I don't think Seattle is any more inclined to blow a lead than any other team, but the fans sure think they are. So it's nice that after a miserable third quarter, the Hawks kicked the chair from under the Cards in the fourth. After the Pollard touchdown made it 34-14 it was all over but the crying for the Arizona. Today we feature a few extended points with a gamewide scope.
- In 17 of 67 plays, Kerney broke free from his blocker or blockers and had an open lane to the ball carrier behind the line of scrimmage. That forces incompletions, interceptions, causes rushers to cut against their rush lanes and, all around, disrupts an opponent's offense. Kerney isn't blindingly fast along the edge, he gets most of his sacks by way of a good burst off the snap, a great push move that gets him separation, clean lines to the quarterback, but above all, hustle. What has to frighten Cardinals fans is that Kerney made such a mockery of Levi Brown mostly by way of speed rushing the outside. Kerney's quick, but he's not elite or otherworldly. No, Brown is just very, very slow - or, rather, inagile. Brown was known mostly as a run blocker in college, something that sent up major warning flags for me predraft. After all, the NFL is a passing league. Brown's enjoyed a pretty solid rookie season, but as preposterous as it might sound, NFL teams might just now be figuring him out. If he really is as slow as he looked on Sunday, he's going to have a hell of a time competing in the NFL. Not every team has a pass rusher as good as Kerney, or to extend, a pass rushing left side as good as Kerney and Rocky Bernard, but most have an edge rusher as fast as Kerney somewhere on the roster. When third and long rolls around, I think a team would be foolish not to deploy him against the Cards young right tackle.
- Sims rebounded a bit, getting some nice sustained blocks on the Hawks scoring drive. Floyd Womack got some work, too, and as much as I've torn the guy down, he didn't look bad. One thing he can do better than any other guard on the Hawks' roster is pull block. He's not really fast, but he takes good lines to his defender and engages him. Womack isn't strong at the point, gets pushed back pretty easy, but not as badly as Chris Gray. Perhaps there's an internal reason that this is not possible, or perhaps Holmgren just thinks he owes Gray something after so many years of service, but it seems like if the coach is interested in getting Womack some snaps, that Gray is one that should be spelled. Even if Holmgren believes that Gray is the Hawks' best guard, Seattle no longer has a ton to play for, and it would make sense with the Hawks no longer having much at stake to give the old man some snaps off.
- Tru showcased some of those ball skills we’ve long looked for from him. He’s been a top cover guy for the last two years (albeit on some very shoddy secondaries), but this season he’s shown both the ability to shutdown a receiver, and play the ball for the pick. With that said, it’s not likely that Tru would have attempted either of his two second half picks if not for the Hawks being up big. Each was a little risky, jumping routes and thereby breaking coverage, but both were done expertly. The question for Tru, who’s already turned into an elite NFL corner, is this growth? Will he take his big day on Sunday and turn it into confidence or cockiness? Tru at his best has shown the ability to lockdown a receiver, the ability to jump routes for the game-changing pick, and, most importantly, the ability to know when to do each.
- I think Tim Ryan said this in the third quarter, but it bears repeating. "Lofa Tatupu's been quiet out there." Now, I don't care much when an announcer occasionally slips up on a player's name, and given 3 hours to fill, they're all going to sound stupid at some point, but the error here is one of logic and I'm going to exploit it to make a point. The reason that Ryan thought Tatupu was having a quiet day is that he only recorded 4 tackles. Middle and inside linebackers are almost always judged on their tackle totals. Tatupu only had 4 tackles because the Cards only rushed 15 times. They only rushed 15 times because they were playing from behind, often way behind, for most of the game. Therefore, through no fault of his own, Tats did not have many chances to tackle anyone. The truth is that tackles is almost never a good indicator of a player's ability or importance to a team. Bad teams have linebackers with more tackles because bad teams get run on more, face more sustained drives and force fewer incomplete passes. An excellent example of this is Patrick Willis who leads the league in tackles. It's not a coincidence that the Niners have faced the 2nd most total plays against, or the third most rushing plays, a 65.3% opponent completion percentage, or that San Francisco's 2nd and 3rd leading tacklers are both DBs. That isn't to say Willis is bad, I don't really know, just to say that we all need to divorce ourselves from the idea that a tackle, in of itself, indicates that a player has done something right. Often, it just means someone else has done something wrong.