Coordinator Brian Schottenheimer on OT George Fant as a slot WR, Seahawks offense facing Chargers
Backup offensive tackle George Fant made his first start in two years last weekend.
Yep, all 6 feet 5 and 322 pounds of Fant lined up outside right as a slot wide receiver to begin the Seahawks’ win at Detroit last Sunday. That was about 5 yards further outside than he’d been playing in the last month as an extra, blocking tight end immediately next to one of Seattle’s starting tackles, either Duane Brown or Germain Ifedi.
Chris Carson ran inside Fant, and behind right tackle Ifedi, for 9 yards on that first play.
Offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer was giving the Lions—plus this Sunday’s opponent, the Los Angeles Chargers, and every other foe the final nine weeks of the regular season—a different look to consider with Fant.
It was a look that freaked out Darius Slay.
The Lions’ nickel defensive back had the responsibility of lining up opposite any slot receiver to begin the game. Imagine Slay’s horror when that slot receiver was 6-5, 322.
“Guys were like, ‘What the ****!’” Fant said this week, of Slay and his Lions teammates reacting to a Seahawks formation like no other for that first snap, the first of 24 snaps Fant had in Detroit as an extra blocker.
“I tried to grab Slay (to block him) and he was like, ‘WHOA!’”
Later in the game, Fant, lined up back inside on the line as an extra tight end, actually ran a short crossing route—and almost ran over teammate Nick Vannett, when the other tight end got caught in traffic coming off the line.
Schottenheimer laughed when I asked the play caller how many times in his 10 years as an NFL coordinator he’s split out a 330-pound tackle in the slot.
“That’s probably the first time,” Schottenheimer said. “He did a nice job out. The nickel was kind of surprised. The first play of the game he was like, ‘What are YOU doing out here?’
“But it’s been cool. George has done a great job. Obviously, we are looking at some of the things we want to do with him. He’s a smart kid. He loves it. It just gives us an added advantage.”
Fant as an extra tight end began in the first weeks of this season, out of necessity. Starter Ed Dickson missed the first six games until his debut in Detroit. Then on Sept. 30 impressive rookie Will Dissly sustained a serious knee injury. He had season-ending surgery and is on injured reserve.
Schottenheimer said Fant embraces the extra roles besides tackle, that the roles are important to him. That may be because Fant is trying to get Schottenheimer to call for Russell Wilson to throw a pass his way. There are plays in Seattle’s playbook for that, so don’t be shocked if it happens at some point this season.
Regardless of what Schottenheimer and Fant have in store for the Chargers Sunday, Fant is going to wow more guys on Monday.
The former college basketball power forward at Western Kentucky who played only a couple months of football before Seattle signed him into the NFL as an undrafted rookie in 2015 is hosting his WKU basketball team at Seahawks headquarters Monday.
That’s a day before Fant will be courtside—talking trash, he promises—when his Hilltoppers open the 2018-19 college basketball season at the 25th-ranked Washington Huskies at Hec Edmundson Pavilion Tuesday night.
Fant has been looking forward to this game since he found out about it this spring. When the WKU hoops team decided to come to Seattle early for its opener at UW, this weekend, Fant invited them to Sunday’s Seahawks game. The Hilltoppers will be there, too.
To see where Fant is going to line up next for the Seahawks.