A Look at the Film: Is George Fant the Seahawks Franchise Left Tackle?

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George Fant, left tackle for the Seattle Seahawks, had never played offensive line in college football. He hadn’t played offensive line since middle school. So when the Seahawks signed him as an undrafted rookie free agent tight end after the 2016 NFL Draft no one expected much.  However, the Seahawks were so impressed with him that when starter Bradley Sowell went down they went with the rookie over veteran J’Marcus Webb.  While Fant struggled throughout his 2016 season, he showed that he has the capability to be a good left tackle with some coaching and time to develop.

 

A Promising  Seahawks Rookie

Fant played one year of tight end at Western Kentucky where he racked up two tackles and a reception for seven yards. These stats may not blow you away, but Fant’s athleticism and intelligence were enough to convince Coach Pete Carroll and General Manager John Schneider that he deserved a coveted spot on the 53 man roster. Fant’s ability to quickly learn the skills to be a serviceable, if low level, starting left tackle is incredible and shows a high level of not only football intelligence but also work ethic and dedication.

Going into week seven of the 2016 season there was no expectation for Fant to start, or even play in a serious game considering his lack of experience. He was active for the sixth game of the season but most presumed he was the fourth tackle on the depth chart behind Sowell, Gilliam, Webb and Ohdiambo. However with Sowell suffering a knee injury, Coach Carroll sent Fant in and he kept the job from that week forward, showing progression every week and demonstrating new skills every time he got one the field.  He didn’t have the best rookie season, but it with the proper coaching and dedication George Fant can be the Seahawks franchise left tackle.

A Look at the Film: Can Germain Ifedi play Right Tackle?

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Since Pete Carroll first took the head coaching job with the Seattle Seahawks in 2010 there has been an issue with the offensive line. In that time frame, Carroll and general manager John Schneider have come together to draft three offensive linemen in the first round. Those three being Russell Okung (2010), James Carpenter (2011), and Germain Ifedi (2016). Okung is now the highest paid left tackle in the league, while Carpenter is a below average left guard for the New York Jets. The last name on that list, Germain Ifedi, started at right guard for the Seahawks in 2016 and is projected to push out to right tackle in 2017.

 

Moving back to his  natural position

Ifedi was one of the worst guards in the NFL last season. He was responsible for numerous sacks taken by Russell Wilson and was constantly allowing rushers into the backfield. I took a dive into the film to find out if it was due to lack of strength, poor technique or just being a bad football player. What I found is that Ifedi has all the natural talent and strength to be a great player, but utilizes terrible technique time after time.

If Germain Ifedi can successfully adjust his technique and harness his skill set he could be a franchise player for the Seattle Seahawks. Carroll and offensive line coach Tom Cable are looking to move Ifedi to right tackle following the signing of Oday Aboushi, who is slotted to start at right guard. After a season of disappointment along the offensive line, Seattle signed Joeckel and Aboushi to help bring a veteran presence to an extremely young group. Going into 2017 Ifedi will compete with Garry Gilliam, who played at right tackle in 2016, for the starting tackle spot with the possibility of Gilliam also competing at left tackle.

 

A Look at the Film: Oday Aboushi Will Strengthen the Seattle Seahawks

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Over the past three seasons, Seattle Seahawks fans have pleaded with the front office to shore up the offensive line. In 2016 that meant drafting offensive tackle Germain Ifedi, out of Texas A+M.  In 2017 it means signing Oday Aboushi and Luke Joeckel, both linemen were taken in the 2013 draft, one picked number two overall and one picked with the 141st pick. Last week we looked at Luke Joeckel‘s 2016 performance and how he would fit in with the Seahawks. This week we’re looking at Oday Aboushi in the run game and pass protection and how he will fit on the Seahawks offensive line.

The all important “swing” lineman

In the run game, Aboushi is far from the strongest run blocker in the league. However, when you compare him with Ifedi, you’ll find a competent lineman who can hold his own and throw some great blocks at the same time. Whether it was drive blocking or reach blocking Aboushi was executing with precision on most of his snaps. He showed great skill in sealing off lanes for running backs and getting out in space to make blocks as a pulling guard.  On the goal line he was unstoppable, paving the way for two walk in touchdowns against the Indianapolis Colts.

