"Would you shut that damn door? I'm trying to take a shit here!" -Charles Baudelaire
Okay, I'm don't know Baudelaire ever said that, but I'd bet he said something like that at some point. That fabrication is my oh-so-subtle way of airing a grievance: I detest when stupid quotes are attributed to smart people and therefore venerated. You've no doubt heard this one from someone you despise (probably you're boss):
" The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result." -Albert Einstein
Jesus, and I thought that was the definition of practice. When I re-taught myself a stick a few months back and ground the gears a couple times I shouldn't have stuck to the things I knew worked, but instead done things at random hoping something different would magically work. I wouldn't want dead Einstein to think me insane.
Lawrence Jackson did mostly the same thing, the same quick step off the snap, the same attempts at pass rush moves, but, I'm glad to say, had much better results. The kid's a rookie. Sometimes you score with a Brandon Mebane, get a guy you can insert into the lineup and just forget about in between his spectacular plays, but usually you get a guy like...oh, I don't know, Aaron Kampman, Justin Tuck and Mario Williams. Guys who take a little while to get to NFL speed, but end up great players. Therefore, game to game strides are important. Before we talk a little Jackson, Darryl Tapp and Baraka Atkins, a couple first half notes.
The Leroy Hill Dilemma:
Run: -1U, 4S, 1U, 3U, 1U, 3U
Pass: 27FD, 5S, 2FD, 4S,
I don't usually discredit a player for a hustle tackle, and Hill chasing Brent Celek 20 yards to catch him after a gain of 27 was certainly hustle, but it was his own blown coverage that put them there. Pretty simple stuff so I'll save the set up, Julian Peterson blitzes, Hill begins to slide right to assume the vacated zone and cover Celek, sees Brian Westbrook, cuts back left towards Westbrook and leaves Celek wide open for the easy outlet.
The truth is, Leroy Hill really was better in coverage last season. His tackle numbers are through the roof, 71 with half the season to play. That's a result of Lofa Tatupu ailing or missing, Julian Peterson blitzing more than ever and a bad team facing the third most defensive plays per game. (Curious? Behind San Diego and Chicago.) Should he hit free agency this spring, he'll be paid as the top flight run stuffer he is. The tackle totals will further inflate his cost. Hill is talented, and given their respective strengths, should be given a share of Peterson's pass rush attempts, but, accepting his weaknesses as a pass defender, is he worth what he will be paid? And so we file another chapter in the Leroy Dilemma with still no clear answer.
Deon Grant Free Safety:
I know I've written that before. Grant displayed his Freeness on consecutive plays in the first. First blowing coverage matched one-on-one against Celek. Celek slipped him off the line and then just outran him to the spot. And then intercepting a Donovan McNabb pass targeting DeSean Jackson on the next play. First play, man coverage/blown coverage. Second play, deep zone/interception. See Jim Mora and John Marshall?
That's the collateral damage of Brian Russell. The team wouldn't dare play him at strong safety and starting him forces Grant out of position.
Tapp, Jackson and Atkins:
Say what you will about Tra Thomas, his best years are behind him, but he's still a decent to below average left tackle. Play for play, he's a step down in pass protection from Chad Clifton, but I wouldn't say the step down is so great as to discredit Jackson's play. He was more active, attacking Thomas, cutting in, getting a good push to separate and actually pressuring McNabb into premature passes.
Tapp looked like himself. Getting off blockers and getting clear looks to the quarterback, but often brushed back against the run and either in on the tackle or out of the play. Tapp just turned 24 two months ago, so we can say if he grows into this mold, just improves on the player he is, he'll make a solid if not supremely rounded defensive end.
Both wore down as a drives extended. Those who think Seattle will be targeting another end aren't off base. I watch this D sometimes and think they miss Ellis Wyms.
Who for a handful of snaps looked pretty darn good. Yeah, really. He has a decent bull rush, is rarely handled by offensive lineman, was seen shedding a tight end (woot) and is already a better overall run defender than Tapp. Curious to see how this plays out. It's a small blessing for a team without realistic playoffs hopes that they get the rest of this season to take an extended look at Atkins. He's not without talent. Given his extremely limited looks, he produced more than most know, including a tackle for a loss and a quarterback hit. He's cheap and young and the type to make strides in leaps.