Weird Free Agency: Interior Offensive Line

Since the beginning of days, Russell Wilson has faced enormous pressure: the pressure to succeed despite being literally three feet shorter than the average starting QB, the pressure of Richard Sherman’s endless taunting, and (I, at least, have to imagine) the pressure to maintain stoicism and avoid any appearance of selfhood amidst all the rest of it.

And yet, we know that not all pressures are equal in significance. The worst of them, of course, come from the phantom of Tom Cable, a promise as absurd as it is asinine that Cable could take raw athletic archetypes and mold them into functioning offensive linemen. The result was, and I humbly apologize for this, offensive.

The firing of Cable and hiring of Mike Solari changed many things. While the most significant of them* isn’t important here, we should acknowledge that the Seahawks 2018 offensive line looked … decent? Not bad? It isn’t wholly clear. On the one hand, by Pro Football Focus (PFF) grading, the line did not rank especially well; from left to right, the starters had the following grades: 82.3 (5th tackle), 45.7 (71st guard), 54.3 (29th center), 48.7 (69th guard), and 55.6 (71st tackle). Moreover, the line was at least partially responsible for some of the 51 sacks surrendered in 2018, for a third-worst adjusted sack rate of 10.4%. However, by every DVOA run-blocking category, 2018 was a phenomenal improvement over 2017: Power Success of 71% vs. 55% (a ranking of 5th vs. 27th), 2nd Level Rank of 10th vs. 28th, and Open Field Rank of 15th vs. 21st. Additionally, PFF graded the 2018 offensive line unit as the 17th best in pass-blocking efficiency.

* The discovery and rise to preeminence of @CableThanos_

The only reasonable conclusion to draw is purgatorial: Russell Wilson is always going to take more sacks than one could hope for, but we’ve all been blessed to bear witness to the divine wizardry of which he’s capable behind a good OL and with a competent OC (here’s looking at the back-end of 2015).  Plus, for the first time in what seems like an eternity, the Seahawks offensive line will lose only one starter from the previous year. On top of that, another year under Solari suggests that the line should continue to play as well, and even that some improvement could be expected.

However, many factors continue to illuminate the critical importance of the interior part of a line: the devastation pressure up the middle can cause on play-action passing; the improvement of Wilson’s footwork and pocket presence; even new player tracking data, suggesting a near-equal importance between interior and edge pressure rates; and Aaron Donald.  And while the Seahawks seem set with the veteran buttresses provided by Iupati and Fluker, a capable back-up option in Simmons, and some development from one (or more!) of Pocic, Roos, or Haynes, there are always weirder options.

Wong Scouting Report

Bio

Very little is known about this Master of the Mystic Arts.  A Chinese national, Wong was elevated to the position of Librarian of Kamar-Taj before Dr. Stephen Strange’s arrival, and briefly served as a Master of both the New York and Hong Kong Sanctums. From what we can surmise, he was also the only Master to ever serve as Master to multiple Sancta. While Wong was never formally part of the Avengers, and chose duty over glory by defending the Sanctum instead of participating in the First Infinity War, he provided invaluable aid to Strange in preventing Kaecilius from summoning Dormammu to consume Earth, and was essential to the Avengers’ strategy in the Second Infinity War.

Analysis

Wong possesses the classic body for an interior offensive lineman, with quick feet, a solid anchor, and impossibly fast hands aided by decades of studying the Mystic Arts.  Lacking the toxic arrogance and undisciplined presumptiveness often found in other Masters, Wong would not only benefit the unit with a steadying leadership, but so too would he flourish in a Pete Carroll locker room.  And though it must be acknowledged that it isn’t clear Wong has any idea how to block or play football, and may well be the oldest player on the roster, his ability to create holes in the spacetime continuum at will is undeniable.  He is also inordinately serious, and never laughs.

Strengths

  • Can harness dimensional energies to manipulate all aspects of the infinite realities that are present within the Multiverse
  • Possesses peripheral vision enhanced by mystical faculties making him perfect for cutting off backside rushes
  • Can create shields around his hands that will cut off the hands of opposing defensive linemen.  (Want to watch a handless Aaron Donald play? Then get this dude.)
  • Can create even bigger shields to completely stymie opposing defensive linemen, making him the perfect pass-blocker
  • Ability to create bands of multidimensional energy nullifying the need for cut blocks or, really, any kind of substantive motion
  • Likes Beyoncé

Weaknesses

  • Lacks flexibility, knee bend, and hip torque due to advanced age, but can create a hole in midair through which a running back can run, such that the running back can score a TD on every play
  • Ideally, needs more strength in initial punch, but can summon the Wand of Watoomb to unleash a damaging blast upon one or more opposing defensive linemen
  • Strength is present but may not be low enough, but susceptibility to bullrush is negated by ability to create multiple images of self, thus confusing opposing defensive linemen
  • Lacks explosive speed, but can teleport defenders from the second-level to anywhere on or off the field, which makes him perfect for the Seahawks’ screen game and uh these are strengths I guess

In short, Wong would be the perfect blocker to aid the emergence of the Seahawks’ offensive line as perhaps one of its strongest units.  He would excel during plays in which Rashaad Penny tries to reverse course and runs like 70 yards to gain 20, by creating a hole in order to ensure that Penny always runs in the right direction. He would also be the perfect compliment Chris Carson leaping over a poor unsuspecting soul, allowing him to hurdle multiple defenders at once, or even to hurdle underneath a defender.

Wong could also create holes all around Wilson on drop backs, so that he can no longer abandon clean pockets.  And, failing all else, at the uttermost end of need, Wong could just grab Russ by the scruff of his neck, and toss him through a hole, revolutionizing the QB sneak.