Seahawks line coach Tom Cable is a rebel; he always has been. And the 50 year old from Snonhomish, Washington is changing the way the game is played.
From the coaching tree of Jim Mora, Cable is a fan of the “dirtbag” offensive lineman that is becoming rare these days.
Cable has turned to former defensive linemen to fulfill his paradigm shifting vision to get the brutality back in the NFL game.
Tom Cable looks at the college systems of today as having a proliferation of Air Raid (pass heavy) and Hurry-up systems that emphasize athletic superiority over mindset. And from his point of view the changes in the college game lead to less NFL-ready players.
“Unfortunately, I think we’re doing a huge disservice to offensive football players — other than a receiver — that come out of these spread systems,” Tom Cable continued. “The runners aren’t as good. They aren’t taught how to run. The blockers aren’t as good. The quarterbacks aren’t as good. They don’t know how to read coverage and throw progressions. They have no idea.”
Whether or not one agrees with Cable, is inconsequential to him. Since Cable joined the Hawks in 2011, he has advocated drafting college defensive linemen whom he can convert to NFL offensive lineman. His greatest success story is one J.R. (Justin Ross) Sweezy.
Just one look at the 6’5 301lb Sweezy can put the fear of God into most people.
The former North Carolina State defensive end and Heavyweight Wrestling Champion came to the Seahawks in the 7th round as a reach.
Cable saw something in him that was missing on the Hawks offensive Line. The highly touted (and talented) John Moffitt was the sure favorite to lockdown the guard position for years; however, something was missing. Moffitt was missing the mean, brash, and brutal nature that one J.R. Sweezy held.
While technically superior, Moffitt had a difficult time transitioning from the drive blocking scheme that he learned at Wisconsin to the Zone Blocking Scheme that Cable runs. Additionally, Moffit was missing the “play through the whistle” mentality that borders dirty play. Moffitt was quite simply not the “dirtbag” Cable was looking for. John Moffit, quite honestly reinforced his problems with many college offensive linemen.
“I’m not wanting to offend anybody, but college football, offensively, has gotten to be really, really bad fundamentally. And so you see these big bodies, and — he’s 6’5-this, and he’s 300-this, and his arms are all that, and you watch him, and he’s not a finisher, and he doesn’t strain, and he can’t pass set, and he can’t stay on balance, and he can’t play with leverage, and you start listing all these negatives, and you look at it and say, ‘I can go get a guy who runs a little faster, jumps a little higher and has an aggressive streak in him, and at least I can see that on defense, and I can start with him,” Cable said. “I’m going to have to retrain an offensive lineman out of college anyway.”
In Sweezy’s first year he did have growing pains. J.R. did get schooled against some of the finer defensive tackles in the league from Arizona, St. Louis, and San Francisco. But three years later, Sweezy has become one of the most terrifying linemen in the NFL, that all defensive linemen in the NFC West keep an eye on lest they get blindsided by this beast.
What Cable has discovered is that many high-level offensive linemen, in college, rely on physical talent rather than dogged determination and vitriol to get through a game. Many of these linemen develop bad habits (relying on superior athleticism) and benefit from high-level talent around them.
In the NFL, the gap between talent is much smaller, it is that extra determination and dedication that creates winners. Cable looks for these skills in defensive linemen and has decided he can train them good habits and technique on the job. Cable has decided why not get similarly sized athletes (defensive linemen) and train them “his way.”
Recently, the Seahawks acquired talent such as Kona Schwenke (DT Notre Dame), Drew Nowak (DT W. Michigan), and Kristjan Sokoli (DT University of Buffalo).
And although Schwenke has been released, this week Nowak gets a serious look against the San Diego Chargers at center. There is a possibility that Nowak could jump other traditional centers such as Lemuel Jean-Pierre or Patrick Lewis for the starting job.
It may take years to determine if Cable has succeeded in turning lead into gold; however, if end results are your pleasure, keep in mind that this offensive line has powered the Hawks to the #1 rushing offense in football, the #9 total offense, and 2 Super Bowls.
Unconventional, crazy, mad scientist, and rebel, Tom Cable is all of these. It should be a fun and interesting to see what his legacy will become.