In pass protection, much like Joeckel, he faced some issues with the bull rush. But overall he’s a solid pass protector giving up no sacks in 2016 and only allowing 6 pressures with 2 quarterback hits. He was good against stunts, a glaring weak spot for the Seahawks in 2016.  Another strong selling point on Aboushi is his ability to play anywhere on the line. In college he was an offensive tackle, with the Jets and Texans he was an offensive guard. This gives offensive line coach Tom Cable a wide array of option when assembling the line.

A Look at the Film: The Seahawks Should Be Excited About Luke Joeckel

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For the past two years, the Seattle Seahawks have had relatively lackluster free agency periods. In 2016 Seattle needed an offensive lineman, so they bought some in J’Marcus Webb and Bradley Sowell. Neither of whom will be returning for 2017, this year the Seahawks faced the same need for lineman and brought in the former number two overall pick, Luke JoeckelJoeckel has been billed as a major disappointment in Jacksonville, the team that drafted him, to the point where they didn’t pick up the fifth-year option on their 2013 first rounder. On March 9th, 2017 Joeckel signed an $8 million contract with the Seahawks, seven of which is guaranteed. Joeckel and former Packers running back Eddie Lacy consist of the big names signed by Seattle during the 2017 free agency period.

After taking a look at Joeckel in Jacksonville it became clear that the talk of him being a major disappointment needed to be put into perspective. While he may not have lived up to expectations of the number two overall pick, Joeckel is a competent lineman who will bring an instant upgrade to this struggling Seattle line. His addition, along with that of guard Oday Aboushi, will allow Seattle to get their five best players on the line to protect their star quarterback Russell Wilson.

A Chance to Prove his Worth

Even with the relatively large one year contract for Joeckel, it’s a great signing by the Seattle front office to attempt to shore up their line.  Due to injury the veteran lineman only played three complete games in 2016, despite that he demonstrated good technique, talent, athleticism and strength through those games. With his large contract, Joeckel is almost guaranteed to start, although that won’t be an issue, he is leaps and bounds ahead of almost all the Seattle lineman except center Justin Britt, who may give him a run for his money.

A Look at the Film: Seattle Seahawks Opening Drive Against the Atlanta Falcons

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After trouncing the Detroit Lions in the Wildcard round of the playoffs the Seahawks were set to make a trip to the Georgia Dome and face the red hot Atlanta Falcons. The Falcons opened as three-point favorites over the team they had taken down to the wire in a week six loss. Throughout the season they Seahawks had proved inconsistent on offense. Seattle made a point to march down the field and score on the opening drive but throughout the game again proved inconsistent.

 

A Look at the Film: Seattle Seahawks Opening Drive Against the Atlanta Falcons

On multiple occasions throughout the opening drive, Seattle’s young offensive line was put to the test, from stunting defensive tackles to the “wide 9” front which puts the tackles on an island. Both Garry Gilliam and George Fant struggle but Fant has the hardest time by far dealing with Adrian Clayborn. An interesting wrinkle to the blocking schemes on much of the first drive is a few times tight end Luke Willson is tasked with blocking Vic Beasley, He does an admirable job but is beaten a few times.

For the most part, Seattle was able to move the ball at will whether it be with handoffs to Thomas Rawls, scrambles from Russell Wilson or well-designed route combinations. Rawls was averaging almost 5 yards per carry on the opening drive and looked like the running back that wowed fans in 2015. Doug Baldwin was toasting defensive backs and making athletic grabs to keep the drive alive.  Seattle’s use of stacked formations, play action passing and excellent execution.

The Seattle offensive unit looked as good as it would all day on the opening drive, giving fans a glimmer of hope that Seattle would pull off another underdog win. That wouldn’t last long as mistakes started to pile up on the second drive of the game which resulted in a Seattle safety. The loss of guard Germain Ifedi on the opening drive cannot be understated as replacement Rees Odhiambo was directly responsible for the safety on the next drive.  The Seahawks would fail to score another touchdown until the fourth quarter down by a couple scores.

What Seattle showed on the first drive is promising going into 2017 as the only missing link seems to be a consistent offensive line. With the playmakers for Seattle signed through 2017 and a young offensive line that can only get better, fans should be optimistic going forward that what they saw on the opening drive can be a consistent theme offensively for Seattle going forward.