The tough guys hang out in the trenches.
And that’s where you’ll find Robert Gallery, the Seattle Seahawks’ newest addition to a young offensive line.
The former member of the Oakland Raiders followed his head coach Tom Cable to Seattle in free agency, but because of NFL rules he can’t hit the field until Thursday, when the league year officially begins.
Even watching his teammates from the sideline, Gallery can’t help but work on his technique during practice.
However, he understands that no matter how good your footwork, the success of Seattle’s offensive line comes down to one thing – toughness.
“Some guys don’t have that mentality,” Gallery said. “Not all guys will be like that, but if you’re like me, I live for that stuff. The downfield stuff, cutting guys – all legal stuff, but it’s stuff that slows guys down. That’s football. As long as you’re doing it to the whistle, that wears on defensive guys. That’s the way you want to be as a lineman. You want to beat them down until they won’t get up.”
Gallery and Cable were brought in to help jump-start a Seattle running game on life support.
Now in year four of trying to install the zone blocking scheme, the Seahawks have not finished in the top half of the league in rushing since 2006. Seattle hasn’t had a 1,000-yard rusher since Shaun Alexander ran for 1,880 yards, winning league MVP honors in 2005.
The Seahawks appeared to bottom out last season, finishing next-to-last in rushing by averaging 89 yards a contest. Making matters worse, Seattle spun through 10 different starting offensive line combinations during the season, making it hard to develop the chemistry needed up front to establish a dominant run game.
One of the few bright spots for Seattle was Marshawn Lynch’s 67-yard rumble for the clinching touchdown against New Orleans in the NFC wild card playoffs, but even that highlight had more to do with the Cal product’s ability to break tackles than textbook blocking.
But Gallery and Cable expect change. And they bring credibility because they both helped turn around Oakland’s running game. Cable joined the Raiders as the team’s offensive line coach in 2007 and promoted to interim coach in 2008, and by the time he left, the Raiders were one of the better running teams in the league, averaging 156 yards a contest last season, second-best in the NFL.
“When I got to Oakland, there was a mentality change,” Cable said. “They were 31st (29th actually) in rushing, I believe, and we went to sixth in the first year. Everybody involved kind of got on board right away. But there was a transition period of changing that mentality, and we’ll do the same thing here.”
Cable said Gallery is a key part of making that happen.
“He’s been through it and he understands it,” Cable said. “We actually laugh a little about it right now because he sees how it needs to change, and these guys are going through it just like he did back then. So he’ll definitely help that way.”
The 31-year-old Gallery said his close relationship with Cable played a major role in his decision as a free agent to join the Seahawks. Gallery, drafted second overall by the Raiders in 2004, originally was slotted to play left tackle. But after he struggled to learn the position, Cable moved him to left guard when the Snohomish product joined the team three years later, and Gallery thrived.
“I respected him so much that I knew that I didn’t have to come check it out beforehand,” Gallery said about his decision to join Seattle. “If he tells me that, that’s the relationship that we have. If he tells me something, I know it’s on. There’s no BS behind it.