If there's one thing Dom Capers is known for, it is coming up with creative blitzing schemes. With the Green Bay Packers taking on the Seattle Seahawks in week two of the NFL season, Capers and the Packers' defense's ability to generate pass rush on Russell Wilson should be one of the keys to winning that game.
Based on the Seahawks' early returns on the offensive line, however, Capers should look something like this while putting together his gameplan:
You see, the Seahawks' O-line put together one of the poorer performances in that franchise's recent memory in week one against the St. Louis Rams. Now, before you go there, I will acknowledge that the Rams have arguably the best defensive line in the NFL. The starting quartet of Chris Long, Michael Brockers, Aaron Donald, and Robert Quinn should rightly strike fear into the hearts of offensive line coaches everywhere. I, for one, am not looking forward to the Packers facing them in week five.
Regardless of the opponent, however, the Seahawks' front five had an abysmal day. Here are the initial overall grades for the linemen from Pro Football Focus:
LT Russell Okung: -4.6
LG Justin Britt: -4.8
C Drew Nowak: +0.2
RG J.R. Sweezy: -6.8
RT Garry Gilliam*: -11.1 (!!!!)
* Note: this is the same player who made that touchdown catch off the fake field goal in the NFC Championship Game, in case you've blocked that out of your memory. I'm sorry I had to bring that up again.
The line allowed a total of 17 pressures, according to PFF, including six allowed by Okung and a whopping eight by Gilliam. Even more impressive? Each of the tackles and guards graded in the red (-1.0 or worse) in both pass and run blocking, with Gilliam's -8.7 pass block grade "leading" the way.
Certainly, much of their struggle was result of great pass rushers on the other side and the Rams' early lead forcing the Seahawks to throw the ball. Furthermore, on the 19 plays in which Wilson was pressured, he escaped and scrambled for positive yardage four times. However, he also was brought down for a sack six times, a feat which the Packers should try to replicate this week. All in all, Wilson completed an impressive number of passes, but his yardage was limited - he was 32/41 (78%), but only for 251 yards, an average of 6.1 yards per attempt. Rushing the ball, Wilson's six scrambles netted only 32 yards, but only two first downs.
Another significant factor here is the change that has taken place in the personnel along the line since last year. Starting center Max Unger was traded to New Orleans in exchange for tight end Jimmy Graham. Unger was a plus run blocker for the Seahawks, though he was just average in pass protection. Left guard James Carpenter also is gone, leaving in free agency for the Jets, which forced right tackle Justin Britt over to guard and resulted in Gilliam taking over the right tackle job. After one game, it's not looking promising.
Clearly, the Rams' ability to not only pressure Wilson but to maintain their gaps and contain his scrambling ability were major components in their upset win on Sunday. The Packers will need to be equally disciplined to contain Wilson, but the play of the Seahawks' offensive line in week one should give the Packers and Dom Capers plenty of places to attack in the passing game.