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Preseason Preview Part 2: That Hideous Strength

USA TODAY Sports

Searching for news on Jesse Williams, aka "Tha Monstar," I found this news about Jesse Williams, aka some guy from Gray's Anatomy? That comment section's no place for Pentheus or Orpheus. Which is my way of saying that that specific comment section, the one under the post (the post which is really just an excuse to post a picture of some catamite looking fellow), is analogous to a death cult, fueled by wine, frenzied to the point of tearing a man apart bodily and eating his flesh. But search for Jesse Williams I did, because among Seahawks draft picks, Williams was the closest to a "need" pick.

See, I like Williams but he's missing practice with a knee injury, a knee injury almost certainly related to the knee injury that allowed Seattle to select him in the fifth round. I like Williams as a sort of Colin Cole but better: a barrel chested two-gap three-tech comfortable playing five-tech assignments. Does that sentence atone for the above link? I like Williams but what matters more is that someone steps in for Alan Branch, because though Branch was wholly unremarkable, inert at a position that emphasizes active, seemingly both one of the least missed and most easily able to be upgraded talents on the reigning top scoring defense, Branch was not a scrub, could be dearly missed, could be hard to replace.

Pablo S. Torre of Sports Illustrated estimated the total number of American men between the ages of 20 and 40 that are seven feet or taller at fewer than 70. So valuable is height to playing center in the NBA, that from this ultra-rarefied group teams must find men of some ability. This accounts for the patience given sometimes incompetent seeming young big men like Meyers Leonard, and also the game-breaking nature of athletic big men like Shaquille O'neal and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. It's somewhat qualitative, and there's two factors instead of one, but one assumes people that are 6'6" and 330 pounds but relatively fit, are extremely rare. In fact, let's complicate that a bit further. Players that are 6'6", 330 pounds, and have the kind of explosive strength in their legs and core to jump 27 inches and run almost five flat in the forty, are exceptionally rare. That's one reason Branch was a four-star recruit. One of the reasons Branch was projected to be a top-ten pick early in the draft process, and survived as a projected first-round pick even after teams, you know, met the guy.

Or witnessed some of this shimmy shake:

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You go, big man. You show the world the riches a young man can procure from physical talent alone. We forgive you. Because when you want to, you can Gilbert Jesse Brown the hell out of a double team.

Firstly

It's so inelegant, so ugly, hard-scrabble, scrummy--it's hard not to discount. The above is bad football insomuch that it's bad viewing. The kind of big dudes goin at it that looks fuzzy and indistinct even in 1080p. But it's vital. Vital to how Seattle has up to now run its defense. The designation three-tech carries with it an expectation of activity, disruption and play-making. But under Pete Carroll the position's instead been some kind of hybrid nose tackle and five-tech--the two positions Williams started for Alabama. The three must be able to withstand a double team and keep Seattle's linebackers unblocked and with space to work in. The three must be able to secure single blocking for the Leo, and in that role works a bit like an edge-setting five in a 3-4. At its best, the three should be able to punish single blocks like Brandon Mebane and Red Bryant at their respective bests. But Branch rarely did the latter, yet Seattle fielded the NFL's best scoring defense. Branch, it could be said, didn't do much, but he did what was required.

And therein lies the intrigue. Branch should be a rare position of easy upgradeability on an otherwise elite defense. If Jesse Williams were healthy and not significantly undermined by those bits of injuries that never heal, he could hold ground like Branch, but make plays. But if not Williams, well ... the field is, to my eyes, a bad kind of mystery. There's upside, there's never not upside, but Tony McDaniel and Jaye Howard are on the slight side, and it's not hard to envision either getting blown to smithereens by a double team.

The situation is such that Williams is probably the hope, one of the other guys improving upon their career performance is the outside hope, and the position proving to be weak enough that Seattle looks to add castoffs or make a trade is at least possible, if not likely.

Whatever the case, I cannot imagine watching whoever mans the three this preseason with anything but rapt attention. He's got shoes to fill, the shoes of an exceptionally large man, hirkin-shirkin' through a multimillion dollar career, and those are surprisingly big shoes.

...

Things learned researching the preceding: "Monstar" is a Korean television show about a K-pop boy band named Men in Black. Monstar may be a portmanteu of "mon" Australian slang for man, and "star." It is certainly a pun on "monster." Indigenous Australians from Thursday Island share more in common culturally with the indigenous people of Papua New Guinea. In Torres Strait Islander mythology, putting mud on your face makes you look like a ghost. The Australian Prime Minister's boyfriend is a hairdresser. SB Nation's auto tag misspells Kareem's name "Abdul Jabar."

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