Tale Of The Tape: Pete Carroll Re-Shapes Both Lines

Horizontal American Style Football in high contrast on black
Pete Carroll made it very clear that his top two priorities heading into this off-season were the offensive and defensive lines. When I rolled over in bed last night, and saw on my phone that the Seahawks had added 6’6″ 338 lbs DT/DE Alan Branch to the roster, I smiled and dreamt about Tim Ruskell locked in a room somewhere trying to convince a GM that 280 lb defensive lineman are the shiznit. That begged a more sincere line of thinking. Ruskell was the poster boy for smaller “try-hard” lineman (and horrible personnel moves), and Carroll clearly values girth and size. Now that Carroll has revamped both lines, just how much of difference is there, and where?

Start with the defensive line. The starting line in 2009, the year before Carroll joined, was:

For the inches-challenged, the average height of the 2009 defensive line was 6’3.25″, 6’5″ for DE and 6’1.5″ for DT. Whether Colin Cole was ever 299 lbs is debatable. Luckily, he’s still the projected starter in 2011, so there is no gain/loss in comparison there.

Take a look at the 2011 projected lineup (if Mebane signs):

Again, the height translation there is 6’2.75″ for the entire line, 6’4″ for DE and 6’1.5″ for DT. What the means is that Carroll has added significant bulk in to the defensive ends, and gotten a little older (both DT are the same player, but 2 years older). 

2011 Seahawks DEs are younger, heavier and shorter than 2009
DEF Line, as a whole, is older and heavier than 2009

The graph for DTs was not worth posting since it is the same two players, only two years older. Think about the defensive ends again. They averaged 267 lbs in 2009 and are 290 lbs now. That’s a startling difference, completely due to the scheme change that put Red Bryant out there. The team had nobody like Bryant last season, but Branch fits that mold. Ironically, Carroll was talked into trying Bryant at the position by former defensive line coach Dan Quinn. Carroll had typically ran this scheme with the larger defensive end being closer to 300 lbs. The lack of alternative talent on the 2010 roster forced Carroll to at least consider Bryant, and he admitted on more than one occasion that he believes they have discovered a new twist by having a heavier player in that role. Branch’s signing was proof of that.

Switch over to the offensive line now. The fact that 50% of the 2009 defensive line may be back in 2011 at least shows there was some talent to work with there. The offensive line is 100% turned over (Max Unger will play on both lines, but at a different position). Take a look at the Ruskell line:

Average height of the line was 6’3.2″. Average height of the guards was 6’3.5″, and average height of the tackles was 6’3″. Let’s see how that compares to the projected 2011 line:

Average height for the line is 6’5″. Average height for the guards is 6’5.5″, and 6’5″ for the tackles. This is a younger, taller and heavier line than 2009. Check out the overall breakdowns:

Guards will be much older, heavier and taller

Tackles will be infants in comparison to their 2009 counterparts

The overall OL will be much younger, and moderately heavier/taller

Age, height and weight are not indications of talent. They are indications of what physical characteristics the front office and coaching staff value, and there are some stunning differences from the failed Ruskell philosophy that all Seahawks fans should recognize and celebrate. The age of the defensive line proves there is still work to be done there, but the renovation of both sides of the ball is well underway.

More Stories
Real Hawk Talk Episode 154: We’re Back