I have my guys. Rocky Bernard is my guy. Kelly Jennings has a tenuous hold on the title. Sims, Weaver and Engram are definitely my guys. If this game is any indication, Brandon Mebane will be finding a place on mine and many Hawks fans lists. He's not a star, but damn does he help this team win.
- Chartric Darby had a real nice penetration and tackle the play before his career ended. Second play of New Orleans' third drive, he holds containment and then knifes in when Reggie Bush attempts to bounce the run back inside. Result: two yard loss. Good luck Chuck, I hope you have the sense to retire.
- Brandon Mebane got two looks with the first team unit in the second half, and I am happy to report he rocked. The very first play of the second half he rips into the backfield, Drew Brees stepped up and delivered a pass to the seemingly uncovered Lance Moore. Kelly Jennings is playing soft off the receiver, so he doesn't really blow the coverage as much as simply allow the reception. Grrr. Sixth play, same drive, second and twelve after Tatupu hammers Bush for a loss on first, Mebane gets penetration and then chases down Bush for a minimal gain. Mebane is surprisingly quick. That's a nice little opener, a ndmore than we've seen from Darby in weeks, but Mebane gets better. Mebane records another penetration, still being single blocked, on the second play of the Saints' second drive. He blows the tackle, but by rule a blown tackle by a lineman against a run play is not such a calamity, Bush is staggered and Darryl Tapp cleans up. Two yard gain.
Zoom to the second drive of the Mebane era. First play, Mebane is playing over the center like a true nose tackle, Jeff Faine hits him but gets no push, Jamar Nesbit adjusts, chips Mebane still getting no push, this disrupts the play, Nesbit never gets to the second level, the Hawks linebackers close in, Mebane sheds Faine and tackles Bush for a two yard gain. Next play, this time New Orleans is keying Mebane, putting both a guard and center on him from the onset, Mebane splits the double team and tackles Bush for a two yard loss.
Will Mebane be able to keep this up? I don't know, but I would be astounded if he doesn't outplay Darby. Mebane also adds some badly needed pass rush.
- Ben Obomanu was terrible all game. The Hawks, perhaps wisely, kept Engram in the slot for a number of plays despite his nominal role as flanker. This moved Obomanu into the #1 wide receiver slot, and he's just not capable of getting consistent separation from a starting NFL corner--even Mike McKenzie. Hopefully, hopefully, Obomanu will play better once he's relegated to full time slot duties. Until then, it might be time to work Seneca Wallace into the offense on a full time basis. It's theoretically just one game until Seattle gets back Deion Branch and D.J. Hackett. Wallace, though a good backup QB, may have more short term value for the Hawks as a wide receiver. On the second play of Seattle's final drive, despite being double teamed, Wallace showed the concentration and hands to be an elite wide receiver on a 29 yard reception. I would love to see Wallace start with the first team unit against the Rams.
- Beck played better in a hopeless effort. So did Nate Burleson, who I believe still has much value as a slot receiver once Branch and Hackett return.
- Chris Gray and Chris Spencer had two blown blocks apiece. The biggest concern about Spencer is that he's simply not showing the power you expect from him. It's possible that he's suffering collaterally from Gray's poor play. Sean Locklear sure is. Lock likely got charged for allowing Beck's fourth sack of the game, but Gray was largely to blame. Hawks, three wide, single back, tight end formation; after the snap the Saints stunt on the right offensive side. Brian Young moves aggressively right, pushing Gray back and into Lock, Lock is essentially picked out of the play and Charles Grant stunts in to the gaping hole along the right "A" gap. Sack, play over, Gray looks gassed and if anyone, anyone can play a serviceable right guard in practice it might be time to begin giving them looks. Both Gray and Spencer are not playing well, but Spencer is young and could improve, Gray is 37 and has likely just hit the veteran wall. He's tired, he's banged up and he's quickly become a liability in pass and run blocking.
- What else do you need to know? Matt Hasselbeck audibled into the 37 yard Weaver run. Weaver did not have a particularly good hole, though he was rushing counter to an overload left blitz, he just did what you expect from a running back, he hit the hole, he read coverage and cut back across the field for a big gain. Nothing fancy. Bernard played a little better, hopefully he's getting healthy. Leroy Hill can't cover anyone--who knew? Oh yeah, everyone. Marcus Pollard is getting the job done. Patrick Kerney was badly facemasked on the Saints first play from their two. I was more critical than anyone about the Kerney signing, but he's hasn't played poorly this year. Seattle has faced some excellent pass blocking teams, I think their pass rush will step up in the next ten games.