October 25, 2013 in Sports

Seahawks line: Protection first

Bob Condotta Seattle Times
 
Courtesy photo

Seattle Seahawks
(Full-size photo)

RENTON, Wash. – Seattle Seahawks offensive line coach Tom Cable says the task for his position group is pretty simple these days.

“Don’t get him hit,’’ Cable says, referring to Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson. “That’s our mantra right now.”

Living up to that goal, though, has been maybe the biggest challenge on either side of the ball for the Seahawks this season as they prepare for Monday night’s game at St. Louis.

By just about any metric used, Seattle’s pass protection has been at best an issue and at worst a problem, especially the last month when the team has been without starting right tackle Breno Giacomini and left tackle Russell Okung.

Pro Football Focus this week stated that Wilson has been pressured on 46.6 percent of pass attempts, the most of any quarterback in the NFL – the average is 36 percent.

Giacomini and Okung are expected back in the next month or so, alleviating some of the long-term concern about the pass protection.

Paul McQuistan, who started the season at right guard, has been playing left tackle in place of Okung, while rookie Michael Bowie has replaced Giacomini. Center Max Unger also missed two games, but has played the last two.

Cable said being without Okung and Giacomini means the goals for the line right now are pretty short-term.

“Just got to keep surviving and advance to the next play and come out of this thing with our quarterback standing up,” he said. “That’s what we are doing – don’t go beyond that. Because it would be ludicrous to go and say you are going to do that (go beyond surviving and advancing) with people who aren’t accustomed to playing out there. So just keep surviving.”

That also holds true for Wilson, whose supreme ability to escape pressure has been put to the severest test of his two-year NFL career.

Wilson has eight fumbles this season, five of which have been lost, each the most of any player in the NFL.

Seahawks coach Pete Carroll states the obvious – that the number of times Wilson has been hit, and the resulting fumbles, is a concern.

“He’s been hit pretty consistently the last three-four weeks here and that’s why the ball has come out and it’s been unfortunate,” Carroll said.

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