this question. And it will give us something to do in the roughly 23 weeks between now and when training camp opens in late July.