Seattle Seahawks

Top rookie lineman Ifedi assesses his season

It has been a rough season for Seattle guard Germaine Ifedi and the rest of the offensive line. Here he blocks for quarterback Russell Wilson against the Los Angeles Rams on Thursday, Dec. 15, 2016, in Seattle.
It has been a rough season for Seattle guard Germaine Ifedi and the rest of the offensive line. Here he blocks for quarterback Russell Wilson against the Los Angeles Rams on Thursday, Dec. 15, 2016, in Seattle. The Associated Press

Nobody wants to hear it.

Not Russell Wilson. Not, at least, while the Seahawks’ quarterback was getting sacked a half-dozen times and getting hit more than twice that amount in his most recent game.

Not coaches. For them, excuses are inexcusable.

And not you. Not while watching the inconsistency of Seattle’s maligned, low-cost offensive line mar the NFC West champions’ entry into the playoffs.

People don’t want to hear that this rookie season Germain Ifedi has been in a spot he’s never played before this fall.

“Just learning how to play the guard position again,” he said at his locker Thursday before the Seahawks’ final full practice of the regular season. “I’ve never played guard in an offense like this, or really any type of pro-style offense.”

It has shown. His inconsistency mirrors that of the line – and the entire Seahawks’ offense.

In last weekend’s home loss to Arizona, Cardinals stormed free past the right guard and his fellow blockers for five sacks in the first half. The Seahawks ran 10 plays inside the Arizona 10-yard line without scoring a touchdown. Malfunctions piled on top of each other.

In the second half, the Seahawks (9-5-1) allowed one sack – and scored 28 of their 31 points. They rallied improbably into a tie late before losing on a Cardinals final-play field goal.

Thursday, Seattle’s No. 1 draft choice was asked how he assesses his debut season.

“Just learning all the ins and outs of playing guard,” he said after a moment of thought, “and getting used to how NFL D-tackles play.”

On Sunday, Ifedi will make his 13th consecutive start at right guard, at San Francisco (2-13). The 49ers’ defense is ranked last in the NFL in rushing yards, passing yards and points allowed.

Before this season Ifedi was a right tackle for the final two of his three years in Texas A&M’s wild, no-huddle, spread offense. He was the right guard once, as a freshman three years ago. He blocked for A&M’s Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Johnny Manziel.

After drafting Ifedi in the first round at 31st overall last spring, veteran line coach Tom Cable and the Seahawks moved him back to guard in May’s first minicamp.

On Wednesday Cable raised more than an eyebrow when he said Ifedi has been “fairly dominant” recently. Perhaps nobody else on God’s green earth has used those words for a member of Seattle’s offensive line this season.

Cable also mentioned Ifedi’s need to eliminate false-start penalties. He’s had four in the last two games, including three in the win over Los Angeles on Dec. 15.

He has seven flags this season, including for unsportsmanlike conduct scrapping after a play Oct. 23 at Arizona. That was reminiscent of training camp. Ifedi fought almost daily after whistles with Seahawks veteran defenders, most often Pro Bowl defensive end Michael Bennett.

Those summer practices seem like decades ago. How does Ifedi feel he’s done since overcoming a high-ankle sprain that cost him the season’s first three games?

“It’s been good,” he said. “I think we’ve had some moments, communication moments. Getting pre-snap penalties out of there.”

“Overall, it’s been good. I’ve been pleased with what I’ve been able to do as the season’s gone on. I think the potential is there to be really good. It’s just, I’ve got to find the consistency and I think I’ll be fine.”

Cable’s assessment of Ifedi’s play may not have been all that surprising considering: what else is the coach going to say in Week 17? What else can he do but portray hope and confidence in what he has? His team is heading into the postseason with the line not about to change and Ifedi not going anywhere but into his first NFL playoffs in the same spot he’s been all season.

Cable’s words came in response to being asked if the Seahawks might move Ifedi to tackle in the future.

“Not right now,” Cable said.

“Most of the last few weeks he’s been fairly dominant. I don’t know, when you really break it down on film what I want to take out is some false starts. I think that’s the part to me that is negative. In terms of how he’s knocking people off the ball and finishing and those sorts of things, it’s pretty good.”

The Seahawks may or may not see him as a tackle in the far future. For now, it’s certainly not Ifedi’s place to voice an opinion.

“It just depends where they want me to play,” he said. “I’m a guard until they say I’m not.

“After I got used to it and I started getting everything down, it’s a good position (for me), and I thought I could do good things with it.”

Ifedi said the chief lessons of his rookie season include the quickness at which he must make moves and decisions.

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