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 rookie 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, the 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.
On 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,” Ifedi 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 mentioned Ifedi’s need to eliminate false-start penalties. Ifedi has had four of those in the last two games, including three in the win over Los Angeles on Dec. 15.
He has seven flags this season, including one for unsportsmanlike conduct while scrapping after a play on 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 presnap 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: 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 Ifedi 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.
“Just the speed of play. The margin of error is a lot lower,” he said. “This is the NFL. You’ve got to do right. You can’t really have those mistakes you make in college. You really have to hone in on what you are doing, or you are going to get exposed pretty quickly.”
With the four-year, $8.25 million contract — with $6.69 million in guarantees — he signed in May and his salary-cap charge of just over $1.5 million for this year, according to overthecap.com, Ifedi is Seattle’s highest-paid offensive lineman.
But that’s not saying much.
The Seahawks began this season with the league’s lowest-paid line. Then they cut J’Marcus Webb. The inert, veteran guard-tackle had been the team’s highest-paid blocker after signing a two-year contract with $2.45 million guaranteed in March.
Now Ifedi’s new money leads a line that includes a first-time center in Justin Britt, undrafted rookie college basketball player George Fant at left tackle, first full-time starter Mark Glowinski at left guard and former Penn State tight end Garry Gilliam as the right tackle.
The line’s inconsistency has been part of the reason the Seahawks have gone from having one of the top rushing offenses for years to 22nd now. Lead back Thomas Rawls’ cracked fibula and bruised shoulder have been other, key reasons.
So have Wilson’s sprained ankle and sprained knee. He played through those when doctors told him he should sit for four weeks beginning in September. That took away the quarterback’s usual running for almost three months.
Then again, the line’s issues in protecting him are how Wilson got hurt.
Yet Wilson on Thursday reiterated his faith in his blockers.
“I have no doubt in what they can do,” said Seattle’s $87.6 million franchise quarterback. “I have all the confidence in the world in those guys.
“I think the thing for us, we just have to be consistent,” Wilson said, “and that’s across the board. We have to continue to find ways. ...
“It’s just a little bit more focus here and there, I think that’s really the only thing that we need to do. ... We got a lot of young guys, which is a good thing. I think we have a lot of young guys that are new to the team and different faces, and every year that is going to be a new journey.
“In terms of finding the tenacity in every game, I think it’s just within. I think it’s communication, execution. I think it’s continuing to be engaged and continuing to find the importance in every single play, every single detail. The more we can tap into that, the better chance we have to be successful. I think that’s really the key.
“I don’t think we’re far off, at all.”
Gregg Bell: @gbellseattle