The more things change, the more they stay the same, especially if you’re talking about the Seattle Seahawks’ offensive line.
In news that should come as no surprise to anyone, the Seahawks will be starting yet another combination up front when they face Dallas on Sunday.
Coach Pete Carroll announced Wednesday that John Moffitt likely will return to his right guard spot, replacing rookie J.R. Sweezy. On top of that, left tackle Russell Okung is questionable and could be replaced by Frank Omiyale, who filled in after Okung suffered a bruised knee against Arizona.
If Omiyale does start, it will be the 18th starting line combination for the Seahawks in Carroll’s 34 games as coach. They used 10 combinations in 2010 and six last season.
The move back to Moffitt comes after the coaches were apparently not satisfied by Sweezy’s play in his NFL debut. A seventh-round defensive lineman converted to guard had trouble against the blitz? Big shock there.
Communication was obviously lacking at times — such as when Sweezy and center Max Unger let Arizona Cardinals defensive end Darnell Dockett run right by them and pressure Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson out of the pocket.
“It was an issue for us that we didn’t take advantage of our calls as well as we had been doing,” Carroll told reporters, via Seahawks.com. “So we didn’t target as well. That’s something that we can do well. We’ve been doing it. But for whatever reason, in this game we weren’t as effective as we’ve been and it caused some problems for us.” Carroll continued, “So we go right back to the basics of it. Just get us on the right guys and we’ll be fine. But that’s really what we’re talking about this week: communicating really well.”
So Moffitt is back in between Unger and right tackle Breno Giacomini.
“I was talking to Breno earlier and saying, ‘Let’s talk a lot. Let’s over-talk in practice and on the field,’ ” Moffitt told Seahawks.com. “Just so when it comes to the game we’re right at a good level of what we need to do and what we need to say. I think that communication thing can be cleaned up real fast, and I think we’ll clean it up this week.”
Meanwhile, James Carpenter practiced in team drills for the first time since tearing his ACL last December. He worked at left guard, where he eventually figures to see playing time.
Russell Wilson, Pocket Passer
It has been obvious that the Seahawks have been trying to make Russell Wilson a pocket quarterback. The last series of downs against Arizona are proof of that: The coaches kept him in the pocket on every play, refusing to give him the option to run for the winning touchdown even though Arizona blitzed two guys on each of the last three plays.
“We’re not saying he’s a running quarterback. That’s really not what we’re trying to do,” offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell told the News Tribune. “Obviously it’s a long season, and he’s going to take his hits and stuff. But we’re not really trying to design the thing for him to run.
“What’s probably been best about him is when he’s moved, he moved with merit,” Bevell said. “And then when he’s moved in the passing game, he’s moved to throw down the field and make explosive plays. That’s what we need to continue to do.”
Of course, his only success doing that came in the preseason, and the coaches are obviously hoping he can translate that to the regular season soon. This week, he faces a Dallas defense that held quarterback Eli Manning and the New York Giants in check, sacking Manning -three times and holding the Giants to 4-for 12 on third-down conversions.
The Cowboys are very likely to repeat the Arizona game plan and pressure Wilson as much as possible. The Seahawks will have to come up with a much better plan for dealing with it this time.
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Chris Cluff worked as a sports editor and writer for The Seattle Times for 11 years and has written two books on the Seattle Seahawks. Since leaving the Times, he has written about the Seahawks and Seattle sports for Bleacher Report and the blog he shares with a fellow sportswriter, outsidethepressbox.com. His work can be found on Examiner.com.