It’s no secret the Seattle Seahawks have struggled to protect Russell Wilson. Last year their offensive line ranked 25th in the NFL in pass protection per Football Outsiders, allowing Wilson to be sacked a total of 43 times; a deeper look at FO shows that the pressure rate allowed on Wilson was 36.9%, tied with the Colts and Texans for worst in the NFL. While this blame shouldn’t solely fall on the shoulders of Germain Ifedi, he certainly has not been what Seattle was hoping for when they spent their first round pick on him in 2016; and in addition to the Seahawks’ protection issues, Ifedi racked up 16 penalties, the most in the league.
It could be time to explore other options at right tackle.
Ifedi was taken 31st overall just two drafts ago. I can understand not wanting to give up on such a high pick, but between 2016 and 2017 there should have been some significant improvement in Ifedi’s game, change in position from guard to tackle notwithstanding. And that noticeable progression was missing last year.
Maybe there’s hope for Ifedi to have a breakout season after settling in at tackle and perhaps he will benefit from a change of scheme and guidance; veteran left tackle Duane Brown says with Tom Cable gone, Ifedi will thrive under new offensive line coach Mike Solari. “I think just in the short time I’ve been here, he’s matured a lot and I expect a big season from him,” Brown said.
Likewise, Pete Carroll expects another season at right tackle in the NFL for Ifedi, adding to the time he spent there at Texas A&M, to play a part in developing beyond the poor play shown the last two seasons. And let’s hope so because this had become far too familiar of a scene for the Seahawks offensive line last season:
This is just a simple 4-man rush by ATL, with one-on-one out on the edge. Germain Ifedi can't handle his assignment. This is poor execution that the Seahawks and film junkies have seen consistently throughout his career. The o-line is the main problem for SEA's struggles on O. pic.twitter.com/Tw910iashl— C.J. Tumbarello (@TumbarelloHB) November 25, 2017
The video illustrates one of Ifedi’s major weaknesses, which is that he doesn’t always get his first block secured and uses his hands to snatch at the pass rusher when he should be using his legs for power and drive and squaring himself in front of his man.
Though Seattle seems set with their starting five right now — and that’s a good thing — Ifedi could still be competing for the job against George Fant who missed last season with a torn ACL, as well as rookie Jamarco Jones and third-year tackle Willie Beavers — both of whom have looked promising in camp so far. Personally, I think Jones is set up to have a exciting rookie campaign. Though mostly played at LT at Ohio State, Jones is a force of nature, and uses his full body to stop the pass rush:
Seahawks select T Jamarco Jones with the 168th pick#NFLDraft pic.twitter.com/fdp1y3Zd9W— Bleacher Report NFL (@BR_NFL) April 28, 2018
Though Carroll has been gushing about Ifedi’s potential this year, my guess is that maybe he feels that Fant, Jones, and Beavers aren’t suitable options ... yet. He may not want to throw Jones directly into the fire like he has with offensive line rookies in the past, and Fant still has a question mark around his health.
“Oh gosh, he’s another one of those guys who is just going to totally blossom, is what we’re expecting,” Carroll told reporters. “You guys have heard it year after year, the big jump comes from year one to year two.”
The Seahawks will certainly give him the first shot, it’s just a matter of whether or not any of those options can take advantage of an opportunity should Ifedi falter or slip up during preseason and training camp. It’s important to note that with offensive line jobs, where you start plays a huge factor in where you finish; it’s hard to get taken off of the first team barring an injury or obvious holes in the game, and coaches don’t tend to take as many chances when it comes to replacing the guys who protect the quarterback. It also has a lot to do with the chemistry of the first team unit and Ifedi has the advantage of 29 starts in two seasons, a notable sum and the second-most of anyone on the line outside of Justin Britt. But if Ifedi does give an opportunity to Fant, Jones, or Beavers, there’s a chance he may not come back.
At the rate that he’s been developing so far, I don’t expect many positive changes from him this season. I hope he proves me wrong.