When it comes to the issue of Germain Ifedi, I quickly jump to his defense. Some would argue perhaps too quick. Some would say I even start defending him before the ball is snapped and that I hold onto my Ifedi opinion too tightly. But don’t hurry or hit me for saying that Ifedi is a “fine” option at right tackle.
Because my opinion is not that Ifedi is good compared to other offensive linemen, but my belief has been that he’s good relative to other right tackles. This feels like a common sense answer to me because I believe these two things to be true:
- If you’re a good offensive tackle, you are more likely to play on the left side. There are no left-handed quarterbacks in the NFL, so we know that in most situations the player protecting the QBs blind side — the left tackle — is meant to be the better of the two tackles on your line. Usually. So in order to get to the best right tackles in the NFL, you’re probably already conceding that of the top 15-20 tackles in the league, 90% of them play on the left side. Exceptions like Lane Johnson are in exceptional situations. Therefore when you get to listing all 32 right tackles at any given time, you’re likely not starting with the best tackle in the league, you’re starting with a guy like Johnson and then you’re talking about guys who among all tackles overall, would be ranked 30th and lower.
- All offensive linemen, as a whole, seem to be struggling more than they used to relative to previous offensive lines and I tend to agree with the theory that this starts at the high school level. Talented big guys prefer to play defense than offense. I think this should swing back the other way, maybe it already has started to, but I believe the defensive lines are better than the offensive lines. So Ifedi should look worse because there might be more teams with 2-3 exceptional edge rushers than there are teams with exceptional tackles.
If I had to add a third reason to build off of that, it would be that playing tackle might be more difficult than playing defensive line in today’s NFL. Given the increased rate of passing the ball and that pass blocking is not usually the strong suit of a Pete Carroll offensive line as compared to a focus on run blocking, Ifedi may be doing what is asked of him and failing at what was not expected of him.
No matter the quality of Ifedi though and my excuses for his play, I believe the Seahawks will be replacing him in 2020. The problem is that if I’m right and Ifedi is an average or above average right tackle based on most teams having problems at right tackle, not only will Ifedi get paid a lot in free agency, but so will George Fant. It’s an issue that our own John Gilbert has written about several times before and increases the likelihood that Jamarco Jones could be starting their next season.
That’s not something that worries most fans. Most would like to see Jones replace Ifedi right now. But that’s not going to happen and Pete does not have many negative things to see about Ifedi. Not nearly as many as you may have to say and maybe not as many as a writer or blogger would have to say about Ifedi. And that got me wondering:
What would a writer or blogger of all 32 teams have to say about the right tackle situation on the team that they cover?
During all this time of me saying, without any proof, that “most people would complain about their right tackle,” I kind of just accepted my reason to be accurate. And that’s not the type of writer I want to be. Since reading and picking up notes from Jeff Sullivan at Lookout Landing over a decade ago, I’ve learned to never say I know anything unless I really know something. I am careful to say, “I believe” or “I think” unless it’s a fact. My opinion of the league’s right tackles is not close to a fact. And neither are the 32 responses below. But it’s a lot more accurate than my loose grip on “common sense.”
Instead, I leave it up the voices of SB Nation. I asked all 31 other blog managers (or in some cases, a writer from that site) to answer one question and I got 31 answers. Plus my own!
Can you sum up your right tackle situation this season in one sentence?
Here’s what they said. Now you can start holding me accountable for my opinion on Ifedi.
(+ means the situation seems good, - means it seems bad, and a / means it’s “so so”)
AFC East: 0 of 4 situations are great, New England might be best off with a “fine” right tackle.
AFC North: 2 of 4 situations look good, and two are quite bad.
(-)Titans, Music City Miracles: The Titans will be looking for a right tackle after the season with Jack Conklin currently playing on the last year of his rookie contract because the team didn’t pick up his 5th year option.
AFC South: A good, a bad, and two negatives. The “good” in Jacksonville is still mostly potential and speculation.
AFC West: Half and half.
AFC: I count 5 +, 7 -, and 4 “so so” situations
(-)Washington, Hogs Haven: Morgan Moses should look into changing his name to Grabby McHolderson
NFC East: Half and half again. You could maybe argue that NYG and WAS are “so so” though.
NFC North: Looks like maybe two positive, a negative, and a so-so. Wagner may be a positive though.
NFC South: For this season, I’m counting the Falcons as a negative. Even if you’re a first round rookie, you’re still a rookie unless you’re playing like Jack Conklin. Who was an All-Pro as a rookie and then didn’t have his fifth-year option picked up. Carolina’s endorsement also isn’t much of an endorsement.
(-)Seahawks, Field Gulls: Dependable enough to start in 2019, bad enough to replace in 2020.
(-)Rams, Turf Show Times: Similarly to the offensive line as a whole, Los Angeles Rams RT Rob Havenstein has disappointed this year, but his resume since 2015 suggests he should peform better in the second half of the season.
(-)Cardinals, Revenge of the Birds: You know your right tackle situation is bad when you’re on your 4th right tackle since training camp began and playing your starting left guard there is an upgrade.
NFC West: San Francisco is the only team with a good right tackle in the division this season even though the Rams paid Havenstein a lot of money. I’d have to rank having Ifedi and his relatively low salary as the second-best RT situation in the West. Overall the conference has a few great right tackles, then I think Ifedi is somewhere in the next level, and then a number of really bad ones.
AFC: I count 8 -, 7 +, and one “so so.” It’s feast or famine at right tackle in the NFC.
NFL: For my count, it’s 15 of 32 teams that have a bad situation at right tackle, 12 of 32 teams that are definitely well off right now, and 5 teams that could go either way. Of course, this is also a loose evaluation by me and to start picking nits on the numbers ... is totally acceptable. It’s still just very nitpicky because I’m not saying that I’ve solved the tackle crisis or found an answer to how many good and bad right tackles there are.
Based on my survey though, I’m confident that about half the NFL is “bad” at right tackle and I’d say based on my watching of the Seahawks every week that Ifedi rarely stands out to me positively or negatively. We judge a few bad plays and then typically ignore whatever happens on the other 50+ snaps. I’d hardly say “poop emoji” or “one of the worst” I’ve ever seen. Ifedi has started more games than they typical late first round offensive lineman pick and he’s also lacking enough to be replaced next season.
That’s about where things stand with Seattle’s right tackle situation. I’d adjust my opinion slightly based on this survey: There are more teams with very good-to-great right tackles than I suspected. There are also a lot of teams that will be scrambling to reassess or replace their right tackles next year, including the Seahawks.
I may defend Ifedi, but I am also doing my best to form a more complete opinion by listening to the opinion of those around the league, so don’t penalize me for it.