Season Review and Preview – The Search for Offensive Coaches – Offensive Line

OFFENSIVE LINE COACH

The head of the snake is the Offensive Coordinator, but the anchor that has been weighing down the team is Offensive Line Coach Tom Cable. You can generously claim he had mixed success in his career with the Seahawks, but a dig into the numbers makes it less kind. I know we don’t really need to rehash this, but the number of Tom Cable apologists compels me to present some facts. There is a misconception about resources allocated to the Offensive Line, or that only late round picks were used with converted Defensive Linemen.

Round 1 – Carpenter (2011), Ifedi (2016)

Round 2 – Britt (2014), Pocic (2017)

Round 3 – Moffitt (2011), Odhiambo (2016)

Round 4 – Poole (2015), Glowinski (2015)

These are the picks in the top 4 Rounds under Cable. Ifedi, Britt, Pocic, and Odhiambo remain with the team, but have had extremely mixed success rates. Of all of them, Britt is the only pick to get a 2nd contract from the team. There has been a clear lack of ability to identify and develop talent through the draft. This last season, we saw a line made up of Brown (former Pro Bowl LT and $9mil player), Joeckel (8m Free Agent), Britt (2nd Round), Pocic (2nd Round), Ifedi (1st Round). All of this produced the 31st ranked Offensive Line in Adjusted Line Yards with 3.18 (a statistic used by Football Outsiders to determine the yards per rush the OL is responsible for), and 26th in Adjusted Sack Rate at 8.1% (sack rate based on number of pass plays). In 10 seasons as an NFL Offensive Line Coach with Seattle, Oakland, and Atlanta Cable ranked in the top half of the league 5 times, but only 1 time without Marshawn Lynch. Four of his 10 Seasons his line was 25th or worse. He has NEVER ranked in the top half in Adjusted Sack Rate. As a matter of fact, he was never better than 20th, and was 24th or worse in all 9 other seasons (30th or worse in 4). Cable’s track record is not strong outside of a 4 season stretch of run blocking in Beastmode’s prime years.

The thing to remember though is that the talent remains. Duane Brown is a proven talent, Justin Britt has shown ability, and for Ifedi and Pocic there is a reason they were considered high round talent for the NFL Draft. The cupboard is far from bare. With the team moving on it’s time to look forward at where the team may turn. Just as with Offensive Coordinators this is a list of candidates that are highly appealing and potentially available, but also they fill the role of place holders for others who fit the same profile.

Bill Callahan Asst HC / OL Coach Washington Redskins (3 seasons) 13 OL / 6 HC / 7 OC

Age: 61

Adjusted Line Yards (Run)

Adjusted Sack Rate

2017

Career Best

2017

Career Best

22nd (3.89)

1st (4.40) 2014 Dallas Cowboys

22nd (7.6%)

3rd (3.9%) 2016 Washington NFL

When you think about Bill Callahan you may you may still think of his unceremonious dumping from the Raiders after being dismantled in the Super Bowl by Tampa Bay, or his even less glorious turn as the head coach at Nebraska. However, he’s been up to something the last decade in the NFL, and that is assembling 3 of the better Offensive Line groups we’ve seen. He coached the Jets to 4 straight seasons in the top 6 in Adjusted Line Yards from 2008-2011. He then assembled the O-Line Dallas is running, before moving on to Washington where injuries have seen his tenure run up and down but he was 6th in Adjusted Line Yards and 3rd in Adjusted Sack Rate in 2016. His track record speaks for itself, he is an excellent O-Line Coach. The trick will be luring him away from a good situation in Washington other than money would be recognition. Assistant Head Coach, Co-Offensive Coordinator, or some other management of titles. What Callahan represents is the proven commodity, the clearly effective coach who will take some dealing to pry away. This is also the least believable hire because of the complications of hiring away a good coach in a good position in the NFL. We can hope though.

