What's up Sunday readers? Apologies for the light content the last two days, my little family suffered a minor medical emergency that's now over. My wife is gluten intolerant. I read somewhere that gluten intolerance is the most underdiagnosed condition in America. If you have GERD, IBS or a set of vague gastronomic problems that defy other explanation, however severe, you might want to test yourself for the intolerance. It's a bitch not being able to eat wheat, but it beats being sick.
It's a lazy Sunday and I'm sipping some Oaked Arrogant Bastard. Kudos Belmont Station. Oklahoma UNC is on. I thought I'd free the logjam and write a musings piece.
If I could, selfishly and without consideration for the performance of the team, see three players drafted by Seattle, it would be: Knowshon Moreno, Everette Brown and Mike Thomas. These guys are straight fun to watch. I think Thomas will be fabulously productive on a team willing to use him in a Welker role. Kansas City could take him in the third. I think Thomas is an excellent example of a player devalued for the wrong reasons. If a player hasn't performed against top competition, you devalue his stock. If a player lacks the tools to translate to the NFL, you devalue his stock. If a player lacks height, and so will never be a great traditional possession receiver or jump ball receiver, but has the production and measurables to be exceptional situationally and played to his strengths, then you use him situationally and play him to his strengths. Not drafting a player because his function is somewhat specific, or because he has limitations, is a tacit admission of the limitations of a coaching staff.
Another selfish admission: I want to see a beautifully thrown deep ball. I want a quarterback that pops, that isn't just efficient. Maybe I'm committing the classic crime of the fan. Thinking what I've got isn't good enough and wanting everything its not. But Matt Hasselbeck is among the least thrilling good quarterbacks in the NFL. When I see Hasselbeck scramble, attempt to create on the run, I cringe. When I see Hasselbeck target a receiver deep, I desperately hope the coverage has broken down. The alternative is a show-me play that only shows Hasselbeck's limitations, or an interception.
I'm ambivalent about Lawrence Jackson. Have I said that? It's become nagging. I really like Jackson's tools and character. I think, as a pure defensive end prospect, he would top this year's draft class. He has no questions about size or ability to translate. He has the size, speed, tools and production of an early first round pick in a shallower class. All things considered, as disappointed as I was with Jackson in 2008, I think it's safe to give him a do over. He's a breakout candidate.
Damn, I do not want to see UNC pull away so early.
I think Seattle's 2008 draft will shadow the Portland Blazers' 2006. Watch for a ton of activity, a roster shakeup and a more prominent Tim Ruskell now that the Big Show is gone. Many of the conventions ascribed Tim Ruskell do not jive with how I see a Paul Allen team.
Just what kind of zone-blocking scheme is Seattle implementing? I'm looking for hints, because without motion on the offensive line, the team currently has a collection of line talent that's not traditional zone blocking friendly. Assuming a Locklear-Wahle-Spencer-Sims-Willis front five, you have two, two and half players that fit a zone blocking scheme: Locklear, Spencer and ½ Wahle. I hope Seattle keeps Wahle as depth and drafts a starter caliber offensive guard. Viva Tyronne Green.
I think I'll partake of the tripel next. The Oaked Arrogant is, as always, a steady, complex bit of a liquid yummy. First impression: That's a friggin' tasty tripel. I'll have to remember Allagash for further consumption.
An interesting study, and one perhaps too messy to do right, is to compare the relative impact of a running back and an offensive line on a rushing attack. I'm, as are maybe most modern NFL analysts, of the thinking that an offensive line is much more important. I guess the simple reason why is that all a rushing attempt must convert to be valuable is four to five yards on first, and then a yet smaller amount on second and third assuming a successful first. Four to five yards isn't much more than a hole and lunge. No Barry Sanders-esque heroics necessary. The key is the hole, because it doesn't take athletic excellence to push a pile. Seattle desperately needs a left guard that can provide that. System be damned, I think the team that drafts Duke Robinson instantly has a player as valuable to a rushing attack as any running back. Robinson has once in a decade functional power. I think when we over-talk fit, and concentrate too much on position drills, we miss pure ability. Watch Max Unger. He doesn't get good push. Sure, he's athletic for an interior lineman. He has versatility. Get the pads off him and let him show his skills without contest, and he looks special, but watch tape and see: Unger creates seams; Robinson bulldozes holes.
I've expressed my dread regarding the West Coast Defense...I watched SportCenter for the first time in years last night. The hospital room had cable. We don't. When I was young I watched SportsCenter religiously. And no bastardization of that term or anything, I would watch it and watch it again, weekday afternoons, evenings, five times a day on weekends; washing myself in droll Kenny Mayne and the stiff sarcasm of Dan Patrick; it was my connection to sports and family, a bridge to my father, and, when in New Hampshire, my only connection to Seattle sports. I don't quite get hate for ESPN. I do not watch it though. I don't watch sports television and don't read sports television and am generally out of touch with the sports mainstream. When I read Cutler was on the block I just rolled my eyes, but now it seems the burning of a fuse of indeterminate length. So that, while the mongers of boring details of rumor gone bad fatten their Q rating and site hits, it burns, it's also inevitable that Cutler is on the out. I wonder if my initial reaction to the West Coast Defense is kind. I thought: bullshit. But, who knows, Seattle is clearly doing something novel. It's collected talent from many disparate disciplines. (Perhaps attempting a wisdom of crowds approach to defense.) It has assembled a jigsaw puzzle of talent in its coaching and in its personnel. I think this has legs, and I think that's both worrisome and kind of exciting.
Pop open this Drake's Crude Oatmeal Stout. First impression: Another hit! My wife is assembling a collection of Seahawks mugs, and I'm drinking out of a mini-mug with the old school chagrinned hawk logo.
If Laurinaitis and Chung were both on the board at 37, who would I take? Probably Laurinaitis. Despite my love for Chung, and despite my belief he is a great new-school strong safety, I think Hamlin will be a good strong safety and I don't see a comparable match for Laurinaitis. Cover skills, awareness, the kind of old-fashioned passion for the craft that makes a scrapper like me swoon, Lauraitis is too good to be true in the early second. Yes, he should be there.
Speaking of 40s, which I didn't but I did, I wonder what Ed Reed's 40 is? Like, good day, 4.6? Polamalu, 4.55? The forty tells you a bit about a player's overall athleticism and for that is valuable, but when a player is already clearly athletic, has tools in spades like Everette Brown, the 40 is sorta moronic. It measures an event that will never happen on the football field. I think 40 times and football success correlate, but not because the speed or acceleration it takes to run an elite 40. Instead, I think it's a mix of preparedness and overall athleticism. I think the strict footspeed, acceleration, top speed element of it is the least important characteristic, and why players that lack pop on film, lack production on the field and lack the skills that make and NFL player, but pop on the track, are near sure-busts.
What ya got? That's it for me. I hope Oklahoma tightens this up in the second. I'm watching Yojimbo tonight. Excited. Back on the horse tomorrow, including a wrap up on our first look at Stafford and an overall grade.