Last post before I take the next two days off.
What follows is the Brandon Mebane hit-list. Three plays where he excelled. I figure everyone could use a little reassurance after losing Marcus Tubbs, so here are three plays that hint at Mebane's ability. With the possible exception of Oakland, each was done against scrubs and it must be realized that Mebane still has much to prove against superior opposition. Still, doubts and cynicism are too easy. Instead, here are some reasons to be hopeful.
V. San Diego, 3rd quarter, 7:12
Mebane is lined up in the left tackle position, in the Hawk offense this is the nose tackle position--the one regularly manned by Chartric Darby and formerly Tubbs. At the snap Mebane explodes up and through a double team attempt by the center, quickly isolating the left guard one on one. Mebane stays so low coming off the snap and is thick, just massive in his lower torso. The bull rush has the Charger's left guard retreating, but it's Mebane's left swim/right club combo that allows him to shed just feet in front of Charlie Whitehurst. Whitehurst seeing Mebane's mud golem like figure barreling at him tosses a soft lob to the sideline, somewhat in the vicinity of Legedu Naanee. Mebane has the presence of mind to reach up for the tip, but the ball is practically shot-put. Mebane owns the third stringer; shows the ability to shed blockers, collapse the pocket and good overall field awareness.
V. Oakland, 2nd quarter, 2:54
The Raiders are backed up to their one yard line. Mebane is manning the point, with Craig Terrill to his right. Oakland calls a running play, with their offensive line pulling heavy left and Dominic Rhodes sweeping around left end. Unfortunately for the Raiders, Mebane blows up left guard Paul McQuistan off the snap, driving him three yards into the endzone and creating a massive hole in the center of Oakland's line. By the time Rhodes attempts to run out of the end zone, he's faced with a surge of blue trailing him to the right and Mebane's back squarely in front of him to the left. Darryl Tapp was credited with the safety, though Niko Koutouvides arrived almost simultaneously, but Mebane was the catalyst. His near-immediate penetration destroyed the Raiders' run blocking front, opening a hole for a sea of blue to rush through, and he was so far in the backfield that he cutoff Rhodes lone escape route. The play results in a safety.
V. Green Bay, 4th quarter, 4:00
You'll be excused if you turned off your TV before Mebane's best play, but sometimes perseverance lands a gem. The Packers are lined up in an I formation with a tight end along the right and the wide receivers split out in a traditional left/right formation. The right wide receiver is close to the line, in the slot but a step back from the line of scrimmage. Pre-snap he motions to the left side, still recessed from the line. It's clear at this point that a run play is probable (not considering the score for a second) because of the I formation and the unbalanced formation. As soon as the motioning wide receiver sets, the Packers snap, then hand the ball to Corey White. Mebane is at his customary position. The Pack send the guard and center slightly left, but converging on Mebane. Mebane pushes the guard out off him to the left, the guard then disengages to pick up a linebacker. Mebane swims around the center and puts a big blue body in the Packers' intended rush lane. White runs right into Mebane's awaiting arms. Warren Moon and Verne Lundquist discuss Brian Russell's beanie. This play, where he first forced a double team and then shed two blockers to stifle the oppositions rush lane is what the Hawks need the most out of Mebane.
Now, can he do it against the pros?