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The New NFL Siberia: Playing Guard for the Seattle Seahawks

Monday, August 24, 2015

 

It used to be that if a player was misbehaving or under-performing, a coach would threaten to trade him to Green Bay. It worked. Nobody wanted to be sent to Siberia. Of course, this was before the arrival of newly crowned NFL Hall of Famer Ron Wolf arrived in Siberia, bringing in Mike Holmgren, Brett Favre and Reggie White. Green Bay was Siberia no more. Now, if you want to torment a player you make him play guard for the Seattle Seahawks. Left guard, specifically. 

Pick a guard, any guard

Don’t believe me? Name the starting guard for the Seahawks. Go ahead. I’ll wait. You can’t. Because the Seahawks don’t know themselves. Nearly three weeks into training camp, after numerous OTAs and mini-camps, the Seahawks are as uncertain of their starting left guard as you are. 

According to multiple reports, here are the players that have logged time at the left guard position: Alvin Bailey, Drew Nowak, Kristjan Sokoli, Lemuel Jeanpierre, Keavon Milton, Mark Glowinski … and maybe you. Wait by the phone. You could get a call. And now add Justin Britt to this lengthy list. Is this bad? Well, it’s not good.

Glad that’s over with

The Seahawks’ first preseason contest against the Denver Broncos revealed a few ugly truths. We may not love preseason football, but we can be thankful for its learning opportunities. 
One of the lessons learned is that Russell Wilson may very well be an endangered species in the upcoming campaign. Second-string quarterback Tarvaris Jackson did not make it all the way through the game. His estimated time out (4 – 6 weeks) may cause the blue birds to keep an extra quarterback on the roster. Which is a shame, because the Seahawks need to, apparently, throw as many bodies as they can at the offensive line. 

Starting right tackle Justin Britt gave up a telling sack to Denver’s Von Miller. Not just a sack, but a strip sack. How bad was it? Well … he’s playing guard now. That’s how bad it was. The Seahawks allowed a total of seven sacks in the game.

Do you buy the line that Head Coach Pete Carroll gave about trying guys out at guard, as if that’s some kind of natural progression? The second-year Britt was the team’s starting right tackle all last season. He is one of the few offensive linemen to have started all 16 games. Highly drafted (second round), Britt is supposed to be an ascending player, if the Seahawks’ drafting prowess is more fact than fiction. 

Instead, one of the few young offensive lineman the Seahawks have that is supposed to be a building block of the future — while the blue birds reload for another likely championship run— is now being shuffled among the who-dats at guard. No, they didn’t do that because they are pleased as punch with Britt. 

Gilliam’s isle

Garry Gilliam, the former college tight end, is now being tried at Britt’s right tackle spot. Think that isn’t a message of assessment of Britt’s abilities to counteract speed rushers? We can probably use Gilliam as a litmus test for how well Britt is doing. If the undrafted Gilliam (or anyone else) continues to get first-team reps at the right tackle spot, it’s a sign that the Seahawks have lost confidence in Britt. The Seahawks’ roster still lists Britt as a tackle, but reports from camp indicate he’s still practicing at guard. All the more reason to think that maybe his sojourn inside was intended as a wake-up call (or worse) after his spotty preseason performance. 

The lesson: Don’t let Von Miller put you on his lunch menu. Otherwise, we’ll move you to Siberia. 

Right now, the left guard role is a grab-bag for the Seahawks. Bailey is thought to be the clubhouse leader for the starting slot, but should the Seahawks be unimpressed with Gilliam’s audition, don’t be surprised if Bailey is next in line at right tackle instead of the incumbent Britt.  

GoLocalPDX partner Oregon Sports News: Since 2011, Oregon Sports News has provided entertaining, hard-hitting local sports news & commentary every weekday. To read more from this author, check out Oregon Sports News here.

 

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