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#HawksMailbag - October 30: Inquiries on the O-line abound

Posted Oct 30, 2013

Answering your questions about the club on a weekly basis.

Welcome to another edition of #HawksMailbag here on Seahawks.com, our weekly Q & A session with you - the 12th Man.

Following Monday night's 14-9 win over the St. Louis Rams, the majority of your questions landed on one of two topics: The struggling offensive line or the lack of touches for running back Marshawn Lynch. Instead of answering each of your specific questions individually, I tried to hit on several points in a single question. Let's get down to it.

You're probably familiar with the saying, "The backup quarterback is the most popular guy in town." It's a common way to think when a team's starter is struggling. And I think that's what you're getting at here, but at the left tackle position.

For an undrafted rookie, Alvin Bailey did impress during preseason. He often held off pass rushers without help and provided a strong presence in the run game. But again, it was preseason. So while Bailey appears to have the size and skill set that assistant head coach/offensive line coach Tom Cable covets, I believe we would have seen the move made by now if Cable truly considers Bailey to be the better option to protect quarterback Russell Wilson's blind side.

Paul McQuistan is in a tough situation, no doubt about that. Despite filling in at the spot for four games in 2011 when Russell Okung went on injured reserve with a torn pectoral muscle, the transition from left guard to left tackle has not been easy this year. The Seahawks know they need to improve there - and elsewhere - along the offensive line. Head coach Pete Carroll has made it clear that they'll work with the lineman on hand as they await the return of the left tackle Okung (toe) and right tackle Breno Giacomini (knee).

The good news? In his weekly Wednesday press conference, Carroll said he expects Okung to be practicing by this Friday with the hope of returning in time for the team's Week 11 game against the Minnesota Vikings. That game is the earliest possible return date for Okung, who is on the team's Injured Reserve/Designated to Return list.

No injury was reported for running back Marshawn Lynch over the course of Monday night's game against the Rams. It's a fair question though, as the team's Pro Bowl back received just eight carries.

Outside of injury, there are some other factors to consider when looking at Lynch's workload - or lack thereof - on Monday night. The Seahawks ran just 40 total plays on offense after averaging roughly 65 plays over their first seven games. That not only meant less plays for Lynch, but less plays for everybody else on offense, too.

We know the offensive line struggled in pass protection, but they didn't open up many holes in the run game, either. Couple that with the fact the Seahawks went 2-of-11 (18 percent) on third down and managed just seven first downs in the entire game and you're not going to get much production out of Lynch, regardless of the amount of touches he receives.

Head coach Pete Carroll did express disappointment in the volume of work that went Lynch's way on Monday night, most notably on two second-quarter goal-line keepers by quarterback Russell Wilson. Carroll said Wilson made the wrong read on the play.

"Nobody was more frustrated than me," Carroll said of Lynch's lack of touches.

When you put two elite edge-rushers like Rams defensive ends Chris Long and Robert Quinn against a pair of backup offensive tackles in Paul McQuistan and Michael Bowie, the results usually aren't going to go in Seattle's favor. They certainly didn't on Monday night, when Long and Quinn racked up three sacks apiece as St. Louis brought down quarterback Russell Wilson a career-high seven times.

The Rams defense seems to match up very well with Seahawks. Postgame, you may have heard comments from Wilson or cornerback Richard Sherman on the unique challenge the Rams have posed in recent meetings between the two clubs. Think back to last year's season finale in Seattle, a game when the Rams defensive line totaled six sacks on Wilson, including three from Long. That matchup took a game-winning drive from Wilson with under two minutes to play to ensure a 20-13 Seahawks victory. In fact, since Jeff Fisher took over as head coach of the Rams in 2012, games between the two NFC West rivals have been decided by seven points or less.

Not to take the heat off of the team's offensive line. They do need to improve and the club knows it. But I think adding some historical context to the situation helps before we claim an all-out regression from the unit up front.

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