Sunday, August 28, 2011

History or Future?

One of the most popular and prolific passers in Seahawks history played his last snap with the team. His replacements were mediocre, at best. The offensive line was young and inexperienced, even if it boasted some high draft choices. Fans knew it was going to be tough on offense, but nobody could have foreseen just how bad things would be in 1992 when the Seahawks set the NFL mark for offensive futility by averaging a mere 8.8 points per game.

Icon Dave Krieg had just left to play for the Kansas City Chiefs as the front office decided it was time to move on. In his place were 30-year-old Stan Gelbaugh and a former high draft choice of another team (St. Louis Cardinals), named Kelly Stouffer. The offensive line had two first-round draft choices on the left side. Rookie Ray Roberts played left tackle while 3rd-year lineman, Andy Heck slid inside to left guard. Joe Tofflemire was a 27-year old 2nd round pick getting his first shot at starting at center. Veteran Bryan Millard had moved on, and was replaced by Darrick Brilz at right guard. Bill Hitchcock rounded out the line at right tackle. No player on the line had played a snap with the guy next to him before that season.

The offense was not devoid of playmakers. Chris Warren was getting his first chance to start at running back, sharing the backfield with two-time Pro Bowl fullback John L. Williams. The receiving corps featured former Pro Bowler Brian Blades alongside Tommy Kane and Louis Clark.

Even a relatively effective running game that saw Warren go over 1000 yards (1,017 on a 4.6 avg), and the ultimate safety valve in Williams (74 receptions for 556 yards) could not overcome the relentless pass pressure the young and new offensive line allowed. The quarterbacks suffered an astounding 67 sacks on the season. That works out to over four per game. None of the quarterbacks ended the season with a QB rating over 52.9. Their completion percentages were under 50%, and their combined TD/INT ratio was 9/23. Their cumulative yards/attempt was 4.9. Any way you cut it, this was an impossibly bad passing attack, done in by faulty pass protection and mediocre-to-bad quarterback play.

The parallels to the 2011 Seahawks are undeniable, but whether this team is destined for a similar outcome is far less certain. Russell Okung has already proven to be a great pass protector when healthy. Neither Hitchcock or Roberts could claim that. Robert Gallery is a veteran in this system who has played at a high level. Just having one side of the line that has the potential to be stable gives the 2011 Seahawks a leg up on their 1992 counterparts. Sidney Rice, Zach Miller, Mike Williams, and Ben Obomanu are serious upgrades over the 1992 comparables, with all due respect to my former favorite Seahawks Brian Blades. Ron Heller would not have even been invited to training camp, let alone be the starting tight end for the 2011 Seahawks.

This year's Seahawks offense has reason to be concerned. They do have a young and inexperienced line, and they do have mediocre (at best) quarterbacks. They also have a shortened off-season. Expecting the offense to be better than it was last year goes beyond optimism to something more resembling blind faith. This team will struggle to score points. The NFL record set by the 1992 Seahawks, though, is probably safe.

The misery of 1992 lead to a high draft pick the following year that allowed the Seahawks to draft their quarterback of the future, Rick Mirer. Let that be a warning to anyone hoping for the Seahawks to tank this season.

NOTE: If you are feeling queasy, read this. It should help calm you down. 

2 comments :

Anonymous said...

This is Big Ray. I would say the article is as accurate as I remember it. That season was horrendous. We could not get out of our own way. Good comparison with the offensive lines and the lack of playmakers. As for me, it took me a while to catch up to the speed of the game. I was much more effective in the passing game during the second half of the season. The first half seemed like a blur. Good post.

Trace said...

Does Smith have a chance to see much action on defense? I know it's going to be tough to play him over Hill since he's a rookie, but he's really impressed me.

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