The first quarter epitomized whatever's the antonym of "smashmouth football". Perhaps "don't-blitz-our-franchise-quarterback-recovering-from-an-ACL-tear-and-we-won't-further-shatter-your-third-string-quarterback's-rock-candy-like-confidence football". Seattle went four wide on five plays and San Diego never once responded with an overload blitz, a corner blitz or a safety blitz. Frye was rarely pressured, didn't panic, looked serviceable and probably secured an undeserving spot on the roster. A diabolical trick by Norv Turner? You wily bastard.
If you saw the game on the ESPN, you no doubt saw Frye's touchdown pass to Nate Burleson a half dozen times. It was a nice touch pass. Eric Weddle did the scrappy overachiever thing - winding up, sinking his shoulder pads before ineffectually bouncing off Burleson - gifting Seattle an additional ~20 yards. But it was Courtney Taylor's heads-up downfield block I was most impressed with. The timing was ruthless and had Taylor broken stride or not immediately sought and engaged Quentin Jammer, the block impossible. And it was the Godawful play action mocked by Frye and Maurice Morris I was most disgusted by. Morris never ran anywhere near Frye, instead immediately popping into a block on the right side, leaving Frye faking the ball to his imaginary buddy. The two were at it again on the last play of the half, Morris never near Frye yet Frye still play faking to air.
- Speaking of Taylor, it was cool to see him overpower Jammer on a quick slant: Overpowering the press, overpowering Jammer for inside position and overpowering Jammer after the catch, dragging Jammer for eight and the first. I think Taylor has the kind of functional power we haven't seen in a Seahawks receiver since...?
- Darren Sproles made the most of some gaping holes and like Reggie Bush worked quick cuts to Seattle's embarrassment, but, again, for a Seahawks squad in love with the run blitz, Seattle's linebacker corps looked allergic to the offensive line, consistently engaging lead blockers in the second level and too often attempting to take on a shifty running back in space. In the ultimate copycat league, two days after the defending World Champions lost their best player for the season, methinks someone cried "poison!" before kickoff and both teams scattered.
- The quarter featured a couple nice pull blocks by Rob Sims. Pull blocks always seem to play against a 3-4, perhaps because offensive linemen are often free off the line. Nevertheless, pull blocking is the next step for Sims and his ability to get into space and square his assignment were encouraging.
On San Diego's fourth play of their first drive, Leroy Hill badly blew coverage against Chris Chambers. Chambers, aligned in the slot, dropped the pass letting Hill off the hook. Hill, playing on the right offensive side, mindlessly moved out and towards the sideline on Chambers quick slant in, giving Chambers a free release and open space between him and Deon Grant. Grant, entering the frame only after Chambers had flubbed the pass, looked in Hill's direction and shook his head.
This gaffe is notable only because sometime between 2006, when many saw Leroy Hill as a clumsy, easily confused pass defender, and the 2008 offseason, with many now seeing Hill as an intimidating, play making pass defender, Hill has become an often competent, sometimes flashy and sometimes flaky pass defender. In the red zone, you want to be able to come out in your base defense, even when a team goes three wide, but a linebacker allowing an uncontested slant rout from the slot is exactly the type of mistake that makes coordinators default into nickel. Without the drop, the pass had an excellent chance of ending in the end zone.
- On the first play of Seattle's final drive, Maurice Morris made many small cuts and broke a tackle by Weddle on a rush that exemplifies new look Morris. Shiftiness in the open field? A bulked up ability to break tackles? I'm excited to see this new running back in the regular season.
On the 13th and 14th plays of Seattle's penultimate drive of the quarter, Frye was up to his normal hijinks, pairing bad passes and looking every bit the backup.
The first came on a sailed pass on an I-don't-know-what pattern by Taylor. Taylor wasn't remotely close, and though the ball managed to sail harmlessly incomplete, assuming Frye wasn't intending to toss the ball nowhere (he wasn't pressured), the dead duck dove closer to Jammer than Taylor and were it more accurate had all the makings of an interception.
The second came on a pass Frye jammed into Logan Payne's inside shoulder though Payne was running out. The telegraphed pass, paired with Payne's relative slowness, became and easy pass defense for Clinton Hart. Nothing worth burying a guy for, but it was a display of the kind of easy badness professional players can't afford.
Let's end with something positive.
It's 3rd and 1 on the San Diego 34. Mike Holmgren shows his modernity, employing the fan conceived, WR, 2 TE, Owen Schmitt, Leonard Weaver I-formation. San Diego responds with a Base 3-4. The play is a run behind right guard, with Mike Wahle pulling right and lead blocking for Weaver. The sink for Seattle is Schmitt successfully filling for Wahle, eliminating backside pursuit.
Schmitt, in that oh so lovable fashion, batters hard charging inside linebacker Derek Smith, sealing the hole as well as any lineman could hope and leaving Smith slowed and shaking his head.