After struggling to field a quality offensive line in recent seasons, the Seattle Seahawks hope hiring veteran coach Mike Solari will pay dividends right away and bring the best out of a mostly unchanged unit.
According to former Seahawks defensive end Cliff Avril, however, fans shouldn’t get their hopes up about the line improving too much in Solari’s inaugural season.
Avril, who co-hosts the Cliff and Puck show on KJR-AM radio, likes the players Solari has to work with. But as he opined on Thursday, with the Seahawks adjusting to an offensive scheme with more power running concepts, he suspects the first year will be very difficult and it will take some time for the group to gel.
“They have a good group of guys,” Avril said. “But I do know going from one type of system to another can be very difficult for the young players to adapt to because still they’re trying to figure out who they are as players.”
Rather than make wholesale personnel changes, Seattle maintained most of its starting offensive line from the end of the 2017 season, believing a coaching change would be more impactful. Aside from swapping Luke Joeckel in favor of free agent guard D.J. Fluker, the rest of the starting group remains intact, including left tackle Duane Brown.
While Avril believes a seasoned veteran like Brown will be able to learn a new system seamlessly due to his “old school mentality,” he’s far more pessimistic about younger players grasping a new style as quickly.
“These young players nowadays come into the league like, college football isn’t a run the ball down your throat type of [football],” Avril said. “It’s a different mentality, it’s a different type of physical thing that the game brings.”
When asked which positions along the line concern him most, Avril “grunted” with displeasure in regards to Pocic and Ifedi. He specifically went after Ifedi, who struggled mightily with penalties during his first year as a starter at right tackle.
Acknowledging that Ifedi possesses the look and physical traits of an offensive lineman, Avril indicated the former first round selection must grow up mentally and stop feeling entitled before he can further his development as a player.
“Most players nowadays, they have this attitude of feeling like everything should be given to ’em. That’s what his approach has been the past few years and I think that’s why he hasn’t taken that next step.”
Though he dogged his former teammate in regards to his mental makeup, Avril remains confident that if Ifedi figures out this area of his game, he has a chance to still be a “beast” for the Seahawks. Much as Brown mentioned earlier this offseason, becoming more mature will be the key to unlocking Ifedi’s potential and lead to a big season.
Time will tell how quickly the Seahawks adapt to Solari’s approach. Based on Avril’s viewpoint, fans will need to exhibit patience and not expect instant results as the unit grows together in a different system.