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Offensive Lines

Seahawks blowing up line

Protection poor, but ground game was strong

The Seahawks weren't that far from being a Super Bowl team last year. But for a last-minute, Week 17 defeat to San Francisco, they'd have been NFC West champs and the higher playoff seed. So it's a little surprising that they're virtually starting over on the offensive line.

In the last few days, they've cut starting center Justin Britt and starting guard D.J. Fluker. They let starting tackle Germain Ifedi leave in free agency, as well as backup George Fant. The line will have at least three new starters in 2020.

Perhaps third-rounder Damien Lewis will fill one guard spot, while Joey Hunt -- who replaced an injured Britt last year -- will be serviceable at center. But the noteworthy free agent addition was former Jet tackle Brandon Shell. Shell wasn't a strength on a bad line a year ago, so unlikely he'll be an improvement over Ifedi.

Seattle does bring back Duane Brown, solidifying the left tackle spot, and Mike Iupati, who will probably start at left guard. But Iupati was iffy (and dealt with a neck injury late in the year), while the other three spots look suspect. Maybe Seattle still hopes to add a veteran? As is, it's hard to see how this line will be improved, or even as good as it was a year ago.

Russell Wilson got sacked 48 times a year ago, so you can argue, "What should Seattle be clinging to?" Maybe those protection issues are behind the overhaul.

But some of those sacks are on Wilson, who tends to try and extend plays, scrambling around and hoping something develops, rather than get rid of it. Sometimes it works; no knock on Wilson. But it's not as if he was completely under siege on pass plays either.

And the run-blocking on last year's line was very good. Seattle ranked 4th in rushing offense, and 5th even if you remove quarterback scrambling from the equation.

TEAM RUSHING, 2019 (RUNNING BACKS ONLY)
RkTeamAttYdsAvgTD
1San Francisco42720514.8019
2Minnesota42920024.6717
3Baltimore39319544.9714
4Indianapolis39918324.5913
5Seattle39618204.6012
6Dallas38718124.6814
7Tennessee36817754.8216
8Cleveland35817434.8712
9Oakland39916994.2610
10Philadelphia38616844.3614
11Green Bay35615824.4417
12New England40015603.9014
13Houston34215304.478
14Carolina31515254.8417
15Denver36015204.2211
16New Orleans33315154.5510
17Buffalo34014474.264
18LA Chargers34013994.1112
19Detroit35313853.926
20Washington31513714.357
21Cincinnati33113073.955
22tArizona28012924.6114
22tKansas City31112924.1513
24Jacksonville30912874.173
25Pittsburgh34412863.747
26NY Giants30112794.259
27LA Rams33412683.8017
28Tampa Bay34012213.5914
29Atlanta31511713.729
30Chicago31911353.566
31NY Jets34411333.293
32Miami2818332.965

With the changes, maybe Wilson will wind up enjoying better protection. But I wonder if the ground game will be as good.

--Andy Richardson

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