Hurry up now. No time to waste. Not with Tom Cable coaching Seattle’s offensive line this season.
He demands everything be done on the hop, and that includes a trip to the water cooler during a break.
“We go very fast,” center Max Unger said.
That’s because Seattle has a long way to go, and a short time to get there. The Seahawks are three weeks deep into training camp, and Cable wants Seattle’s ground game to improve at the same pace he runs his practice: fast.
Getting a running start on offense was Seattle’s top priority this offseason. It’s why the Seahawks spent their first two draft picks on offensive linemen, signed left guard Robert Gallery in free agency and — perhaps most important — Cable was added to Seattle’s coaching staff, making the big men pant through practice.
“It’s hard,” Cable said. “You have to accept the fact it’s very difficult to run the football in this league. And then you’ve got to overcome that, and that is your will, your attitude.”
Seattle has not had a 1,000-yard rusher for five years running — or not running as it were. Shaun Alexander was the last Seahawk to surpass that mark, and it was during his MVP year of 2005. Only Detroit has gone longer without a 1,000-yard man on the ground.
It’s not like Seattle hasn’t tried to buck that downward trend. They re-signed Alexander after the Super Bowl, recruited free agents Julius Jones and T.J. Duckett in 2008 and tried to recycle future Hall of Famer Edgerrin James in 2009.
Marshawn Lynch is now the starter, acquired one-quarter of the way through last season. He will be Seattle’s fifth opening-day starter at running back in five seasons. His 67-yard touchdown run against New Orleans was one of the league’s great plays last season. It was also one of the only ground-game highlights for Seattle during a season in which the team averaged 89 yards rushing, the fourth-lowest in franchise history.
After years of rotating running backs as if they were tires, Seattle focused on changing the shape of the line in front of them, making it bigger — and the Seahawks hope — better. Seattle drafted right tackle James Carpenter in the first round and guard John Moffitt in the third. Gallery was brought in to fill the spot at left guard that has been a revolving door the previous five seasons. Each one of those new starters weighs 319 pounds or more, and while three weeks of practices and one exhibition game are not enough to form any conclusions, the first impression has been favorable.
“I like what I see,” Lynch said.
Cable is the foreman responsible for melding Seattle’s raw materials together, and he’s not the first man hired to retrofit the offensive line that used to be the strength of this team. First came Mike Solari in 2008, who stayed two years, and was replaced by Alex Gibbs, who didn’t make it to the regular season last year. Art Valero assumed the job after Gibbs resigned the week before the season began.
Cable was Oakland’s head coach the past two seasons, but he was initially hired as the team’s offensive line coach under Lane Kiffin. The Raiders had ranked No. 29 or worse in rushing each of the three seasons before he arrived. Oakland finished in the league’s top 10 in rushing yards in three of Cable’s four seasons with the franchise, and last year the Raiders ranked No. 2 in the league at 155.9 rushing yards per game.
Gallery played for Cable the past four years, which makes him the perfect person to ask what is the biggest difference for a lineman playing under Cable.
“The pace at which he runs things,” Gallery said. “He pushes guys. He wants you to push your body past what you thought you could do, and I think that’s the biggest thing, is the mentality he wants you to bring to the game. And … style of offense we run, for us to be successful, we’ve got to come off and strike people, play after play after play.”