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Seahawks offensive line notebook: Grading the Cardinals loss

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Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

I re-watched the Seahawks' loss to the Cardinals five or six times (yes, it was painful) and graded each offensive lineman, one at a time. If I had to rank the Offensive Line for the Cardinals game, I would go as such:

(1) Russell Okung
(2) Garry Gilliam
(3) Patrick Lewis & J.R. Sweezy
(4) Justin Britt
(5) Alvin Bailey

These grades are slanted more toward pass pro than the run game, but include penalties and pressures. It was an easier game for the Tackles, partly because the edge players for the Cardinals are not their strength -- the better players on their defensive line are Calais Campbell and Frostee Rucker. When you factor in the blitz component, I think it was an easier game for the Tackles than the Interior players.

As a comparison, I think versus Dallas, the better players for the Cowboys are probably their edge players. I was not impressed with their interior DL. Britt and Sweezy had very good games against Dallas, but again- - faced a very low number of blitzes and faced lesser competition.

Let's go player-by-player. 

Okung: I just felt he played in control and knew what to do on almost every play, and was able to control his man for the most part. On the last drive, I felt he was false starting more than once, but it was not called. I also graded him the highest of the OL against San Francisco, and versus Dallas he did not play with the sprained ankle.

Gilliam: Of the three games I have watched, this was Gilliam's best game. He gave up pressure to Dwight Freeney on 3rd and 15 early in the game, but besides that, I didn't notice any other mistakes. His run game is "ok," but not a liability. This was an encouraging game, because against the Niners and Cowboys I had him graded near the bottom of the OL (with the caveat that I didn't think he was playing that poorly, just not as well as the rest of the line in those games).

In those other games he was giving up 3-to-4 "minus" type plays, while the rest of the line were giving up fewer of those. He also missed time in-game versus the 49ers, but when Bailey came in in relief, he struggled even worse.

Lewis: The Seahawks did not lose this game because of bad center play. I don't think Lewis is a good player, but he was not the problem. I didn't notice a bunch of errant snaps. Perhaps the worst pressure he gave up was on the Intentional Grounding play in the 4th quarter where he was singled up. He was also walked back when he was singled up early in the game, and had one poor targeting play on the 2nd level. Overall though, he was fine.

Sweezy: I could not really see the holding penalty in the 2nd half that killed off one of Seattle's drives. I watched it from three different angles, and it was not apparent to me -- all the other big penalties I was able to spot. Seemed like a ticky tack call to me.

Sweezy gave up pressure on the first play of the game (Wilson hits Lockett for short). I also think he gave up pressure about 2-to-3 other times. The other bad one was on the interception Wilson threw downfield looking for Baldwin, he is clearly beaten and could be one reason why Wilson perhaps drops his eyes. I still put the interception on Wilson, but the pressure did not help. I saw one or two other pressures, but I think in lower leverage type situations. He is still a nice run player, but not a priority re-sign in my opinion.

Britt: Britt had two penalties, a holding penalty early in the game, and a false start late in the game. Seattle was able to overcome the false start and score a field goal, but was in the late-game catchup type situation (down 10 points and AZ knows you need an onside kick to win).

The holding penalty killed off a drive, and was a blatant hold on penetration on a Lynch run. He allowed pressure to Campbell when singled up, but Wilson was able to scramble and hit Graham in the 3rd quarter for a long gain. Britt really struggled on twists. On one twist coming from the middle, he failed to pick up the defender. On another twist coming from the outside, Okung is telling him to let go of his man to swap but he does not let go and the defender goes up the middle. On another twist he gets knocked down (but at least he picked it up).

Bailey: I had him in for two snaps at left tackle, and he gave up pressure on one of the snaps. Not good.

****

For reference- this is how I ranked the OL in the previous two games:

Dallas:

Britt
Sweezy
Bailey
Nowak
Gilliam (this Gilliam game is not as bad as Britt's game vs Arizona, in comparison)

San Francisco:

Okung
Sweezy
Britt
Nowak
Gilliam
Bailey

****

Early Thoughts Going Forward:

No one is sure what the Seahawks' offensive identity is going to be going forward (into 2016), but at this point I would re-up Russell Okung, no matter which direction they go. I still think Okung is the Seahawks' best offensive lineman, from the games I have watched. Also, to replace him would require high draft capital, when you could probably find additions for the other four line positions at lower draft slots on Day 1 and Day 2.

I would still draft a center somewhere on Day 1 or Day 2. I don't believe Seattle thinks Lewis or Nowak are the answers long-term. Why would you not want to find exceptionally high center play for your offense -- no matter the identity?

In terms of Sweezy, I would not make him a priority re-sign. If Seattle did choose to re-sign him, I would not be upset, but not someone I would chase. I think Mark Glowinski was the best offensive lineman the Seahawks drafted in 2015, and his natural position is Right Guard.

I think the other high draft target for Seattle would be a T/G type player who can play Right Tackle or Left Guard (like James Carpenter or Justin Britt, but better). I think there are players like that in every draft - not athletic enough to play Left Tackle, but can be a solid or great player at either Right Tackle or Left Guard. You can let this player battle it out with Britt and Gilliam and let the best two play. For the right player, a high Day 1 or Day 2 Draft pick is more than worthy.

I will keep watch on the OL in this format for the rest of the season and will keep sending you notes on my findings. Stay tuned.