So in my last fanpost here, I wrote about Walter Jones and his run blocking. I also seemed to come across as minimizing Steve Hutchinson's play while doing that. The truth is, I didn't mean to do that, I had simply pointed out in that article that Steve being out of the game for a half forced me to see what Walter was as a run blocker which was worlds above what most men, particularly tackles are.
However, having realized the bias that exists in terms of hutch love for the running game only, and the passing game for walter, I decided to watch games with them both seeing how these two men worked together. I know I'm getting a bit wordy and you want the meat, so here it is. These are the Top 5 Duos in Seahawk history. These are the men that can be good or great by themselves, but you add in this other man and you get even better. So let's see if you agree with me.
#5 Jacob Green and Joe Nash: Jacob Green's breakout sack year was his fourth season in the league, it also marks the Second year he would share the line with Joe Nash. Jacob had speed and length and tenacity early in his career he was double and some times triple blocked. With the arrival of Joe Nash however, and a Chuck Knox pass rush scheme, centers and guards would quake in their boots. Joe Nash was mean and didn't ever mind taking a chop at someone's knees if he lost leverage. Joe Nash was a solid Nose Tackle in the Knox defenses that put up amazing sack numbers and Jacob Green was the man that most found his talents aided by Nash's arrival. These Two really shared the same heart on the field and watching them work in any games from the 80's was just a load of fun for a football nerd like me.
#4 Steve Largent and Daryl Turner: When you talk about best duos this one doesn't seem to get any press at all in Seahawks lore. However, these men were perfect opposites of each other. Turner was a speed man who burnt coverages and forced teams out of pinching Steve Largent with double and triple coverage. In a 1984 win against the broncos it was Turner who would help set up a 12 catch 191 yard performance by the great Seahawk. In A wide open passing game that turned heads in 1984 and piled up 32 TDs for Dave Kreig, these two men were perfect for this flashy air assault.
#3 Shaun Alexander and Mack Strong: Lets be honest here and now. One of these names would have faded into obscurity without the other. Mack Strong wasn't flashy or big like Alstott. He was a guy who blocked well and broke down many star tacklers. Shaun Alexander had all the tools to be great, but he took what Strong gave him and became the best back Seattle has ever had. Mack Strong and Shaun Alexander were probably the duo that understood each other the best. Shaun was a redzone master, always playing a little bit faster when the defense was heels on the endzone. Shaun so many times worked against the grain or helped a block out by changing his angle but without Mack, half of these touchdowns don't even occur.
Teams watched Shaun Work and as they became worn down, they would try to cheat into gaps or get the jump off Shaun's first move. Mack Strong would become a decoy often in redzone calls and defenses would rush to Mack only to realize Shaun had perfectly cut at the last moment . Mack would hit the pile leaving the defense too far wide to make up ground and stop Shaun from scoring. One of my favorite blocks though from Mack would come in the monday night massacre of the Eagles. It is on Shaun's second TD of the game and it's a power sweep at the goal line. Brian Dawkins has it sniffed out and Shaun realizes mack needs a couple of steps to get to dawkins so he taps his feet a moment. Mack is able to hook Dawkins just enough and as Shaun pulls wide of the block and scores on the left corner Mack puts Dawkins right down on the field leaving dawkins' to hopelessly call for a flag.
#2 Matt Hasselbeck and Bobby Engram: The stats aren't flashy enough here probably for most, but Matt Hasselbeck certainly would tell you that Bobby Engram was the man who helped him turn the corner in the offense. Bobby became the TE for all intents and purposes for the failure of Jerramy Stevens. Holmgren switched his base formations from 2 WR 1TE 2 RB 70% of the time to 3 WR 2 RBs nearly 68% of the time in 2003. Engram became the security blanket for Hasselbeck and they both became key center pieces to top ten offenses in 3 seperate seasons. This is a rare case of both guys really having a irrelevant career before finding each other. Their peak together was a 2007 season with a more pass oriented team. And it was no surprise that Engram would set Seahawk receiving records and Hasselbeck would set career highs as well.
#1 Walter Jones and Steve Hutchinson: What can you say but wow. When you see these two side by side on the field these two aren't just imposing, they changed your approach if you were a defensive coach. Together with the smarts of Robbie Tobeck and the tricky finesse of Chris Gray this team was unbeatable on offense. However it all began with those two. It seems that the wisdom in Seahawks land is that Walter Jones was a pass blocker and Hutch was a run blocker, This robs each man of key aspects of what made them the best match for each other.
Walter Jones didn't giive up a sack for three years and only 2 in 4 complete seasons. Some of that credit can be thrown at the the fact that Walter Jones could afford to use a wider range and peal off the line more often knowing that Hutch could handle the middle pressure well, particularly 1 on 1 with the nose Tackle. This made blitzes hard to launch and Hutch and Tobeck and Gray were all great and seeing blitzes early if they did come. While Hutch helped Walter set the bar for Tackles Walter helped Hutch become one of the most dominant downfield gaurds in football. When a DE is consistently moved by a tackle 3 yards in whatever direction the tackle wishes, assignments on the D-line have to change drastically to try and control the gap that gets left. This means that a DT might not be able to be as aggressive as he'd like to be, trying to control two and perhaps even two and a half gaps on any play. This left Hutch with fewer grinding battles to fight during the game and allowed him to get out in space where he did his best work.
Without each other we've seen Walter and Hutch both had to work harder for success and in Hutch's case teams now just sit their Nose tackle right on top of him to take away his best skills. Walter's Run blocking while always good was now not as impactful without someone to take advantage of it. I never realized until thinking about this piece just how much these two men's careers were enhanced by the other.
So what do you think?