But that should come as no surprise. Coach Pete Carroll and offensive line coach Tom Cable are satisfied with the steps the unheralded unit has taken, knowing it was always going to take half the season for Russell Okung, Justin Britt, Drew Nowak, J.R. Sweezy and Garry Gilliam to jell.
“They’re growing and they’re working at it hard,” Carroll said, leading up to the game against the Detroit Lions. “Their confidence is gaining and we’re going to see them continue to improve. I don’t think we’re going to know for another four, five weeks, maybe the halfway point of the season.”
Cable has said several times that this is the most talented group of linemen he has coached.
“I still think they’re going to be the best group (he has had),” he told 710 ESPN last week. “All they’ve done in three games now is get better and better and better.”
Since an expectedly horrendous game in St. Louis, the unit has played better the past two weeks.
“We knew that they were not going to be a finished product … starting the season off,” Carroll said, “but we do like their approach and their toughness and the mentality about learning and the discipline that they’re trying to generate in their play. They’ve got all the right stuff to make up a good group, so it’s just time. This is a very difficult aspect of our game. Offensive line stuff is the most complicated, and they’re just working through it.”
They were especially good running the ball in the second half of the 26-0 win over the Chicago Bears last week, with Thomas Rawls gaining 98 of his 104 yards. Ahead of the Detroit game, the Seahawks ranked fifth in the league at 134 yards per game and tied for third at 4.7 yards per carry.
“We’ve always been one of the top rushing teams,” Cable said. “We don’t feel like we’re there yet, and we’re already a top rushing team.”
But the Seahawks have given up 12 sacks, tied for second most in the league, and Cable said, “Our biggest issue right now is keeping them off the quarterback.”
The sacks have not all been on the offensive line. Quarterback Russell Wilson has sometimes not gotten rid of the ball quickly enough — or has been caught short of the line of scrimmage while scrambling. The receivers have not gotten open enough, tight end Jimmy Graham has let some guys get past, and offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell has chosen to use three receivers more often than two tight ends or two running backs.
Cable said the offense is “getting closer” to fixing the pass protection problems.
As for the development of the front five, Cable said it requires patience.
“One of the biggest mistakes people make in football — whether it’s coaches or fans — (is) you want everything to be right now,” he said. “Even with the successes we’ve had over the last few years, there’s still a process of development for your entire football team. To come out Day 1 and say everything’s rosy and perfect and all that is pretty ludicrous.”
He said this quintet is farther ahead of recent squads and should look pretty good if it stays healthy and playing together.
“If we get there in a month, six weeks, two months, whatever it takes,” Cable said, “and by the end we’re one of the best teams, that’s all that really matters.
“I can’t wait for them to really come together, because it’s going to be a lot of fun.”
For previous status reports on the offensive line, check out the new offensive line page.