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The Tape: Third Quarter Reflections 9/18

Sorry folks, only have time for the third quarter today. I'll finish up tomorrow, and see if we can read anything into the stats, see how the last two weeks compare, if we can pick up any strategic tendencies in the early going and maybe look into the Deion Branch's play in different formations, but for now...

  • Lofa Tatupu made a game changing interception on the Cardinals first drive of the half. You might have noticed that, but did you notice...The Hawks are in a base defensive package. Ken Whisenhunt's power rushing attack kept Seattle in a base package for most of the contest. Both of the corners are deep, Deon Grant is deep and Brian Russell is shallow--I'm about ready to say that these two are used interchangeably. It's first and ten, the Cards are on their seventh play, driving, nearing midfield. The call is a play action, at first all three linebackers stay shallow spying the backfield. Matt Leinart is staring a hole into Larry Fitzgerald, Tatupu reads the play-fake and turns back sprinting into position. No sooner does he turn back to the line of scrimmage than the ball arrives, the young Pro Bowler catches then sprints 18 yards back across the fifty. Just an awesome and truly improbable play. Tatupu reads Leinart expertly and makes a catch many receivers would drop. Fitzgerald was otherwise nearly uncovered, if Tatupu had merely defensed the play it would have been impressive, but the reflexes it takes to catch a ball unseen is astounding.
  • The line really started to gel in the second half. Rob Sims, in particular, recording two slick pull blocks. Walter Jones also looked much better after six shaky quarters. Their play, far more than Alexander, is why the rush offense came to life in the third quarter.
  • Marcus Trufant often gives too much cushion in coverage. If you're playing Rodney Marvin Harrison perhaps the five yard separation is warranted, but against Anquan Boldin playing so soft allows for a lot of short, but productive completions.
  • The Hawks slant attack hasn't been working recently and Eric Green's near interception on the third play of the Hawks' second drive might explain why. The slant works best when the corner gives enough cushion for the receiver to keep a step ahead. The way to do that is to take a false step forward before breaking into a slant. The false first step opens the possibility of a downfield route and gets the cornerback's momentum moving backwards. On this play Deion Branch made a cardinal mistake, he began moving laterally off the snap. Green had little trouble reading slant and immediately broke down on the route. I would like to think that this is something that could be resolved by the Hawks over the next week in film study, because the slant pass is a staple of the Walsh offense, but recently it's been anything but beneficial for the Hawks.