Duane Brown spent the first decade of his NFL career in Houston, but was traded to Seattle this fall. The Seahawks, he says, are a better fit for his personality and politics, and now, Brown wants to finish his career in Seattle
Most afternoons before practice, you can find the elder statesman of the Seahawks’ offensive line sitting quietly in his locker, studying game film on his iPad before it’s time to get on the field.
In the month since he arrived in Seattle via a trade with Houston, left tackle Duane Brown has taken it upon himself to learn as much as he can about his new team.
In many respects, he’s still new to Seattle – both the city and the franchise. Yet in some ways Seattle already feel like home, Brown says.
The 6-foot-4, 305-pounder has started every game for the Seahawks since he joined the team, and his veteran presence has brought stability to the offensive line.
“Duane is playing great football. He is really unbelievably solid for us,” Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said Monday as the Seahawks try to regroup after an emotional loss at Jacksonville and prepare for a potential season-defining game against their NFC West rival, the Los Angeles Rams, on Sunday at CenturyLink Field.
But Brown also has meshed with his new team off the field. After spending the first decade of his career in Houston, Brown says the Seahawks are a better fit for him in terms of his personality and politics.
Case in point: Brown has joined teammate Michael Bennett and most of the defensive linemen on the bench during their season-long pregame protest during the national anthem, to support the rights of oppressed people.
“A lot of the guys have the same beliefs and ideals that I have,” Brown said. “And it’s an organization that supports that. They support you speaking up for the things that you believe in. It’s been great so far. … It makes it a lot more comfortable in the building and in your interactions with people on the day to day for sure.”
Before his trade to Seattle, Brown criticized Texans owner Bob McNair after McNair commented in October that NFL owners couldn’t have “the inmates running the prison.” McNair made the comment at an NFL owners meeting that was called to discuss NFL players’ protests during the national anthem, and he later apologized.
Brown was outspoken about how upset the Texans players were with McNair, telling ESPN at the time, “I think it was ignorant. I think it was embarrassing. It angered many players, including myself. We put our bodies and minds on the line every time we step on that field, and to use an analogy of inmates in prison, that’s disrespectful.”
Less than a week after Brown publicly denounced McNair’s comment, he was traded to Seattle.
So far, the trade looks like a win-win situation for Brown and the Seahawks, who gave up a 2018 third-round draft pick and a 2019 second-round pick.
Brown, 32, is on a one-year contract with the Seahawks, but “I would love to finish my career here,” he said.
“It’s been an easy transition for me,” Brown said. “I’ve had a lot of respect for the organization for a long time. … There’s a lot of success here, a great mentality. There’s a brotherhood here. Everyone governs themselves and holds each other accountable.
“There’s a lot of great leadership in this locker room, and just a tremendous amount of resiliency in the way they play. I’m honored to be part of it.”
This season has been eventful for Brown, who missed the first seven games because of a contract holdout. Brown returned to the Texans’ lineup that week of Houston’s game against the Seahawks, played in Seattle that Sunday and flew back to Houston with the team, only to return to Seattle the following Tuesday after the Texans told him he’d been traded to the Seahawks.
Brown made his first career start for Seattle five days later, against Washington. Brown injured an ankle in the Seahawks’ win over Arizona the following week but has played through the injury, starting every game.
“It’s really amazing that he’s been able to do that,” Carroll said. “Other than having to deal with his ankle, he hasn’t missed a step as far as showing up in the games and playing the games from start to finish, and doing everything. It’s really impressive.”
How impressive has Brown been?
In Brown’s first five starts for Seattle, he’s allowed only nine pressures and one sack, according to Pro Football Focus. Also, before Brown joined the Seahawks they ranked 30th in the NFL in pass-blocking efficiency and had allowed 110 pressures on 296 pass-blocking snaps, according to Pro Football Focus.
Entering last week’s game at Jacksonville, the Seahawks had allowed only 50 pressures in 219 pass-blocking snaps with Brown at left tackle and ranked 10th in the NFL in pass-blocking efficiency.
Left guard Luke Joeckel’s return from midseason knee surgery three weeks ago to pair with Brown on the left side also has helped.
The Seahawks’ O-line allowed only two sacks against the Jaguars, who had the NFL’s No. 1 defense. Despite the loss, Carroll said the offensive line was “much more consistent than we had been” with “fewer mistakes” and “fewer air balls, where guys penetrate and get in the backfield.”
For Brown, a three-time Pro Bowler, it has been gratifying to help Seattle’s young offensive linemen develop.
As a 10-year veteran, Brown has more experience than fourth-year center Justin Britt, rookie right guard Ethan Pocic and second-year right tackle Germain Ifedi combined.
This sometimes makes Brown, 32, feel old.
“Ethan Pocic told me that when I was a rookie he was in eighth grade,” Brown said, grinning.
Early in his tenure with Seattle, Brown says he focused mostly on trying to learn the Seahawks’ system. But he recently tried to take a more active role in helping to guide the Seahawks’ young linemen, and they’ve taken well to his attempt at leadership, he says.
“Now that I’ve been here a few weeks, I’m just trying to lend my experience and lend everything I’ve learned over the years playing in this league,” Brown said. “Whether it comes to football and playing and technique, whether it’s defenses and things I’ve seen, whether it’s life outside of football. Just trying to share the things I’ve seen.
“It’s been really great. They’ve really tuned into everything I’ve been able to offer as far as my experience, so it’s been great so far.”