Between bursts of self-assault, Owen Schmitt occasionally plays fullback. Not that I don't find a man hitting himself in the head entertaining, but I thought we could take a break from analyzing the patterns of his blood spatters to watch him play football. Watching athletes play sports is an increasingly novel concept. I am awaiting the day ESPN does to its sports coverage what MTV has done with music videos.
Schmitt was named starter before the season, but lost that spot after week four of the preseason. I don't know that Justin Griffith actually outplayed Schmitt, but Seattle's then struggling running game picked up with Griffith playing fullback.
Schmitt has great potential as a fullback. He is a powerful blocker that savors contact. He is also rather new to the position after playing HB in Rich Rodriguez's spread-option offense. Griffith on the other hand, is to Greg Knapp's offense as Steve Buschemi was to 90s era Coen Brothers movies.
Schmitt played nine snaps in the first quarter. I picked the first quarter to watch him because the game was undecided and the Jaguars couldn't load up against the run. He worked nearly as much as a blocker and receiver.
His play was solid. He had one very good lead block, on the second play of Seattle's second drive, in which he moved into the hole, moved out Jaguars inside linebacker Russell Allen and doing so screened another Jaguar out of the play. Jones was slowed by end Derrick Harvey, but Allen was awarded the tackle. The attribution of a tackle seems almost arbitrary.
Schmitt didn't have any highlight worthy blocks, but his ability to square and power into his defender is impressive. He made an audible "pop" on his first block of the game, again against Allen.
Schmitt and Julius Jones have developed some chemistry, or so it looked. Schmitt ran in front and Jones followed and the two seemed to see the same hole on all but one run play. Schmitt turned a right-angle left just behind the offensive line and continued off-tackle, but Jones cut in and was tackled by the left defensive end. Ray Willis had attempted a cut block, but the Harvey anticipated it and stayed in play.
For one snap, Schmitt was again an HB. John Carlson was at left HB and Schmitt at right HB and the two ran symmetrical patterns. Both were to chip the outside linebacker and then release into a quick out into the flat. Schmitt chipped his man, but Carlson whiffed and Clint Ingram damn near killed Hasselbeck before he could shotput it away.
Schmitt's route running looks crisp, if elementary and he looks surprisingly swift as a receiver. He was the primary target on a godawful FB screen pass, but blanketed and skipped in favor of a wide open Nate Burleson. Schmitt did his part attracting coverage and keeping pressure off Hasselbeck.
I am not so sure if Schmitt is a work in progress or the best fullback on Seattle's roster. Griffith can't stay healthy, and he has yet to revive that magical ability to improve Seattle's run game that got him the job. If Schmitt had been Knapp's Mifune and not Griffith, and Schmitt the one that took the field against the Raider scrubs, would he be starting ahead of Griffith? I think so.
Seattle has shown a willingness to let its talent learn on the job. I have yet to see what Griffin can do that prevents Schmitt from starting. He might not know the offense as well, but that'll come, and his talent and potential as a lead blocker trump Griffith's. He wants it so bad. C'mon Knapp, lets Schmitt spill someone else's blood.