Mike Tice Offensive Line Coach Oakland Raiders (3 seasons) 11 OL / 4 HC / 1 OC

Age: 58

Adjusted Line Yards (Run)

Adjusted Sack Rate

2017

Career Best

2017

Career Best

13th (4.12)

2nd (4.59) 2000 Minnesota Vikings

7th (4.7%)

1st (3.4%) Oakland Raiders

What is the next best option to a highly successful Offensive Line Coach in a great position? An Offensive Line Coach who has seen solid NFL success but is currently unemployed. Tice was ousted with the rest of Jack Del Rio’s staff in Oakland and will be looking for a job. In the last 4 seasons with Oakland and Atlanta he’s been 7th, 1st, 4th, and 11th in Adjusted Sack Rate, and 13th, 11th, 19th, and 14th in Adjusted Line Yards. This is a strong showing in both Pass and Run Blocking while working with talented but far from other worldly players on the line. The wonderful part about Tice is that he is a much easier hire than Callahan as he currently is looking for a job. Add to that his ties to the Seahawks (Tight End 1981-88) and there is reason to believe this connection could happen. It would be nice to have a veteran OL Coach who has experience as an Offensive Coordinator with a track record of quality in both the Pass and Run with successful mobile Quarterbacks like Dante Culpepper and David Gerrard.

Marc Colombo Asst OL Coach Dallas Cowboys (3 seasons) 3 Asst OL Coach

Age: 39

Adjusted Line Yards (Run)

Adjusted Sack Rate

2017

Career Best

2017

Career Best

4th (4.75)

4th (4.75) 2017 Dallas Cowboys

15th (6.6%)

13th (5.6%) Dallas Cowboys

Much like with Offensive Coordinator, if the Seahawks aren’t going with someone proven I would love to see them take a shot at someone that could be the next great thing. Marc Colombo had a 10 year run as an Offensive Tackle in the NFL with Chicago, Dallas, and Miami. He’s spent the last 3 seasons working with a great line in Dallas running a very sound blocking scheme under Frank Pollack. Colombo is the stand in for every former Lineman who is currently an Assistant Offensive Line Coach. After watching former players pick apart the way Cable teaches technique the last several seasons it would be nice to have that insight as well as someone who can understand and relate to what is mostly a very young Offensive Line here in Seattle.

Harry Hiestand Notre Dame OL Coach (6 seasons) 32 OL Coach (5 NFL)

Age: 59

Adjusted Line Yards (Run)

Adjusted Sack Rate

2017 (NCAA)

Career Best

2017 (NCAA)

Career Best

4th (125.7/gm)

8th (4.43) 2006 Chicago Bears

58th (108.4)

6th (4.8%) 2006 Chicago Bears

Hiestand is unique in that he is currently working at Notre Dame, so there is reason to believe that he will see an NFL job as a career move and upgrade, though at 59 you may wonder how interested he would be in coming back to the league. He does have NFL experience with 5 seasons in Chicago (2005-09) where results were mostly mixed (though still a good bit better than Cable). The upside is in the College game he’s shown himself to be a very capable teacher as he has coached 4 Offensive Linemen (Chris Watt, Zack Martin, Nick Martin, and Ronnie Stanley) that were drafted in the NFL with 2 more (Quenton Nelson and Mike McGlinchey) likely picks in 2018. With a young Offensive Line, having a teacher like him would make a lot of sense.

Sam Pittman Georgia OL Coach (2 seasons) 14 OL Coach

Age: 46

Adjusted Line Yards (Run)

Adjusted Sack Rate

2017 (NCAA)

Career Best

2017 (NCAA)

Career Best

12th (116.4/gm)

64th (104)

Sam Pittman is a stand in. He represents one of several younger Offensive Line coaches with loads of experience in College working at a high level (Power 5) and turning out talent as well as success. Pittman just finished his 2nd season at Georgia where he has coached an excellent run game, and been very successful producing drafted Linemen with the Arkansas Razorbacks, Tennessee Volunteers, and North Carolina Tarheels. There is a lot of talk about how NFL Coaches are having trouble catching up to scheme and having success with the types of skill position players that colleges are putting out. Perhaps a guy like Pittman can better understand how to equip an Offensive Line for handling a mobile Quarterback like Russell Wilson or working with Run Pass Option schemes. There is a chance that if innovation is what you are seeking you can best find it outside of the NFL.

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