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A Chink in the Armor?: Paul McQuistan

On Friday I will be posting the "prime match-ups to watch" as usual, but I wanted to take some time out to take a closer look at one area which was a big part of the Seahawks undoing last week against the Colts.

Don McPeak-USA TODAY Sports

That weak spot? Paul McQuistan, the Seahawks guard who has slid over to LT in the wake of Russel Okung's injury. Against the Titans, McQuistan will be matched up with a combination of Ropati Pitoitua, Kam Wimbley, and Akeem Ayers.

McQuistan struggled mightily last week against the Colts' Robert Mathis, allowing a sack and six hurries, including one which forced an INT late in the game. To be fair, many tackles will look bad against Mathis, who is almost ageless at this point, but McQuistan's move to LT has been rough going all season long and Seahawks fans have been clamoring for a change at that spot.

That change doesn't look likely to happen this week however. Pitoitua has been playing very well so far this year, and has almost forced Wimbley entirely out of the lineup, all the more impressive considering how much Wimbley is being paid. This is a departure from the Reinfeldt years of not owning up to FA/Contract errors and forcing players onto the field simply because they are being compensated at a high level.

I thought "RoPo" was a great addition, since he has been a starter-level player since entering the league, but his chances to lock up a regular starting job on more than one team have been derailed by bad injuries. I was actually pretty fascinated by him years ago: I remember a segment on the Jets "Hard Knocks" where they lost Pitoitua for the year in a pre-season game and Rex Ryan went off the handle, saying more than once that the Jets' season was down the tubes. Now, that was obviously hyperbole on Ryan's part, but it just goes to show the ability this guy has and the effect he can have on a defensive line. The fact that Ruston Webster was able to bring him in on the cheap was a fantastic move on his part.

Aside from simply aiding in stopping the run, Pitoitua has gotten to the QB three times this year so far as well, and alongside Ayers and Wimbley, will have a good chance to impact the game on Sunday. Akeem Ayers is looking to be getting back to form after a pre-season injury and will likely be seeing the field more at defensive end which will help put more pressure on Russell Wilson. I expect a lot from Ayers down the stretch this year, and his ability to bring pressure from both his LOLB spot as well as from defensive end will continue to be a real asset to a defense that is allowing a third down conversion rate of just 28%. While Wilson has no doubt been very good for the Hawks this year, he is not playing at his accurate 2012 level, and he has shown a tendency to become less careful with the ball when put under pressure.

On a strong Seahawks team, Jerry Gray and Gregg Williams will need to take advantage of everything they can to influence the game on the defensive side of the ball. Containing the pocket to limit Wilson's running lanes and bringing extra defenders to halt Lynch and the Seahawks running game will be paramount to a successful day, but targeting McQuistan and bringing extra heat on his side of the line may the biggest key to victory on Sunday.