The Seattle Seahawks passing attack has thrived under Geno Smith, who’s one of the NFL’s great career turnaround stories in recent memory. What’s undoubtedly helped Geno perform at a high level is the play of the offensive line, which features two rookie tackles in Charles Cross and Abe Lucas, and a third-year guard (second-year left guard) Damien Lewis.
Preseason predictions factored in the belief that the Seahawks OL wouldn’t look good and one particular outlet ranked them at rock bottom in June. Offensive line play isn’t exactly easy to measure but based on the weighting of PFF and ESPN’s metrics, they’re in the upper half of the NFL.
Pass protection rankings according to my made up set of weights between PFF (charting) and ESPN (player tracking) pic.twitter.com/fnb64jVBlx— Computer Cowboy (@benbbaldwin) November 1, 2022
Against the New York Giants, Wink Martindale blitzed Geno on 42% of his dropbacks, which is unsurprising because the Giants blitz about 40% of the time regardless of who they face. The real story was how the Seahawks OL fared against fifth overall pick Kayvon Thibodeaux. It took three weeks for the rookie out of Oregon to get onto the field due to a preseason injury, but his start was promising.
Kayvon Thibodeaux's first NFL game was in Week 3.— NFL on CBS (@NFLonCBS) October 18, 2022
Since then, he's registered 12 pressures.
No rookie has more over that span. pic.twitter.com/4OtlC3IHM2
Against the Seahawks, facing fellow rookies Cross and Lucas (a fellow Pac-12 alum at Washington State), Thibodeaux was held in check. PFF gave him three pressures and one QB hit (when Geno Smith threw the go-ahead TD to Tyler Lockett).
Big Blue View’s Nick Falato compiled all of Thibodeaux’s pass rushing snaps, and what stands out is how well Abe Lucas in particular handled him. There are some plays where the ball is coming out in a nanosecond so no one factors, but there were more than enough opportunities for Thibodeaux to get after Smith and he was a relative non-factor. We even saw both Will Dissly and Kenneth Walker III both chip him and he’s not close enough to bother Geno on his touchdown pass to DK Metcalf.
Kayvon Thibodeaux's pass rushing reps from Sunday's loss against Seattle pic.twitter.com/qMXH90u9C4— Nick Falato (@nickfalato) November 1, 2022
Smith was sacked three times in the first half and none in the second, by the way.
This comes a week after the far more experienced Khalil Mack, one of the game’s great pass rushers, could only muster a fumble recovery on the Dee Eskridge dropped toss. He ended up with just a single pressure for his worst performance all season.
Khalil Mack was graded as the defense's third-worst player against the Seahawks (47.8.)— Joey BOO-sa (@ZoneTracks) October 24, 2022
It was his first game all year with less than than 3 pressures (1) and his first with a game grade under 60.0. By far his worst marks across the board.
We’ve had a lot of complaints about this offensive line that stretch as far back to when Steve Hutchinson left. They only grew louder when Luke Joeckel and J’Marcus Webb and Bradley Sowell were getting starts. It is extremely encouraging watching this group under the direction of new OL coach Andy Dickerson. The good has easily outweighed the bad and they’re a major reason why the Seahawks have one of the league’s top offenses.