With all the grousing about Seattle's small players, it is one of their largest that's hurt this defense the most: Lawrence Jackson. Jackson started strong against the Bills, excellent in support and looking like a natural playing situational defensive tackle. When he tallied two sacks against the 49ers, I initially thought "Oh sweet, the kid's picking it up a notch." But those sacks were almost incidental; Jackson was the first man to the quarterback as the pocket collapsed from all three sides. In fact, Jackson has been a ghost. Providing little pressure and rarely holding the point. His continued starting bespeaks to my point that Seattle is developing a team for tomorrow, because there's little doubt that Darryl Tapp is the better defensive end today. Tapp's sack output was concentrated in a single dominant showing against the Rams, but he was consistently disruptive. His speed off the edge limited opposing quarterback's time in the pocket and covered for some of Seattle's inadequacies in the secondary.
From here on out, we'll center tape study on players that impact Seattle's future. Calling out Brian Russell's awfulness is a bit superfluous. If you can't see he's terrible you're not watching, and if he's still on the roster in 2009, I'm boycotting.
Here's how Jackson and Tapp compared yesterday through the first quarter. Tracking line rotations can be a chore, but these two make it a little easier. Tapp starts from a three point, Jackson from a four.
Jackson played eight of the first nine Green Bay downs. For all the talk about spelling Patrick Kerney, the rotation seems isolated to Jackson and Tapp. Two things stand out. The Packers never assigned a tight end to his side, and Jackson never gave them a reason to. Here's the brief list of results.
- Washed out.
- Misses run.
- Good contain.
- Blocked out.
- Faked out of play.
Then Tapp subbed in.
- Spin inside move, tripped in pile.
- Tight end assigned left, Green Bay false start.
- Tight end assigned left, edge rush.
- Tight end assigned left and right, penetration Tapp.
Peterson subbed in, then Seattle went to a 3-3 and that was the end of the quarter. The problem is that Jackson has no pass rush moves. He has decent burst off the snap, isn't easily overmatched, but does almost nothing to get free of the blocker. He also overthinks plays, fading off the blocker when a good hard move into the line would be better. I won't fault a guy for making hustle tackles downfield, but if the option is jam the pile/rush the passer or fade off the blocker/find the ball carrier, I'll take the former.