Entering the 2019 NFL season, hopes were high for Seattle Seahawks right tackle Germain Ifedi. Coming into his fourth year in the league and his third season playing tackle, many fans hoped this would be the year of the breakout in which he put everything together and began to perform at a level commensurate with where he was drafted.
The exact opposite has happened.
Through the first five games of the season, his pass blocking has regressed by every available metric, his run blocking remains questionable and he’s on pace for the second highest number of enforced penalties in his career. The Seahawks have four more games scheduled to be played in the Eastern Time Zone this season, so if the strange pattern of Ifedi drawing multiple flags when he plays on the east coast holds, he could set a personal high for penalties this season.
Thus, the question becomes, what has happened? Where did a player whose development was on track after his first year at tackle go so far off the rails that his metrics are now regressing? In every metric available for offensive linemen, he’s regressing. His PFF grades, for whatever they’re worth are effectively in line with his performance as a rookie. His Pass Block Win Rate (PBWR), which is ESPN’s proprietary metric based on player tracking data has him in the bottom third of tackles.
Ifedi ranks 46th out of 66. Duane Brown is 30th out of 66.— Seth Walder (@SethWalder) October 8, 2019
PBWR is effectively a snapshot of whether an offensive lineman is able to hold a block until the 2.5 second mark after a snap, so the tracking data is saying that 45 of 66 tackles in the NFL are better able to hold a block for 2.5 seconds.
Now, moving to PFF’s Pass Blocking Efficiency, that’s a different story because it doesn’t care about how long the quarterback holds the ball, and players are graded simply based on whether they allowed a pressure or sack, regardless of how long the quarterback sat in the pocket. So, when a quarterback has the seventh slowest release in the NFL, such as Russell Wilson does so far this season, linemen are required to keep that quarterback clean even though he’s making their jobs far, far harder than they should be.
So, where does Ifedi rank in terms of PBE? Dead last. Or, at least tied for dead last.
Of the 72 tackles in the NFL with at least 48 pass blocking snaps this season, Ifedi is tied for dead last in PFF's Pass Blocking Efficiency metric.— John P. Gilbert (@JohnPGilbertNFL) October 8, 2019
He's tied with J'Marcus Webb. https://t.co/LWEdIxX2CT
How low is Ifedi’s PBE this season? Looking at tackles that have played at least 300 snaps in a season, there hasn’t been a tackle who posted a PBE as low as Ifedi’s since 2012. That means by PBE his performance is worse than that of 2017 Rees Odhiambo. It’s worse than 2016 George Fant. In short, it’s bad.
But then why is he still playing? Well, according to Pete Carroll, they’re happy with his play and feel he’s playing the best football of his career.
Pete Carroll on Germain Ifedi: "This is the best he's played." Specifically, Carroll said Ifedi's pass sets are the area he's improved the most.— Brady Henderson (@BradyHenderson) October 9, 2019
Pete Carroll said that Germain Ifedi has been "clearly" playing his best football this season.— Joe Fann (@Joe_Fann) October 9, 2019
"He's the best he's been."
Pete Carroll on RT Germain Ifedi going into him facing Myles Garrett Sunday at Cleveland: "This is the best he's played." Says Ifedi is far more consistent in his pass sets, getting to the right spot with right balance/leverage in time to slow edge rushers. #Seahawks— Gregg Bell (@gbellseattle) October 9, 2019
I had to put multiple tweets from multiple sources there just so that you all would know that I’m not playing around. Pete Carroll actually said Ifedi is playing “the best he’s played” in spite of his NFL leading 25 pressures.
Based on what I know about fans’ thoughts on his performance so far this season, I’m going to guess that a lot of fans are going to disagree rather strongly.