Russell Okung’s walking boot a bad omen for offensive line


Well, this can’t be good. Or maybe it can be, depending on how you look at it. Left tackle Russell Okung missed eight games during the 2013 season with toe issues. His absence forced the Seahawks to take Paul McQuistan out of his natural position to fill in. The results were less than desirable.

That’s why the sight of Okung in a walking boot at his alma mater Oklahoma State this past Saturday was not a welcome one:


Center Max Unger may be the leader of the group, but Okung is the most talented lineman on the team. That’s why John Schneider made him the sixth overall pick in the 2010 NFL Draft. He’s at the top of the pyramid, so if he’s not healthy it bleeds down and affects the rest of the line, which needs all the help it can get.

Regular readers of this blog know the story by now because I’ve harangued enough about the offensive line’s struggles to annoy half of them to death. But let’s recap just how bad they were real quick:

Pass Protection

Pro Football Focus ranked the Seahawks 27th overall in pass protection for 2013

Football Outsiders put them even lower, at dead last in adjusted sack rate

The frightening thing about this is that Russell Wilson escaped so many sacks through his elusiveness that the numbers are probably skewed to make the O line look even better than it actually was.

Run Blocking

– PFF put Seattle at 23rd in run blocking overall

– FO ranked Seattle 32nd in power runs – (Percentage of runs on third or fourth down, two yards or less to go, that achieved a first down or touchdown.)

Those numbers are quite surprising for a team that builds its reputation on the run. It speaks to Marshawn Lynch‘s insane tackle-breaking skills more than anything. Just imagine what he could do if he got adequate blocking!


– PFF ranked Seattle 30th overall in penalties

I don’t have the exact numbers here, but if you watched a Seahawks game at any point in 2013 you were probably peeved by the number of holding and false start flags the O line was responsible for.

You get the idea. Even though we won the Super bowl the offensive line was horrible, and in some aspects, worse than every other offensive line in the NFL, and so far this offseason it hasn’t gotten any better, unless you count addition by the subtraction of McQuistan. Breno Giacomini may have a penchant for penalties, but he’s an adequate blocker and has gone to the Jets.

The underrated Alvin Bailey and Michael Bowie should both see more snaps next season and that will help out, but more than anything this offensive line needs to get healthy. The entire season could depend on it.

Hyperbole? Maybe. But remember what happened to Aaron Rodgers last season. He got brought down by the Bears’ Shea McClellin and fractured his collarbone on a pretty pedestrian tackle on Monday Night Football. He missed the next six games and threw the Packers season into complete disarray. Only a complete implosion by the Detroit Lions and a blown coverage by Chris Conte got them into the playoffs.

Russell Wilson routinely took harder hits than that one in 2013, and he was the third most hurried quarterback in the league.

Protecting the league’s best bargain at quarterback has to be addressed. Lynch is also no longer a spring chicken and his body is going to start breaking down soon, especially if he has to shoulder the kind of load he did last year. I know it’s only April, but it feels like Okung’s toe has been plaguing him for a long time now. Hopefully the boot is a sign that he’s had surgery and the toe is healing, because if it’s still an issue come September 4th it will be bad for business.

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