Offensive line reason to panic?

Was the Seahawks' performance along the offensive line as bad Friday night as it first appeared? Could it be even worse? What is a reasonable expectation for improvement with the Kansas City Chiefs' and their fearsome pass rush at Arrowhead next on the docket? SeahawkFootball.com provides three reasons why Seahawks fans (and their skill position players) shouldn't be worried... yet.

Pete Carroll's worst fears seem realized Friday night with the Seahawks surrendering seven sacks to a Denver Broncos pass rush that did not include future Hall of Famer DeMarcus Ware and only ran the simplest of scheme.

From the sack and strip right tackle Justin Britt surrendered to Von Miller on the Seahawks' first pass attempt of the game to the turnstile that was Jesse Davis, Seattle's offensive line proved every bit as worrisome as Carroll thought heading into the game. After last week's scrimmage, Carroll hinted at his concern, stating that the "young guys need a lot of work."

Following the game, Carroll admitted, "We've got to clean up a lot of things, obviously. I'm disappointed we struggled up front, but not surprised that the young guys might have some trouble. We just need to get a lot better and get a lot better fast with all the backup guys. First group on both sides did OK. Unfortunately we got hammered on the sack early on. We'll get a lot out of this film, it'll be good for us. We've got to get cranked up and go to Kansas City and have a performance that's a lot better."

Before Seahawks fans starting lining up on Snoqualmie Falls to jump off in frustration, keep in mind three factors.

1. Marshawn Lynch didn't play.

With all due respect to Robert Turbin and the rest of Seattle's running backs, with Lynch out, the defense is able to key in on Seattle' passing attack. Miller and Denver's prized rookie Shane Ray were able to pin their ears back and tee off on Seattle's quarterbacks in part because there was little threat of a running game - that's why Russell Wilson found such an easy running lane for his one scramble (12 yards) and why Jimmy Graham was so wide open on his one catch, also for a gain of 12.

2. Shuffling at LG and C has an effect.

Secondly, we can expect growing pains on the interior as the Seahawks continue to shuffle players at left guard and center. Tom Cable and Pat Ruel have experimented with rookie Kristjan Sokoli and Keavon Milton at left guard but neither has provided any real evidence of a current ability to overtake Alvin Bailey. There are two very important reasons why Seattle has shuffled Sokoli, Milton and others at the position - preparing for the possibility that Bailey will have to be moved back outside should Britt or left tackle Russell Okung go down with an injury and to push the former Arkansas product, who has allowed his weight to get out of control in the past.

The takeaway here is that regardless of what the depth chart in the preseason indicates, the Seahawks are counting on Bailey to be the team's starting left guard and if he is, the team will be just fine.

At center, the debate is whether to go with Lemuel Jeanpierre's experience or Drew Nowak's upside. Nowak has the strength and athleticism combination to ultimately be a quality starter in Seattle's scheme but the former defensive tackle is understandably still mastering the protection calls and communication so critical at center. That was why Denver's success was particularly frustrating Friday night as they didn't confuse the Seahawks offensive line with exotic blitzes or stunts - the Broncos simply were faster upfield than Seattle's tackles were used to.

And therein lies the concern with Kansas City, which boasts a three-headed monster in Justin Houston, Tamba Hali and 2014 first round pick Dee Ford on the outside and a stout front with Dontari Poe and Allen Bailey on the line.

3. Broncos were looking for payback

Sure, there has been a lot of turnover on both rosters since the Seahawks demolished the Broncos in Super Bowl XLVIII. The Broncos don't even have the same coaching staff. And therein lies a factor that shouldn't be overlooked.

Gary Kubiak and his staff had every reason in the world to want this game more than Seattle. The Seahawks have been so much more physical and intimidating than most opponents in recent years but it was Denver providing the early big plays and backup quarterback Brock Osweiler riling up teammates after each drive (offensive and defensive alike).

To conclude, Seattle's offensive line issues aren't something to ignore but neither are they reason to panic. Remember, this club finished among the NFL's worst in sacks per passing attempt. Russell Wilson's frenetic playing style and an offensive line built more to mash in the running game than dance in protection is going to result in some ugly snaps.

But if Seattle can remain healthy up front, the offensive line will prove similarly effective as the last two years when the Seahawks final game of the year came in the Super Bowl.

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