“Counterparts to be counted on” is a 32-part series where we the “Front Office” of couchpotatogm.com analyzes both side of the ball on each team and determine which individual or position group MUST have a particularly strong season in 2016 for their respective teams to have a successful 2016 campaign. The BIG questions for the Seattle Seahawks are can the big guys up front keep DangerRuss upright? And can someone other than Michael Bennett harass the opposing QB?
The Offensive Line – I tried really hard to select just one counterpart on the Seattle Seahawks roster but the offensive line was so bad last year that I had no choice but to choose the entire position group as the Seahawks 2016 offensive counterpart to be counted on. It became apparent early on in the 2015 season that the offensive line was going to hold the Seahawks back from going to their third straight Super Bowl. During the offseason, in an effort to get more explosive Seattle traded their starting center and glue to their offensive line Max Unger to the New Orleans Saints for high flying, big play TE Jimmy Graham. On the surface many fans and analysts alike loved the move by Seattle because it gave QB Russell Wilson a legitimate playmaker on the outside he has been lacking in his young career. However, in hindsight this move was the pre-cursor for what was the demise of the former NFC champs.
Offensive line head coach Tom Cable have his work cut out for him with the departure of two more mainstays on the line Russell Okung and J.R. Sweezy this offseason. The organization after last year’s debacle has done nothing substantial to improve their offensive line woes and is paying a league worst 8% of their cap space to the position group. The Seahawks have spent a lot of money locking up the their franchise quarterback and “The Legion of Boom” but the trenches has suffered and we all know that’s where most football games are either won or loss.
The Seahawks has been a team who have been consistently one of the best rushing teams in the league. A successful rushing attack usually goes a long way with setting the tone for a football game and also taking pressure off your quarterback. If Seattle wants to get back to the championship they will need to count on the projected starting lineup of: Garry Gilliam, Mark Glowinski, Justin Britt, Germain Ifedi, and J’Marcus Webb. If the offensive line can somehow come together and be an improved unit then the Seahawks have a great chance to take back the NFC West and make a deep playoff push.
Frank Clark – The former Michigan Wolverine defensive end battled through an inauspicious career at the University of Michigan with his share of off the field legal issues. Clark was eventually dismissed from the football team in 2014 which led to him slipping down the draft board to the 53rd overall pick. No one was more happy for his fall than the Seahawks franchise who may have drafted their next defensive standout. On the field Clark is menace who disrupts passing attacks and running efforts equally as impressive. Now in his second season, Clark hopes he can translate his abilities into dominance on the football field.
Last season Clark was a rotational player along the defensive line playing roughly 34% of the Seahawks defensive snaps but in 2016 with the departure of Bruce Irvin, expect that percentage to double this season. With the heavy workload coming his way, Clark has dropped 15-20 pounds this off-season in hopes to become a more explosive edge rusher. The improved play of the front four powered by Michael Bennett and Clark will go a long way for the Seahawks to reclaim that dominance up front we saw in their back-to-back Super Bowl run. I believe the Seahawks realize the potential of Clark and will do a better job of putting him in the most advantageous situation in order for him to get to the quarterback. As a situational player last season Clark was asked to wear many hats along the defensive line but with space and opportunity in 2016, expect Clark to line up predominately on the edge reeking havoc on opposing quarterbacks.