Russell Okung sounded as if he were hoping somebody would come to his locker cubicle and ask him about the performance of the Seattle Seahawks’ offensive line after the season-opening loss to the Rams.
Not because he wanted to be combative or make excuses, but because he wanted to be emphatically accountable.
“I take a lot of the responsibility,” the veteran left tackle said. “I didn’t play as well in the first half, and I’ve got to be better for the rest of the group.”
The St. Louis Rams’ defense is loaded with high-draft picks and considered among the best in the league. And, as is their habit, they got after Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson, sacking him six times Sunday.
Wilson now has been sacked 31 times in seven career games against St. Louis.
“Yes, they’re definitely elite, one of the top groups in the NFL,” Okung said. “We give them the respect, but I have to protect the quarterback better. That’s unacceptable. Those guys are really good up front, and they got the best of us today.”
Okung is the longest-tenured lineman starting for the Seahawks. He and right guard J.R. Sweezy are the only players returning to their spots on the line, as left guard Justin Britt, center Drew Nowak and right tackle Garry Gilliam were starting for the first time at those positions.
“I’m so proud of the younger guys; they’re fighting their butts off, doing the best they can,” Okung said. “That’s all we can ask of them; they’re really good players and they’re going to have really long careers. I have to make it easier on them.”
Line coach Tom Cable said the performance was “kind of what I expected, quite honestly.” However, he said he found the second-half performance encouraging.
The Hawks scored 21 points in the second half, resulting from a hastened offensive tempo and quicker passes by Wilson.
“We were kind of able to speed up the tempo a little bit and we got them on their heels, but we’ve got to finish the game,” Okung said.
Carroll saw improvement from the unit, too, especially when viewed in the context of the quality of the St. Louis defensive front.
“This is as athletic a group as we are going to face,” Carroll said. “They had an edge on us early. I think once our guys settled down, they played a lot better. We felt more confident as we were working during the second half.”
Finishing the game on an upswing will be helpful heading into a week of preparation for Game 2 next Sunday night at Green Bay.
“This was a great challenge for our guys,” Carroll said. “They kind of righted it, and with the tempo change we implemented, it seemed to help us.”