Bigger offensive lines have been trouble for Seahawks
In games against the NFL's three heaviest offensive lines, the Seahawks averaged 0.7 sacks. In all other games, they have averaged 2.7.
Seattle Times staff reporter
RENTON — The scales were tilted in Dallas' favor before the Cowboys ever took the field against Seattle last week.
Every member of Dallas' offensive line weighed at least 318 pounds, topped out by 353-pound Leonard Davis at right guard. The heaviest Seahawk starter on the defensive line was Brandon Mebane, a 314-pound defensive tackle. Neither of Seattle's ends weighed more than 271.
"The biggest thing that jumps out at me is that there's a little bit of a size differential," coach Mike Holmgren said. "But they're very, very big upfront"
After the Cowboys' Thanksgiving parade through the Seahawks defense, scoring 24 points on their first four possessions, the question of size could loom large in the next few months as Seattle considers how best to retool its roster next season.
The Cowboys' starting offensive line averages more than 330 pounds. Only Philadelphia and Buffalo started heavier offensive lines in last week's games.
The Seahawks defensive line averages 290.8 pounds, and the Cowboys held Seattle without a sack, a first for the Seahawks this season. Seattle has also faced the Eagles and Bills. The Seahawks sacked the opposing quarterback once in each of those games. So in games against the NFL's three heaviest offensive lines, the Seahawks averaged 0.7 sacks. In all other games, they averaged 2.7.
Holmgren's background taught him to appreciate size in the middle of a defense. Fritz Shurmur was his defensive coordinator in Green Bay, and Shurmur liked his defensive tackles large. Just this offseason, Holmgren said it was his opinion the team needed another "big honker" upfront on the defense.
Of course, size isn't everything. The Giants rank fourth in the league in sacks and they average 287 across their defensive line, which is considered one of the best in the league. The Eagles rank third in the league in sacks, and they're also the third-lightest line in the league so there are ways to tip the scales in the favor of the smaller guys.
"You make up for that with excellent quickness, excellent assignments, being exactly right on," Holmgren said. "But you can't really make too many mistakes."
Last week the Cowboys mowed over the Seahawks in a most convincing manner. It wasn't all that long ago these were two evenly matched teams. Seattle's 13-10 victory in October 2005 was a defining moment of the Super Bowl season and the Seahawks won 21-20 in January 2006 in a playoff game decided in the final 2 minutes.
Two seasons later, Seattle spent Thanksgiving in the woodshed down in Dallas, and as the Seahawks return to work to begin preparations for the Patriots this week, the question of why Seattle was beaten so handily becomes an important one for the franchise's future.
Was it a waning of effort by the Seahawks?
"No," Holmgren said. "That's the hard thing. They're going hard. We went up against a good football team and they got us."
This wasn't like some of the other defeats this season, which could be attributed to an inability to sustain offense. The Seahawks sputtered when they got inside Dallas' 20-yard line, settling for three field goals when they needed touchdowns, but even that didn't account for the way Dallas marched over the Seahawks' defense for much of the first half.
It's a mismatch that loomed large, especially upfront and it is something Seattle will have to take into consideration as it considers repairs to this season.
Danny O'Neil: 206-464-2364 or email@example.com
|Dallas started the third-heaviest offensive line in the league last week, none of its five starters weighed less than 318 while none of Seattle's starting defensive linemen weighed more than 314:|
|Average weight||NFL avg. weight||League rank|
|Seattle defensive line||290.8||294.6||18|
|Dallas offensive line||330.2||314.8||3|
|All weights based on starting lineups from Week 13.|
Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company
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