Darryl Tapp: The Consummate Defensive End

Field Gulls is a dysfunctional blog. We keep weird hours and make weird, inappropriate jokes and sometimes we're down a couple extra hours sleeping off our victory hangover. I can't really do routine or structure.

This week I am doing player vignettes. They won't be linear. Instead, they will be short pieces about an individual players' quarter, plus some opinion and perspective on their future. I will create as many as I have time for.

My first pick is wholly selfish: Darryl Tapp. I may have been alone in thinking Tapp was a major part of what separated Seattle's 2007 defense from their 2008 defense. I even grew frustrated with Lawrence Jackson, who took snaps from Tapp without earning them. Jackson earns his snaps now. Tapp has earned a chance to be Seattle's right defensive end for the next six years.

Darryl Tapp was sure he had forced a false start. He stood up and pointed emphatically, but no flag was coming. He barely knelt into his three-point before David Garrard snapped. But Tapp was on the ball as ever, and after making a quick move outside, he cut in and pressured Garrard. His inside move separates Tapp.

As does his linebacker like run tackling. On the next play, Tapp turned such a tight angle and flashed such pursuit speed, I couldn't be sure he wasn't Aaron Curry. He wrapped around end and caught Maurice Jones-Drew from behind after a gain of two.

He finished the drive by dropping into cover. No one was within a mile of his zone, but his backpedal and presence in the middle is distinctly not-lineman like.

He dropped into coverage again on the second play of the Jaguars second drive. It was a fun looking blitz that failed miserably. Tapp and opposing end Jackson dropped into curl zones, and Seattle's three linebackers attempted a complex, layered blitz. It snagged when Will Herring couldn't power through the pile and pressure Garrard. In fact, he fell. It's one those moments you miss Leroy Hill. Jackson tackled Holt from behind 25-yards down the field. I'll talk Jackson at some point, but he is an excellent athlete and his progress as a pass rusher is exciting. Very exciting.

Tapp was everywhere on the nine-play drive Seattle silenced with assignment-correct football at the two. He assisted on a run tackle for no gain and showed improved ability to hold the long edge on another down. He used a rip to force an incomplete and a spin to force a check down in the red zone. He went inside and nearly knocked left guard Vince Manuwai into Garrard.

Darry Tapp factored into almost every play. He hurried passes and contained. He shot behind the line and chased down Jones-Drew. Tapp isn't Cory Redding and doesn't demand double teams. Though he's bulked up, he's reasonably small. If talent came to order, Tapp might be a little lacking in so and so, but that's not the game.

If Tapp was the Tapp Seattle drafted, he could still start. That's the comparative importance of pass defense to run defense. He isn't that player though. Tapp is more disciplined. He doesn't start every play sprinting towards the edge. He can hold ground and control. He can cut in and avoid the chip. He can tackle in the open field better than many linebackers. Through fourteen plays in the first quarter, Tapp showed he is a complete end and a vital part of Seattle's future.

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