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5 Players to Watch: Review

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Sorry about the brevity and lateness of this post. I work at UPS. Today, whilst carrying a package, I tripped and then jammed my right hand between the package and the interior edge of the loading door. It's not broken or anything, but it is kind of painful to type. So, anyway, we'll have the normal stuff up on gameday, but I'm taking Saturday, Monday and Tuesday off. Merry Christmas to all who celebrate, and I'm sure Field Gulls won't be missed.

Deion Branch: Branch had a solid game. Early on, he found holes in the Panthers' zone, but disappeared for much of the second half. He had the reception total, 8, but failed to break a pass farther than 15 yards and, thus, not the explosiveness. The chemistry between Beck and Branch is very streaky. Branch will carve up a D for a drive and then not be targeted for the next two. Stay tuned.

Chris Gray: Gray was godawful. He started the game with 2 big blown blocks and ended the day with 5. That's only half the story though. Like a bad comedy that occasionally makes you cringe, Gray was not only terrible in spots, but bad throughout. The danger with any especially bad lineman is the chance of a botched block turning into a free defender turning into an injured quarterback. Gray is the equivalent of a .210 hitter who occasionally flings the bat into the dugout.

Rob Sims: Sims was smoked by Kris Jenkins for a sack, but otherwise held his own in pass pro. The last few weeks notwithstanding, pass protection hasn't been a major problem for Sims. As a run blocker he had a few nice plays, but given the Hawks limited total carries, and further limited number of carries in which he was a direct contributor, his performance rates a big, fat incomplete.

Jordan Babineuax: I've covered Babs in as much detail as I can, so, look at it like this: When Josh Wilson returns, the Hawks are assured a significant upgrade at a very important position.  

Brandon Mebane: No one play stands out, and he didn't have the dominant showing we've seen in previous contests, but visible or not, he made an impact. DeAngelo Williams and Deshaun Foster averaged about 3.3 yards per carry, but that's misleading. Here's a better way to look at it, in 33 rush attempts, the two were successful on just 11. On 15 rushes, they rushed for 1 or fewer yards. Sure, Foster and Williams are boom and bust backs (43% and 39% success rates, respectively), but the Hawks forced 6% more bust than the second bustiest back in the league, Shaun Alexander. So even when Mebane is not phenomenal, and it warrants mentioning that Mike Wahle is a very good guard, he's still a big part of a phenomenal run D.