The Seahawks are finally going to have their so-called first-team line together, but that doesn’t figure to help them much as they face another stellar defensive line in New York.
Germain Ifedi hasn’t played an NFL game yet and will be slow to get back into the groove, so we can expect Leonard Williams, Muhammad Wilkerson and Sheldon Richardson to dominate the line of scrimmage the same way Miami and Los Angeles did.
In case you forgot, the Seahawks were horrendous on offense in those two games. They scored just 15 points, ran for just 180 yards (3.2 per carry) and gave up five sacks and 18 hits on Russell Wilson, who sprained an ankle trying to get away from Ndamukong Suh.
Usually one of the league’s best rushing teams, the Hawks have been a middling unit so far with their revamped line going against strong defensive fronts. Even in the blowout of San Francisco, they were barely above average — 127 yards on 31 carries (4.1 average).
Led by Williams, the sixth pick in the 2015 draft, the Jets are the third-ranked run defense in the NFL — much better even than the Dolphins and Rams. So the Hawks are going to go nowhere on the ground in this one either.
Tom Cable just hopes these butt kickings will make his unit better down the road.
“It’s not always fun, but I’m enjoying this growth, this process and this learning that’s going on,” he said, offering the best spin he could muster. “When they come out of it, we’ve always taken off. And we have a chance to take off big time. So we’ll see.”
It’s somewhat fitting that Ifedi, the Hawks’ top pick this year, will make his debut against the team that signed Seattle’s last first-round lineman, James Carpenter. In fact, the Jets added two Seattle linemen in consecutive years — Breno Giacomini in 2014 and Carpenter in 2015 — as the Seahawks deconstructed that unit via free agency. (They will face Carpenter but not Giacomini, who is on PUP.)
The Jets also traded for Ryan Clady this year when the Broncos signed Russell Okung from the Seahawks, who apparently did not show any interest in Clady despite their major need at left tackle.
We’ve already talked about how the Hawks didn’t need to keep any of the guys they let go, including Max Unger and J.R. Sweezy, due to injuries or the limited return they got from them on the field.
We also have pointed out the young all-star unit they could have constructed if they had gone with size over speed in the first two rounds in 2012-14. But that’s water under the bridge.
The Hawks seem to have found able replacements for Carpenter, Unger, Sweezy and Carpenter in Mark Glowinski, Justin Britt and Ifedi. The only glaring hole is at left tackle.
Back in the spring, Cable and Pete Carroll talked about Garry Gilliam taking over. But, they changed their minds during preseason and ended up going with Bradley Sowell. Cable said this week that Sowell was insurance for the team not being able to replace Okung.
Cable also said Sowell is still only 80 percent adapted to Seattle’s zone system and is making plenty of mistakes. As well as Sowell and the line played at times vs. the 49ers, the assistant head coach said Sowell “missed two cut blocks in that game that were big runs. So there’s a step that he hasn’t taken yet.”
The bottom line on Sowell: He’s a limited player who is just filling the spot until the Hawks find a better option. Carroll hinted at what we previously said: Sowell is not guaranteed to keep the job and George Fant could even work his way into the spot eventually. With Ifedi back, it is also possible the coaches try J’Marcus Webb on the left side if Sowell is not able to take another big step.
While the left tackle position figures to remain an intermittent problem all season, and be addressed next offseason, the whole unit should take the lessons from the first month and get better.
“I’m really stuck on that right now,” Cable said. “We just need to continue to grow. And we’re doing that.”
But you almost surely won’t see much of that growth show up in New York, where the O-line figures to be dominated once again.