I'm working on a Podcast preview for Sunday's preseason matchup against the Chargers, so this will be pretty brief.
When the Hawks drafted Brandon Mebane I was pretty worried about one word that showed up again and again in his scouting reports: "engulfed". Having since watched some tape on the stout Goliath, who has a 33" reach, I realize now that by "engulfed" scouts meant that Mebane is short. Every play I've seen Mebane involved with, whether he factored in the tackle or not, he's a holy pain in the ass for offensive linemen. Mebane runs at 10,000 RPM all the time, and easily occupies multiple blockers on almost every play. He doesn't have Marcus Tubbs pass rush potential, lest we forget Tubbs recorded 5.5 sacks in 2005, but he will do wonders for keeping blockers off our linebackers. Tim Ruskell must be after a piece of this short man's heart, because in the last three drafts he has found some truly talented but undervalued players who slipped just because their stature.
A few observations from last nights game, I recorded it and tracked some of the play as a warm up for this season's Seahawks game charting.
- Tony Ugoh can't handle the edge rush. Whether he will learn to be able to in the next month will have a lot to do with how the Colts offense plays in 2007. The Colts have almost zero chance of not being a top 15 offense, but unless Ugoh can get Peyton some time, they won't be the top 5 offense they need to be to be contenders.
- Anthony Gonzalez is a sound route runner who will have a very productive season out of the slot. He didn't do much yesterday, but he was where he needed to be on most plays.
- Jim Sorgi is tremendously overrated. His professional career amounts to a football cup of coffee, but it was clear from yesterday that he's no Peyton Manning. He threw into a lot of coverages and was consistently inaccurate. If Manning loses playing time because of, oh, I don't know, a blown block by Ugoh, the Colts are sunk.
- Wade Phillips loves to blitz, and with Anthony Spencer and DeMarcus Ware, plus a strong coverage secondary, they will be allowed to. If they don't end the season in the top ten for sacks, I'll be flabbergasted.
- Jason Garret is a very efficient play caller, but the team needs to open up the vertical passing game a bit.
- Marion Barber looked very un-Marion Barber like, dancing way to much and not plowing forward.
- Doug Free looked very good, but against no-stringer Jeff Charleston. Free's lean as hell, but effectively strung the defender wide to create a good pocket. The Boys frequently gave him help by keeping extra blockers or using a tight end to chip, but the technique looks like it's there. I loved Free in the draft, and I think he has a decent shot at sticking at left tackle.
Whoops, make that Saints v. Bills, of which we will have no game thread. Sorry about that mistake.