With the versatility of many of the players on the offensive line of the Seattle Seahawks, many fans have wondered what the configuration of the line will look like in 2018. At the present moment the only opening on the line that ended the 2018 line is at left guard, the position free agent Luke Joeckel occupied during 2017.
There are multiple candidates for the opening already on the roster, including Jordan Roos, Ethan Pocic and Rees Odhiambo, while some have even suggested moving George Fant to right tackle in order to flip Germain Ifedi to left guard. In short, the possibilities are limited only by the imagination of fans, and that leads back to a question that has been debated time and time again here on Field Gulls: how hard is it for a player to flip from one side of the line to another?
We all remember the fiasco that was the safety Russell Wilson took against the Atlanta Falcons in the 2016 playoffs, and that play was a direct result of a player who is accustomed to playing on the left side attempting to flip to the right.
Russ is tripped by his own lineman into the end zone.— NFL (@NFL) January 14, 2017
2 POINTS! #SEAvsATL #NFLPlayoffs https://t.co/y882OXGwzO
For those who are unaware or who don’t have the stomach to watch that replay, here is a still so I can force this upon you.
Tripped up. #SEAvsATL pic.twitter.com/OWioiUyuoS— FOX Sports: NFL (@NFLonFOX) January 14, 2017
It’s not hard to spot Odhiambo’s left foot on top of Wilson’s right foot, but why did that happen? For those who do not recall, Germain Ifedi was the regular right guard for the 2016 season, but he suffered an ankle injury early in the playoff loss to Atlanta and had to leave the game. As a result, Odhiambo was playing at right guard when that play transpired. Why is that important?
It is important because Odhiambo had predominantly played on the left side of the line throughout his college career, and had limited experience on the right side. That is key because an offensive lineman - especially a guard - should always take their first step with their outside foot. This prevents their first step from coming down on the foot of the quarterback and leading to a sack, as everybody saw happen to Russ against Atlanta.
This week new Miami Dolphins guard Josh Sitton weighed in on the discussion when he was asked about flipping sides as an offensive lineman.
Josh Sitton just said playing RG instead of familiar LG is like "trying to wipe your ass with the other hand."— Armando Salguero (@ArmandoSalguero) March 16, 2018
Some might find that a bit offensive, but it gets the point across rather effectively. I know this from personal experience, as it was less than two and a half years ago that I had the tip of one of my fingers on my dominant hand nearly bitten off by a dog and sewn back on. That led to me having to use my off hand for several weeks while the finger healed, and I can assure you it’s not a fun experience.
In any case, it’s simply another piece of information to keep in mind when discussing the offensive line between now and training camp, which is something I’m sure we’ll find time to do over the next four months.