The Seattle Seahawks have been one of the biggest disappointments early this season, stumbling to a 2-3 start to the season.
While their defence has been lagging — not entirely surprising since Kam Chancellor held out for all of preseason and the first two weeks — their offence has been surprisingly lacklustre.
Injuries have affected the slow start on offence, but part of their sluggishness has been a result of the blockbuster trade they made for Jimmy Graham over the offseason.
The Seahawks quietly paid a big price for Graham, trading center Max Unger and a 2015 first-round draft pick. Graham was expected to fix the Seahawks’ biggest weakness by becoming a dynamic target for Russell Wilson, but instead has gotten off to a slow start, with just 204 receiving yards and two touchdowns through five games.
The Seahawks have also dearly missed Unger. According to Football Outsiders, the Seahawks’ offensive line is dead-last in pass protection, with a 12% adjusted sack rate (sacks plus intentional groundings per pass attempt adjusted for down, distance, and opponent) and 22 sacks on the year. Last season, the Seahawks were fourth in pass protection, with a 4.5% adjusted sack rate and only 19 sacks allowed.
The Seahawks have given up more sacks in five weeks than they did in 16 weeks last year — an astounding statistic. While it can’t be chalked up solely to Unger’s absence, the offensive line is clearly making life difficult for Russell Wilson:
And even when Wilson isn’t getting sacked, he’s forced to make extremely tough plays while avoiding oncoming defences:
Graham also hasn’t done the Seahawks many favours as a blocker (which the Seahawks use him as far more than the Saints ever did):
To make matters worse, the Seahawks have been forced to replace the All-Pro Unger with Drew Nowak, a converted defensive lineman, and the transition hasn’t gone well so far.
Acording to a source for Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports, there were “upwards of 20 snaps” that were “less than ideal” in Seattle’s narrow win over the Lions in Week 4. Another source told La Canfora that the snaps “are the most critical issue with the line” right now.
While the schedule hasn’t helped the Seahawks — they have played the Rams, Packers, and Bengals already — this is a cause for concern going forward. It may be a long adjustment period, but a shaky offensive line puts even more pressure on the defence to win games, and forces Wilson to have to make plays by himself.
Unless the Seahawks find a way to get Graham more involved, it’s worth wondering if the trade was worth doing so far.
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