I'm running a notes section this week. Today I present the first third of the game. Up to the point where Josh Wilson retrieved a comically dumb pass by Brett Favre. Today's emphasis is on Kyle Williams, how Seattle survived Kyle Williams, Maurice Morris, the frenetic Will Herring and secret Santa Kevin Hobbs.
Surviving Kyle Williams: The first step is matching him against Kenyon Coleman. The journeyman is not what an excitable fan would call a "force". The second step is to protect him. Seattle ran four two tight end sets, two shotgun sets, chipped Coleman once with Leonard Weaver and even ran a max protect. Only the max protect and shotgun overlapped, meaning the Hawks kept it conservative on seven of its first thirteen offensive plays. The third step is to face a Jets team with its head arseways. New York, presumably completely content not to scout Seattle, blitzed only once - an impossibly slow safety blitz that managed to avoid Seattle's seven blockers and contributed to an incomplete - and twice rushed three. The fourth step is to avoid Williams. Seattle ran eight plays (runs + passes) to the right before attempting a play (run) off left end. And that run segues nicely into the final, secret step: get a pretty good showing out of Williams. It took a quarter, but Seattle finally looked left. Morris rushed off left end, and Williams got into space and executed a svelte little, squared shoulders, feet a movin', knees high, pull block to provide the edge.
Morris versus the line: Runner rushes for 100+. Quarterback avoids being sacked. The line must have played well. I'm not so smart or old to know, but I think the 90s Cowboys must have inaugurated the age of overrated line play. Obviously, the offensive line matters. A great one gets you far. I'm not so sure a great one gets you farther than any other five great players. My complaint is that for all the attention given the importance of offensive lines, it doesn't seem too many people bother to pay attention to them. Instead, the line gets the love once reserved for skill position players. I mean, maybe Maurice Morris was mostly responsible for his hundred yards. He wasn't exactly draggin' ass through gaping holes.
As a quick and dirty measure of Morris's effectiveness versus the effectiveness of the line, I decided to track Morris's yardage after first contact. To this point, Morris had 31 yards rushing on five carries. That's what I call damn good. 11 yards came after contact. That's 21 yards achieved before contact. A testament to Seattle's run blocking. 10 yards came on a thirteen yard run off right end. Ray Willis, the lone remaining starter from Seattle's week one line, was the star of that run. Nevertheless, Morris rushes were almost exclusively outside, and though the line deserves credit for creating an edge, Morris deserves more for finding a corner. A third into the game, it's a toss up: Both deserve credit.
Pinball Wizard: Get this kid some Adderall! I've never seen a linebacker so incapable of finishing any one action before beginning another. God put quicksilver in his veins and it's seeped into his brains. Kid's just goofy agile, real quick and goofy frenetic. Jitters aside, Will Herring brings some interesting qualities. First, let's talk Herring the run stuffer. He's not. Herring stays above the scrum so that his tackles tend to come a couples yards too late. He had two to this point, one after seven and one after four. He's a much better pass defender than Leroy Hill. Brett Favre seemed to sense that and twice looked Herring's way before targeting another receiver. He's Slim Jim lean, and looks more safety than linebacker, but you can't discount the potential. He needs another ten+ pounds of bulk, and that's going to bite a little into his speed and agility, but understand he ran a 4.57/40 and 6.56/3 Cone (.31 seconds faster than Marcus Trufant and likely fastest on the roster), so the potential to fill out and retain what makes him is there. Because a little lost frenzy might do Herring some good.
Little Play Kevin Hobbs: Little like holding coverage, as opposed to big like Jordan Babineaux's accidental serendipity. With Babs nursing an ailing brain, Hobbs got the nod at dime and, hallelujah! Hobbs alternated with Herring to improve Seattle's mediocre defense against slot receivers. Before Darryl Tapp and Brandon Mebane one-twoed Favre into the turf, Hobbs closed on his Favre's outlet receiver. A little play that meant a lot.
Lawrence Jackson continues to heat up. His motor and improved pass rush helped Seattle's team pass rush.
Forgotten man Lofa Tatupu had a classic Tatupu moment, chucking Tony Richardson with a double forearm shiver before closing on Thomas Jones after three.
...and Brian Russell had a classic Russell moment on Laveranues Cole's 23 yard reception. I've sort of exhausted my disdain for the guy, but it's all there: The pointless and ultimately debilitating run towards the line, the disappearance, the after the fact hit, this time in the form of a hearty man hug on a clearly down Coles - It's an orgy of Brian Russell awesome fit only for the true connoisseur.
A final, less schadefreude inspired note, John Marshall has figured out the three man rush. Brandon Mebane, Rocky Bernard and Lawrence Jackson comprised Seattle's three man front on Josh Wilson's first pick. Nose tackle Bernard got the late pressure to force the wobbly, cross-bodied throw.