Seahawks offensive-line coach Tom Cable is considered one of the best assistants in the league, but former Seahawks center Robbie Tobeck questioned Cable’s tactic of building a line with players converted from different positions.
“That whole conversion thing, you get lucky on a guy or two trying to convert a D-lineman. I don’t think it’s how you’re going to build an O-line in the NFL,” Tobeck said on “Bob, Groz and Tom” this week. “You’ve got these guys as green as they can be, never played the position, you’re asking them to play the position at the highest level that it can be played at. I don’t think that’s a way to sustain a good offensive line and add depth.”
After putting together a group that struggled in 2015, especially in the first half of the season, the Seahawks have multiple decisions to make about the near- and long-term future of their offensive line.
Cable believes the proliferation of spread offenses is making it increasingly difficult to find quality offensive linemen out of college. However, Tobeck, who played at Washington State in the early 90s, says that while players coming from high-volume passing attack offenses such as the Cougars’ might not be as adept at run blocking early on, they are still better prepared than most at pass protection.
“You’re getting 60, 70, 80 reps a game, throwing the football against a defense that knows you’re gonna throw the football,” Tobeck said. “(The defense is) not worried about the run, and if you can hold up under those situations, generally speaking, I would think as an offensive-line coach in the NFL, you’d say, ‘Hey, I know that guy can pass block, he’s had plenty of reps, he’s done it, he can do it well, he’s done it at a high level in college, why don’t we take a chance on a guy like that?'”
Tobeck, who spent seven of his 14 NFL seasons in Seattle, said the Seahawks’ 2015 line was missing a leader at the start of the season, and never seemed to have set the proper goals.
“I just don’t think the standard was there among the guys,” he said. “As an offensive line unit, you have to have a standard for yourselves, no matter what the coach says, the media says, anybody’s expectations of you. You have to have a standard for yourself and that standard better be higher than what the people around you have for you.”
With right guard J.R. Sweezy and left tackle Russell Okung set to be unrestricted free agents and center Patrick Lewis set to be a restricted free agent, Tobeck noted that they are all “ultimately replaceable” but that he’s most intrigued to see whether Lewis can develop. With that said, he feels Okung might be the most difficult to replace.
“Maybe if you’re gonna pick one guy out of the bunch to say, ‘Hey, we’ve got to make an effort to re-sign this guy,’ he’d be the one,” Tobeck said. “But it’s gotta be for the right price. You can’t break the bank for him because he hasn’t been able to stay healthy.”
Tobeck believes the Seahawks’ offensive line, and the team as a whole, could use an injection of a few more veterans.
“Look, we’ve got a great offensive-line coach, but coaches aside, it helps to have some veteran guys in the locker room, some guys who have been there, done it, have a track record of doing it,” he said. “Some guys that the younger guys can look to, ask questions of. You need a few of those guys on your team, and you need a few of those guys on your offensive line.”