2009 Season Retrospective: Kelly Jennings

Kelly Jennings

2006

2007

2008

Highlights

Rams at Seahawks

Seattle blitzed six on third and 11. It overloaded the right, sending Aaron Curry and Jordan Babineaux. Bulger overthrew Robinson. Kelly Jennings was glued to his hip. Guess Bulger missed that memo. Robinson was wide open, yo.

Bears at Seahawks

Seattle's secondary was its weakest link on defense. Kelly Jennings was the class of the unit, disappearing and disappearing his man like he routinely did in 2007. Perhaps his brief display of ball skills in the preseason bought him a little respect from Jay Cutler. Or maybe the Bears lack that big receiver to box out and jump over and on Jennings. The Colts lack that receiver too.

Seahawks at Colts

Kerney displayed his quickness on the next snap, getting backside pursuit and contributing to a Kelly Jennings run stuff. Then started a series of plays that alarmed me. The next two plays, Kerney got around end only to be washed out or knocked down turning the corner.

Lowlights

Bears at Seahawks

36. Kelly Jennings hesitated to tackle Earl Bennett on a wide receiver screen.

35. That hesitation allowed Chris Williams to pull out and block Jennings.

34. The reception went for 23 yards.

Jaguars at Seahawks

Kelly Jennings went Keary Colbert on a pass thrown right to him, dropping a game changing interception. Darryl Tapp pressured Garrard forcing the bad pass, but despite another awesome defensive showing from Seattle, the Seahawks are again not scoring, but only winning field position.

Seahawks at Cowboys

Kelly Jennings has worked the futile attempt at the ball into his repertoire. It joins the "fall down", the "where's the ball", the "leapt over" and, of course, the "close but no cigar".

Outlook: Oh yes, Kelly Jennings: Your highlights are filled with barely contained derision and your lowlights invoke the hands of Keary Colbert.

What more is there to say?

A long time ago in a land far, far away, Jennings snatched six interceptions playing in the amazingly talented Hurricanes secondary. At different times, Jennings played with Sean Taylor, Brandon Meriweather, Antrel Rolle, Kenny Phillips and Devin Hester. As I sometimes say, beware the worst member of an elite unit. Jennings also had an interception his first season playing in Seattle. I can find no evidence this actually happened, but it was supposedly against Brett Favre so that's like half an interception at best.

Jennings is fast and athletic for sure and he plays great cover, but he struggles with everything else. He isn't the worst form tackler, but it's easy for a blocker to engulf him, he can be run around or through, and, all in all, Jennings is not an effective tackler. He is not reliable in space. His ball skills are atrocious. He does not sense where the ball is or where it's going and that means however tight he covers, quarterbacks feel confident targeting him. Once his receiver is targeted, ball skills undermine his cover and that rather damning weakness is compounded by the ease with which about any and every receiver can box him out, out jump him and bully him away from the ball.

Seattle has a pretty good plan in place. Jennings subs in on nickel downs and frees Josh Wilson to play over the slot. He isn't hopeless or without value, but his value is slight and unless he makes huge strides as an on-ball defender, his cover skills a mirage. I have written this same basic essay every year. First I warned his ball skills could undermine his cover. Then his ball skills undermined his cover. Then I wrote he doesn't have a future in this league unless he develops some ball skills.

Well, maybe this is the season. Jennings is blessed with youth and solid health. Most people have given up on him entirely and that is probably prudent. But I am an old diehard optimist, and apart from experience and development, Jennings should also benefit from better coaching and weaker competition. Until then, Jennings is just road kill awaiting a car.

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