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Seahawks LT Duane Brown hasn’t always performed at a high level

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Wild Card Round - Seattle Seahawks v Dallas Cowboys Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images

Football season officially got back underway on Thursday, at least in terms of there being an actual “game” for fans to watch, as the Denver Broncos and the Atlanta Falcons took the field for the Hall of Fame game. For those who tuned in to watch the game, it was a sharp reminder of the difference between starter level performance at the quarterback position and their backups.

That all said, it gave Denver Broncos fans their first game action glimpses of second round draft pick Drew Lock. Lock is the third quarterback on which the Broncos have spent a first or second round pick in the time since Peyton Manning signed with the team in the spring of 2012, with the first two, Paxton Lynch and Brock Osweiler, not finding much success so far during their NFL careers. Lock’s performance, 7-11, 34 yards and two sacks, was unimpressive even by the low standards for rookie quarterbacks and Denver Head Coach Vic Fangio had less than glowing reviews for him after the game.

For those who might be shocked to see a coach speak so negatively about a rookie since that is not the norm in Seattle where youngsters are coached up through positive words from coaches to the media, this is not the first time Fangio has been critical of Lock in recent weeks. A week into camp Fangio had the following to say about Lock’s development and current status.

Basically, as far as Fangio is concerned, the spread offense in which Lock played at Missouri did very little to prepare him for what he will be asked to do in the NFL. This is very standard of players from multiple positions who enter the NFL after having played in a spread offense in college, and even for players who don’t come out of a spread offense.

For example, while most Seahawks fans will readily agree that Duane Brown is a great left tackle, and provides a level of protection for Russell Wilson far better than most tackles, that wasn’t always the case. To provide a few examples of how much things have changed for Brown since his early days with the Houston Texans, let’s take a quick look at what some old Battle Red Blog posts can share with us on Brown.

Well, that’s certainly not flattering for Brown. What else is there to find?

So, Brown is hard on himself and feels bad when he lets his teammates down. Sounds like another tackle on the Seahawks roster who also happened to be drafted in the first round.

Well, at least he didn’t get abused more frequently and/or worse than he did. Wait, are we talking about Brown or Germain Ifedi?

Wait, what? Brown had problems with simple speed rushers?

That one is extremely amusing simply because if I looked hard enough through the comments section on Field Gulls I could probably find something almost identical having been written about a younger Ifedi or even Justin Britt.

I think it’s fair to state that Seahawks fans obsess over any offensive lineman’s beatings at the hands of OL Destroyer Aaron Donald. In any case, today Brown is widely considered one of the best LTs in the NFL, however, that wasn’t always the case. Back in 2009 he was considered by many Texans fans to be at the opposite end of the spectrum.

Wait, “the poor pass protection and the high number of penalties”? Are we still talking about Brown or did we slip back into complaining about Ifedi? An improved Ifedi in 2019 could give the Hawks a chance at having one of the best tackle tandems in the NFL, and even Brown feels the Seattle line has the chance to be the best offensive line in the league. That wasn’t the case a decade ago, when Brown was one of the two tackles who comprised one of the worst tackle tandems in the league in pass protection.

The point of this post is not to say that Ifedi will most certainly improve to perform at Brown’s level, either this season or at some point in the future. It is simply to point out that the struggles Ifedi - and other linemen across the league - have had are not unique. Players take time to develop, and even those drafted in the first round often struggle for their first few seasons.

It’s obviously difficult to compare the metrics for Brown and Ifedi across their first three seasons in the league because of the fact that Ifedi spent the 2016 season at guard rather than tackle. However, keeping that in mind, here’s how each of the Hawks two tackles performed during those first three seasons.

Metrics for Duane Brown and Germain Ifedi during their first three seasons in NFL

Category Duane Brown Germain Ifedi
Category Duane Brown Germain Ifedi
Snaps 2695 3038
Pass Blocking Snaps 1632 1847
Sacks Allowed* 25.5 18.5
Sacks Allowed** 23 15
Snaps per Sack* 64 99.8
Snaps per Sack** 71.0 123.1
Pressures Allowed 133 124
Snaps per Pressure 20.3 14.9
False Start 12 21
Snaps per False Start 224.6 144.7
*STATS methodology
**Pro Football Focus methodology

Again, the fact that both Brown and Ifedi saw their careers start off with struggles does nothing to predict the future. It simply shows that the learning curve which Ifedi is ascending hopefully has a trajectory similar to that of Brown.