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The Tape: to start,to hesitate;to stop

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For the first time this year, the defense really betrayed the offense. And like last week's contest in Pittsburgh, what the Saints exposed could become a blueprint on how to beat this Hawks' D in the future: Misdirection destroys Seattle's overaggressive defense. Who knew Cummings had discovered it over a half a century ago.

  • The simplest explanation is usually the truest, and it must be conceded that in many ways Reggie Bush simply had a very good evening rushing the football. On New Orleans twelfth play of their second drive, Bush put a hand on Jammal Brown's hip, trailed until Brown destroyed Lofa Tatupu and then cutback right. The run netted 19 yards, and Bush expertly picked through his blockers from beginning to end. You can't fault Tatupu for being blown out by Brown, or any one Seahawk for missing an assignment or blowing a tackle, Bush picked his spots and used his agility to thread his way through Seattle's D.
  • Since we're being all rub-a-dub about good things that happened, here is a brief list of everything else Seattle's D did well in the first half on Sunday night: On the first play of New Orleans second drive, Darryl Tapp blew past Brown for the kind of instant penetration that destroys an offense. Two plays later, Mebane sliced into the backfield, forcing Bush outside where Peterson cleaned up. On the 15th play of this colossal drive, Tatupu smacked Mike Karney out of the way and stuffed Bush after a yard. Patrick Kerney got a few quick steps on Jon Stinchcomb that forced a false start and a throw away by Drew Brees. And, uh, oh Brian Russell flew up for the rare backside containment on New Orleans first play of their third drive. That's basically it.
  • Did I say containment, holy smokes!, that was a novel sighting. Misdirection absolutely destroyed Seattle all game. Lo, a sub list.
    • Fourth play, second Saints drive: The Hawks are in a 3-3 Nickel, my favorite formation. Seattle has beat the Saints into 3rd and 10, Seattle covers the downfield receivers and the pocket is breaking down. Bush slides free short left, with Peterson just a half a yard right of him and Leroy Hill well left. Brees passes it to Bush, Peterson attempts a futile arm tackle and then Hill inexplicably runs right at the much faster Bush. It's a horrendously misguided angle and when Bush whips past him, Hill goes from containing the outside left to completely out of the play. Bush gets 11 and the first down.
    • 16th play, same drive. Kerney penetrates, no backside containment. Bush runs for 13, facemask penalty converts the first.
    • Fifth play, third New Orleans drive. First and ten, the Hawks are in a base package w/ Deon Grant playing up. At the snap the Saints left side creates a big mess, Baraka Atkins leveled, Grant flies in, gets picked by Karney and only Kelly Jennings stands between Bush and the sidelines. Jennings takes a miserable angle, again somehow inexplicably underestimating Bush's speed, breaks outside containment and watches Bush dash past him for 22 along the left sideline. It's the first, and hopefully last, time I have pined for Kelly Herndon.
  • Can I ask what the hell NBC was doing showing a close up of Mike Holmgren's play calling card?
  • Back to business. Tru played decent. Grant was a non-entity. Russell is the reactionary fling following Ken Hamlin: Where Hamlin lived in the first fifteen yards, Russell rarely strays from 20 yards past the line of scrimmage. It's not the worst thing a safety can do, but it does leave a lot of middle-deep post routes open. Oh, and Jennings played awful. Here's a three play stretch that best summed up Seattle's secondary:
    • Seventh play, Saints final drive of the half. It's 1st and 4 into the end zone. Seattle rushes seven, Brees feeling nary a whisper of pressure tosses the ball to Marques Colston. Jennings blows coverage, but luckily Colston drops the pass.
    • Eighth play, Seattle in goal line formation. Hawks blitz on play action, Grant gets penetration, Brees rushes a pass to Eric Johnson. Trufant absolutely mugs Johnson, but doesn't get called.
    • Ninth play, Hawks again in goal line. Hawks blitz, Brees tosses it out to Colston, Jennings blows coverage, this time Colston hauls in the touchdown reception. Fantasy owners rejoice. I attempt to bite off my own fist.
  • It's time some blame begins to fall not just on John Marshall--whose defense crumbled minus the pass rush--but on Jim Mora Jr, too. Mora inexplicably (there's that word again) calls zone coverage on nearly every third down play. A big part of teams converting so many long third downs is that their receivers are finding gaping spaces between the Hawks' DBs. No one, minus the injured Josh Wilson, on Seattle's roster has ball hawking instincts. Jennings and Trufant are pretty dang good cover corners. No matter the down or distance, no matter the number of opposing wide receivers, Seattle stays in their base package and watches some daMN receiver find a hole in the zone over and over and over again. I understand attempting to force turnovers. I understand sacrificing yards and even first downs in the attempt. But at some point, you just need to stall your opponents' drive. You just need to man up against their receivers and force an incompletion. I've never before seen Seattle work in zone this consistently on third down, and I've never in my life seen a team more unsuccessful as stopping third and long. Ferkrist'sake, if I have to see another opposing receiver catch a ball a foot in front of the first down marker with a Seattle DB (especially Russell) waiting on the other end of the first down marker I'm going to begin popping capillaries in my forehead. That strategy concedes the first down. I rarely attack the coaching. I think most mistakes are a matter of execution and not play-calling, but this rash of first down conversions against a swiss cheese zone smacks of poor coaching in the secondary. That's on you Mora.