Patrick Kerney's Two Seconds to Factor

Before I lay out the bones of Patrick Kerney's second quarter, let us talk about Peyton Manning. Manning does two things exceptionally well.

He is able to make almost any pass with perfect accuracy. It's astounding. In the modern NFL, a receiver always has some separation. If his quarterback can consistently hit him in the hands, Pierre Garcon can burn Asante Samuel. That's the trick to Austin Collie blowing past Travis Fisher for a 21 yard touchdown. Fisher wasn't close, but Collie never broke his route. That play was practice-smooth. Collie ran his route and received a perfectly placed pass to his hands just as he finished it.

Manning is also able to consistently read a defense, find a target and pass in two to four seconds. If you watch Manning, you will nearly never see him stall like Ben Roethlisberger, Seneca Wallace and, truly, almost every other quarterback, bad, good and great, in football.

This is where Kerney comes in. He was in for 15 plays, rested for three when Nick Reed subbed in, and in those fifteen plays, whether he snapped off the line, beat his man, made a good move or not, he could not factor into the play. Seattle's defensive line had no time to create pass rush. That was in part the product of a complete secondary collapse. Seattle could have lined up Dwight Freeney - Brandon Mebane - Tommie Harris - Jared Allen and not sacked Manning. Seattle could not cover and that meant its line did not have enough time to create pressure.

Let's take this to the logical extreme. If Seattle had the above line, but no other players on defense, that line would never record a sack. Conversely, if Seattle bred four mutant Deion "Night Train" Lotts and populated their secondary with them, a line of four Colin Coles would eventually sack the quarterback.

That is the push and pull of pressure and coverage. Neither one can be understood without the other and either can make the other look better or worse than it is. Seattle's secondary is not terrible, but it's weak. Weak doesn't work against Peyton. Kelly Jennings has rebounded well and Ken Lucas has impressed me. Travis Fisher is a little in over his head. Maybe it's a hangover from an injury wracked start to his season, but Indianapolis was not his chance to get healthy. Jordan Babineaux is clearly still struggling. Deon Grant - I'm not exactly sure how to categorize Deon Grant.

Kerney only had one very good jump off the line. That was to begin the Colts touchdown scoring two minute drill. He even turned the corner and got close to pressuring Manning, but slipped. For much of the drive, Kerney looked, well, tired. He looked very tired. That was most pronounced on the fourth and fifth plays, after the Colts twice snapped "no huddle". On the fifth play, he ran a very slow stunt across the line. Manning was flushed from the pocket, but Kerney did not flush him and did not pressure him after he was flushed.

Kerney did not factor. That is the best way to put it. In eight of the fifteen plays, I have scribbled "DNF". His performance at the start of the second drive and his visible fatigue on the fourth and fifth plays are instructive. Kerney played worse when he was tired, but was not regularly substituted out. Later Kerney was injured.

Before the season, Seattle spoke of using Kerney in a more limited capacity to extend his life as a pass rusher. Looking at Brian McIntyre's snap counts, that doesn't look to be the case. Kerney played in 66.7% of Seattle's defensive snaps against the Rams, a game Seattle led by 21 midway through the third quarter. He played in 80% and 82.5% of Seattle's snaps against the 49ers and Bears, respectively. He played in 65.1% of the teams' snaps last Sunday and left the game because of injury.

Seattle has more defensive ends with talent than almost any team in the NFL. It needs to start using them, before it loses them as it lost Kerney. Until its secondary can cover more than two seconds, it won't matter.

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