SEATTLE WA - JANUARY 08: Defensive tackle Brandon Mebane #92 of the Seattle Seahawks reacts in the second quarter against the New Orleans Saints during the 2011 NFC wild-card playoff game at Qwest Field on January 8 2011 in Seattle Washington. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
When I thought hard about topics to dig into Seahawks history this one has been around since I started. It's a common topic, "Who would win if or who was better." However, my spin on this topic is this, I won't be making an effort to declare a winner. I will simply write blurbs on players matching them up with each other comparing them and contrasting them. The comments will be open to those that wish to declare their own winners and also submit Seahawks players for comparison in later installments. I'd personally like this to be a monthly topic if it is well received. There is only one rule I have and that is, players for the Versus topic must share the same position. Now, with the setup out of the way, let's get started.
A quick note. You will see the terms passive and aggressive used here. In this case I am using them to signify the players' role in their teams defenses. When I use the term passive, I mean that the player does not do many different things he's not moved or played in different situations for key affect. Aggressive means that the player is a key element in scheme that changes week to week or is asked to do several different things to affect the outcome of a game. It does not reflect their play as players.
Rocky Bernard vs Joe Nash:
Defense 4-3 Style: Aggressive. When Ray Rhodes came to Seattle, there was only one holdover from his initial D-line after 2002. Rocky wasn't even that stunning a physical specimen at 6'3" 302 pounds. He wasn't terribly strong but had a whistle to whistle playing style that made him a success by volume alone.
Use: Rocky was flexible and could play many positions, including both defensive tackle spots and strong side defensive end. Rocky was rarely left to stand and strike over and over at the same spot, moving him and making him the centerpiece of many Stunts, twists and loops he made the work for guys like Marcus Tubbs and Bryce Fischer easier.
Career highlights: The 2005 season was key in his career. The NFC Championship game with 2 sacks which is the key highlight for which he could be most remembered. He also helped force 2 interceptions of Jake Delhomme's passes by collapsing the pocket.
Weaknesses: Not too strong and if he got off the ball poorly, he often failed to recover. Tackles were never too much of a bright spot either with only two Seasons with 40+ tackles. Against the run bigger guards could move him at will.
Strengths: Speed was the easiest thing to spot here. A solid first step, but also fast shoulders to square or shift and attack gaps. He was rarely discouraged by early failure. Often a guard would have him truly contained like a probowler and Rocky would suddenly dispatch the guy with a shove and loop around for late pressure, which was his trademark in a hawk uniform. Pass Rush was where he shined.
Defenses: 3-4, Passive, 4-3, Passive. Really Joe Nash was the first playmaker the Seahawks had at DT. He's made even cooler when you realize he was grabbed as an undrafted free agent by the Seahawks in 1982. I'd personally say about his game that he played dirty. He probably had to at 6'3" 287 he wasn't very broad and played the most demanding position on the hawks defenses through the 80's.
Use: Starring at nose tackle for most of his stunning 15 seasons in a Seahwk Jersey his job was simply to hold ground up the middle and attack the guard/center gap. He wasn't asked to do much more than that. Despite this he was a star next to Jacob Green.
Career highlights: The 1984 season is historic and without Joe Nash and his amazing 82 tackles, 7 sacks and 3 fumble recoveries the 1984 defense would have had a huge hole that couldn't be filled by most men. In a key game against the Raiders he had 6 tackles and forced fumble and a sack.
Weaknesses: Small even by NFL standards back in his day. He often struggled to hold a double team if it got hold of him he could be moved out of his space easily in those situations, though he could shed a block and make a tackle well, he often made them 3 or 4 yards up the field.
Strengths: Joe Nash had the nasty attitude that would have made Jim L. Mora trying to clone him. He won battles with sheer force of will at times it seemed. He had nothing too eye popping about his game, but watching him fight battles was fun because if he started to lose he'd do things like drop a shoulder or attempt a dive into the o-line almost like some kind of human torpedo. He also was one reason we have the current injury timeout system we do when during a game with the Bengals, in an attempt to stop their 'no huddle' offense, Joe developed a trick knee that halted the opposing team 11 times in the game. Though never officially credited as the reason for the injury rule changes, the game is actually pretty famous to older hawk fans. Pete Gross and Steve Riable have the funniest calls of that game with Gems like "Oh there goes Joe's knee again" "This really could be it this time."
Comparison: Joe Nash was a stationary anchor while Rocky was a swiss army knife able to do many different tasks. Joe won battles by force of will, Rocky tended to outlast his opponents. Joe was a gritty tackler who recorded more than 80 tackles in 3 different seasons, with a high of 92 in 1989. Rocky was a speedy pass rusher who really was the only consistent pressure man the Seahawks had during his time there. (Patrick Kearney was the high sack man sure, but consistent pressure, like Jacob Green? Nah.)
So there it is, my new series test piece. Please let me know what you think. additions subtractions? Content? All thoughts are welcome. If this is well received, again, I'd like to make it a monthly posting. I'd also like to do two sets of players per article.
Next week, we highlight the 1980 Season.