Green Bay drafted Clay Matthews to assist their conversion to a 3-4. It worked. In a statistical coincidence someone has surely misinterpreted, Matthews had 10 sacks in 2009 and the Packers 37 after only 27 in 2008. Interesting coincidence aside, Matthews is the team's best edge rusher, best pass rusher and the only Packer able to test Mansfield Wrotto in any meaningful way.
Matthews appeared at some point but did not start and was absent from most of Saturday's contest. Wrotto survived. He stepped up big, playing the entire game and proving steady. Wrotto survived a very low level of competition, and though I do not want to take anything away from his fortitude, crediting Wrotto with anything but surviving against a very low level of competition is a misrepresentation of his performance.
He mostly squared off against Brandon Chillar. Chillar is sort of a bigger, better 3-4 Will Herring. He's a do-all linebacker that won some snaps from A.J. Hawk in nickel packages. Chillar had two sacks last season and 7.5 for his career. Against Seattle, he had four tackles, all of which prevented a successful play, one quarterback hit that was wiped by a hands to the face penalty and one hands to the face penalty, forced by overmatching Wrotto.
Wrotto mostly held the edge and mostly held his block, but if you can extrapolate what we saw and envision it against better competition, he will struggle. He will struggle to block out the edge rush. He just doesn't get sufficient depth and so chases the pass rusher instead of mirroring him. Wrotto loses ground against the bull rush. It's not that he lacks strength. He just doesn't solidify the block and so he's always compensating and losing ground. If you will allow a turn of phrase, Wrotto is a subsistence blocker.
Jared Allen is a Black Blizzard with arms of locust and legs of blight.
Short of custom, I can not think of a good reason for Seattle to start Matt Hasselbeck. Pride might take over. Seattle doesn't want to act "scared." It needs to prove that it can start ones against ones and survive. Whatever. Seattle has little depth at left tackle. It has a, seemingly, fragile quarterback. It faces perhaps the best defensive end in all of football, on the road, in a meaningless game. Pride shouldn't supersede common sense.
We are all happy that Wrotto substituted for Russell Okung and held his own. Lot of good feelings about that. Wrotto may even hold up against lower-level edge rusher in the regular season. I wouldn't worry too terribly much about Wrotto starting against San Francisco, the Dumervil-less Broncos, Shawne Merriman or whatever can of snakes the Rams spring on Seattle. Wrotto can survive that stretch if he has to.
Seattle could survive that stretch starting Wrotto if it has to. Hopefully Carroll and Bates and Hasselbeck acknowledge that but consider tomorrow's matchup and choose not to wager health to win pride. Tomorrow is an exhibition. Though Wrotto may survive Allen and the Vikings, do we really want to see the aftermath if he doesn't?