The offensive line of the Seattle Seahawks was believed by many to be a strength heading into the 2019 season. The line had appeared to better protect Russell Wilson in the passing game and had opened holes for Chris Carson, Mike Davis and Rashaad Penny in the running game in 2018, and with four of five starters returning, there was plenty of optimism among fans. Left tackle Duane Brown even went on record during OTAs, stating his belief that the Hawks line could prove to be the best in the NFL this season.
Unfortunately for Russell Wilson, and Seattle fans, the Hawks line was handled by the Cincinnati Bengals for much of the Week 1 game, leading to Wilson being heavily pressured when dropping back and the run game sputtering for much of the day. With a 10 AM start on tap against the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 2, things are set up for the possibility of continued struggles by the line. For starters, while the Pittsburgh defense was easily handled by the New England Patriots in the season opener, Pittsburgh finished 2018 with the number 8 run defense by DVOA in the NFL. The defensive unit is under the same defensive coordinator and has six of seven of the starters from the team’s front seven returning, with Jonathon Bostic replaced by rookie Devin Bush.
Add in the fact that the Steelers defense finished tied for the league lead in sacks with 52 and finished second with 115 quarterback hits during 2018, and it could be a long day in the pocket for Wilson. And just to make matters worse, the offensive line is not in the best physical shape heading into the game, with five of the nine offensive linemen on the roster on the injury report for Wednesday.
So, for those keeping watch at home, neither of the centers on the 53 man roster practiced Wednesday, with Joey Hunt still feeling the effects of a high ankle sprain and Justin Britt dealing with the knee injury suffered against the Bengals. Add in Mike Iupati’s injuries that kept him off the field for all of preseason and knee and ankle injuries for Brown and Fant, respectively, and it’s a scary list. It wouldn’t be a surprise to possibly see the Hawks shuffle the roster on Saturday in the lead up to the game in order to add some depth on the interior of the offensive line, but we’ll have to see how the injury report looks on both Thursday and Friday first.
In any case, it’s the NFL and it’s only Week 2, but let’s hope that the offensive line can get healthy and stay healthy for the Hawks the rest of the season.