The Tape: Mike Wahle

The Ancient Mariner pointed out this in which Mike Sando writes:

While researching a story late in the season, I spoke with a scout who had studied Wahle very closely. The scout said he thought Wahle had lost strength to the point of no longer being an effective player. Wahle was already undersized by NFL standards, having beefed up well beyond his natural weight.
Not to be a jerk but "a scout says" is possibly the lowest form of evidence. Nevertheless, because Sando wrote it, and because often the best thing to do when you're very excited about something, or very sure about something, is to consider the exact opposite, I decided to review the game tape of Seattle versus Carolina in week 15. Here's what I found.

Mike Wahle is an excellent pass defender. He's astute at making reads, knows when to disengage one player and pick up another, and cruelly opportunistic. I wonder if Wahle apologized to Darryl Tapp after signing with Seattle, because Tapp suffered more than his share of blindsides by the savvy guard. Even when the pocket flexed out around him and Wahle was placed in the unenviable spot of blocking Brandon Mebane or Howard Green in an open area, he maintained good body position and neutralized his man. Wahle handled the twist well, and when pass rushers weren't directed his way, found someone to block. Needless to say, I was very impressed.

His run blocking was similarly impressive. He regularly controlled and toppled Green, who was sorely outmatched. His pulling ability is top notch, and though he doesn't destroy his man in space (minus Brian Russell, who, on DeAngelo Williams' 35 yard TD run, Wahle could have walked into the end zone and out the stadium) he does get a body on him and take him out of the play. Wahle pulled on most of Carolina's 38 runs and was only twice shed, once by Lofa Tatupu and once by Leroy Hill. He has good footwork, runs clean routes and squares his man. He even managed to level Big Bane once - though Mebane ran back into the play and prevented a long third down conversion.

Lowlights: Wahle was flagged for a hold after hooking Mebane's arm. All in all, he didn't get a ton of push on Mebane, but Mebane's both a very good tackle and given Bane's low center of gravity, a potential matchup problem for the tall, thin guard.

Highlights: He disengaged his blocker and blindsided Tapp after Tapp had badly beat Travelle Wharton with an inside swim move. On a Seahawks blitz, he missed the snap, lost his footing in an attempt to recover, fell off to the left and still managed to take out two Seahawks. And my personal favorite, but only now that he's a Hawk, Wahle blindsides Green, knocks him hard to the right and into Craig Terrill knocking Terrill over.

Brandon Mebane is a good all around tackle, and the Hawks ended with the 5th ranked rush defense, so Wahle was facing a formidable test. The kind of things you associate with a loss of strength or explosiveness were not evident, as he sustained his blocks, dominated Green, controlled his linebacker on pulls and battled Mebane to more or less a stalemate. Having watched tape of Mike Wahle I can say now with greater confidence than ever: This was an excellent value signing, and one that will greatly improve Seattle's offensive line.

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