We used to be in there, now we’re out here
Just as they were starting to get their running game going – for the first time in years – it looks like they have lost their third starting lineman in three weeks.
Russell Okung had been playing very steady football over the last few weeks – he was the one who sprang Marshawn Lynch free from that scrum in the first quarter against the Eagles, sealing off two defenders so Lynch could bounce out of the pile for his 15-yard touchdown run.
Okung was a big part of a unit that paved the way for a season-high 174 rushing yards in the 31-14 win over the Eagles. It was the fifth straight game they had gone over 100, a sure sign they were making progress in their running game. Now they can forget about it.
Okung (pectoral) figures to join rookies James Carpenter (knee) and John Moffitt (knee) on the sideline for the final month, which further short-circuits the development of the line – which was really the main point of this season for the offense.
Now those guys all have to rehab injuries and hope to come back by training camp next year. If any of them miss minicamps, it will simply throw the line further and further behind.
What do the Hawks have to do to overcome the Curse of Hutch? Bring Steve Hutchinson back? He’s a free agent after next season, so maybe they should, even if he will be 35 in 2013 and is no longer the dominant force he was from 2004 to 2009. Bring him back just to end this damn curse.
Okung has been plagued since he was drafted last year. He has had three high ankle sprains and now the chest injury, which occurred in the final two minutes of Thursday’s game. On a running play to the right, Okung locked up with Philadelphia end Trent Cole and ran him down field about 10 yards and across to the right. At the very end of the play, all you can see is Okung’s feet flip up as they go out of the picture. It turns out Cole, surely frustrated that he was blocked for 20 yards and for the entire play, apparently flipped Okung to the ground, tearing the left tackle’s chest muscle in the act.
The Hawks were already thin on the line. Losing three starters in three weeks destroys them. They can’t bring back Tyler Polumbus because he recently signed with Washington. So who knows what their line will look like for the final four games?
This emphasizes the need for them to draft yet another lineman high in next year’s draft. No, we’re not kidding. If they cannot get a quarterback they like in the first round, they would be very smart to use their top pick on a lineman for the third straight year.
Linemen are the backbone of a team, and the Hawks were incredibly remiss under Tim Ruskell in not restocking that unit. Pete Carroll and John Schneider have addressed it, but they obviously need to fortify even more.
In the meantime, nothing more can be gained on offense this season. Too bad.
WE’RE NOT FALLING FOR THE BRANDON IN THE TAILPIPE
Many people will look at his two interceptions against the Eagles as great redemption for his poor play that helped cost the game against Washington last week. But the reality is that Browner got lucky against Philly and is still a major liability in the secondary.
He added another penalty and got beat multiple times by Riley Cooper – Riley Cooper! And his two picks came courtesy of (1) a wide-open Cooper tipping the ball to him and (2) Vince Young underthrowing a pass into double coverage (OK, that was a nice over-the-shoulder catch).
We’re just not fans of Browner, but Carroll is willing to cut him a break despite a league-leading 16 penalties. Carroll told NFL Network: “We’re going to live with it a little bit as we grow with him.”
Prediction: Browner won’t grow much and won’t be on the team in 2013.
**It’s pretty rare when a team can have a quarterback on the field at all times, but that’s how it turned out for the Seahawks. The quarterbacks completed 17 passes to Seahawks – 13 by Tarvaris Jackson and four by Young, who proved once again what we knew before he was ever drafted third overall in 2006: He is not a pro QB.
**The Hawks are 5-7, which is two games better than we predicted they would be at this point. If not for bad losses to Cleveland and Washington, they would be 7-5 and very much in the playoff hunt – despite all of their offensive inconsistency and injuries. They could still make it if they win out and the Bears, Giants and Lions all finish 9-7. That would mean two more losses for the Giants and three each for Chicago and Detroit – not likely but certainly possible if you look at their schedules. The Seahawks just aren’t consistent enough to hold up their end of the bargain, and losing Okung really hurts.
**The Seahawks seemed to blitz their linebackers more than in any game this year, and rookie K.J. Wright seemed to make more plays in this game than he had in aggregate since he took over for Aaron Curry in late September. Heck, we thought the Hawks had been playing with two linebackers since they traded Curry.
**It’s nice to see Golden Tate step up finally. It took a mammoth performance in the final preseason game for him to avoid being cut, and he has started to show his ability in real games the last few weeks. This game – four catches for 46 yards and a score – was his best as a pro. The emergence of Tate and rookie Doug Baldwin will make it easy to cut ties with Mike Williams if the latter doesn’t get it together in the offseason and prove he really wants to be an NFL player.
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