Otto Greule Jr - Getty Images
This morning, I posted some notes on the offense, from Monday night's game. Now, we look at the defense.
-- Brandon Browner is much better than he was at this time last year, particularly from a coverage technique standpoint. He's reading receiver cuts, stops, starts and other moves with much better anticipation and is not biting like he was last year, when he would leave himself no other choice but to grab or interfere. And the level of physical aggression that he's playing with is second to none among corners in the league.
What an anomaly this guy is. Last year he was a 6'4, 225-pound football player, playing at corner. This year, he's just a 6'4, 225-pound corner, period.
-- Kam Chancellor put some incredible closing speed on display when he wrapped up Jennings in open space after a short GB completion. We keep hearing about the size of this secondary, and even the speed, but what people may not be catching onto is the agility and ability to break down in space, and explode from a stop, that is so rare for guys who are 6'3 and 6'4. All three of Chancellor, Browner and Richard Sherman have this ability, and it's this agility that is the key component to this D-backfield being so effective. It allows them to mirror routes with smaller quicker receivers, make open-field tackles in space, and close on the ball rapidly from a dead stop. Really, really phenomenal stuff.
-- K.J. Wright is quietly emerging as a premier linebacker in the division. What he's doing extremely well is combining patience with explosiveness. What I mean by this is, he's not over-running or over-anticipating run plays. He's maintaining his gap assignment and then making good decisions on when to explode through the hole and close on his target. This is when his "plus" burst and explosiveness are put on display. He's a good fundamental tackler who knows how to use his length, and like the DBs mentioned above, he can break down and redirect in space quickly. He's less tentative and a lot more physical than he was last year, and you can see his confidence on the field.
-- Leroy Hill can still play. He's disciplined, he's still fast enough and he's instinctive, exhibiting good read-and-react and anticipation. What a story this guy is. After all the problems he's had off the field, Seattle has stuck with him because of his desire to be here, and he has held up his end of the deal on the field. Good for him.
-- Bruce Irvin's first sack was the most impressive, with the way he used his arm length, lower body leverage and raw power to blow Bryan Bulaga off the block. Once he cleared his path, he displayed the strong closing burst that he exhibited so often at West Virginia. What I saw that I liked in this game, was Irvin exploding off the ball, reaching the edge, and then working from there, rather than coming off the ball and trying to juke his blocker, hesitate or "figure" him out. He's trusting his natural speed and rush ability more, and good things are happening. He has a lot to learn in terms of developing an arsenal of moves once he reaches the edge, but right now he's capable of racking up sacks simply due to his incredible get-off. I'd like to see him fight with his hands more and develop an inside spin move, but those will come with time.
-- Chris Clemons didn't get lucky. He has developed some elite pass-rush moves since coming over from Philly, and is someone that Irvin should emulate in that regard. Clemons was a raw, speed rusher at one point as well, but is so much better now at using his hands and quickness to beat blockers. He doesn't have the natural get-off that Bruce Irvin does. Not even close. This should give you an idea as to what Irvin could become.
-- The majority of the 8 sacks came with Aaron Rodgers initially having time to get a throw off. Problem was, there was nobody open, with how aggressive both Browner and Sherman were in press coverage at the line. They were disrupting routes from the snap, leaving Rodgers no option but to wait. He certainly didn't feel the rush very well either. He had time to move his feet on a couple of occasions but seemed bewildered as to how in the world nobody was open. Probably something he doesn't see very often.
-- In the 2nd half, GB was able to run the ball effectively, as Seattle simply over-anticipated on multiple stretch plays, and GB O-linemen did a good job of picking up blocks at the 2nd level, allowing Cedric Benson pretty easy cutback opportunities. This had everything to do with GB's drastic change in scheme from the first half, which simply confused the Seattle defense for a bit. That said, it was key to GB avoiding sacks in that 2nd half. Had they not been able to run the ball, we might be talking about a shutout right now.
-- Jason Jones and Greg Scruggs were disruptive on passing downs, getting penetration. Red Bryant was getting some really good push from the inside when he rotated in there on passing downs as well. And how about Brandon Mebane? He has become a lot more active from the 1-technique, no longer content just anchoring and waiting. He's being asked to do more, and he's getting up field.
-- There was nothing Earl Thomas could do about that 31-yard completion from Rodgers to Jermichael Finley. Thomas was exactly where he needed to be. But Rodgers put the ball exactly where it needed to be, and did so in pretty incredible fashion, rolling to his left.
-- Aaron Rodgers made some pretty impressive throws into really good coverage in that 2nd half. Sure, the Packers made some good adjustments in terms of running the football in that 2nd half, but the way Rodgers was getting those 1 and 3-step-drop passes out flat footed to the hot-route, with zip, was all Aaron Rodgers. That's where having the best QB in football can get you out of jams that the rest of your team can't get you out of. He's really a special player (newsflash, I know).
Feel free to leave any notes/comments/observations of your own. I'll be getting a rookie report up later on.
Derek has transitioned from doing league-wide NFL Draft analysis at his blog to a more focused and specific Seahawks-centric draft - free agency - pro player personnel site called "ScoutTheSeahawks." It's now up - and it's definitely a site you must bookmark.Derek also maintains a really great free agent tracker that is much more in-depth than most places because of his background doing deep scouting of NFL Draft prospects. It's updated daily.