A Week of Tape Analysis of Russell Okung and Earl Thomas; Thoughts about Upgrading Leo and Over Tackle

Last week, I did a comprehensive look at the Seahawks -- first half. I could have rushed through last week or I could rush through this week, but I'd rather be incomplete than superficial. Breaking down Seattle's first half from last week and then watching the rest of the game later on, it struck me that Seattle's fallen into some patterns. It's not necessary to detail over and over again how the run defense breaks down, because it breaks down in much the same way each time, and it's not likely to overcome that weakness until it can improve some of its personnel.

So the tape analysis turns into beating a dead horse. If you're looking for it, it's not hard to see the Leo end blocked out by a tight end in real time, and the kind of havoc that creates for the run defense. Watching Steelers-Ravens last night, the crew pointed out one play in which a Baltimore tight end was matched against James Harrison. Harrison threw him off and made the tackle on the running back. Harrison is a linebacker, but he really is head and shoulders more stout against the run than Chris Clemons. I would like to see Clemons pushed into a backup role like the one currently manned by Raheem Brock. The guy's been a helluva find and his quickness around the edge is something the Seahawks haven't had since Patrick Kerney's 2007, but that pretty much defines his game and that pass rush-only skill set is why he has spent most of his career as a situational player.

If Seattle retains Brandon Mebane, and I certainly hope they do, adding another defensive tackle, someone that can demand a double team, someone that can create push, would also help. Colin Cole is the opposite of Clemons: all run stuffing ability and no pass rush. Both have been valuable for a team with modest aspirations, but for a good to great team, both would be more valuable as situational players.

Looking ahead, Seattle could sign someone like Johnny Jolly to take over for Cole. Mathias Kiwanuka makes some kind of sense at Leo, but stacking injury prone players seems unwise and this is a rich draft class for defensive ends. Re-signing Clemons and adding a couple young talents to challenge might be the best policy. But, Jolly, assuming his legal troubles are cleared up, is a slam dunk. The Packers played him at end to accommodate their switch to a 3-4, but he has the ideal Albert Haynesworth-like frame of a 4-3 tackle: not too tall, but wide as three men. Jolly is a quality athlete and could fill in for Bryant at strongside end.

So, anyway, lengthy aside completed, this week I will concentrate my tape analysis on two cornerstone rookies: Russell Okung and Earl Thomas. Line play is the easiest thing to evaluate from broadcast tape and free safety play is the absolute hardest, but I will do my best.

It didn't settle in right away, but after some reflection yesterday's win feels good. It might be years until Seattle finds their quarterback of the future and can cash in and become a contender, but the short term goal in Seattle may be better defined as a return to respectability. Seattle isn't there yet. Respectable teams tear apart the lowly Seahawks. But Seattle has become pretty good at dominating their peers in the underclass. That is a meaningful step towards escaping it.

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