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The Tape: Chris Spencer, Red Bryant, Brandon Mebane and John Marshall's Six

Sometimes I see something so interesting I want to share it right away even though I'm only partway into my tape analysis. Before we get there, let's talk about this week's emphasis: Chris Spencer, Brandon Mebane and Red Frickin' Bryant. I gotta say, I'm still on my first few go-rounds, but damn did this kid have a nice game against a strong, strong opponent: 2007 All-Rookie Aaron Sears.

The nice thing about analysis rather than cherry picking information to support your theory, ahem, is that you don't know your conclusion before your analysis. This isn't an opinion piece or bluster, it's my best interpretation of the truth. Like Chris Spencer played pretty well -- bonehead fumble not included. Spencer has benefited more than any Hawk from Mike Solari's new zone blocking scheme, and if he still falls off too man blocks in the run game, he's surprisingly solid at pass protection.

Chris Spencer

-Good pass block

-Controls zone, assists Wahle with a blindside on Chris Hovan

-Controls zone, cleans up Womack's blown block

-Pulls, blocks out Barrett Ruud

-Good pull block, again engaging Ruud

Early yet, but not bad.

. . .

Give Tim Ruskell this, he knows defensive tackles

Brandon Mebane

-Single blocked, decent push

-Forced double team, Joseph drops his block to double the disruptive Darryl Tapp (welcome back); Mebane abuses Jeff Faine, forces him back, sheds, pressures and nearly forces and interception

-Double team

Red Bryant

-Fights his way back into play

-Swims guard and fullback, tackles for 2 (On 2nd and 9)

And now the highlight/lowlight.

3-7-SEA 47 (Q1: 9:22)

Tampa breaks in a 2 WR (left), WR (right), split back formation with Jeff Garcia in the shotgun. The Seahawks in a 4-2 nickel. Seattle's defensive line is wide with a prominent gap between its tackles. They're running a blitz so simple, and so obvious, a Pop Warner quarterback could enumerate the blitzers and pass rush lanes. There's eight of them, and everyone is running straight ahead. How stupid is this? Consider, blitzes of 7+ rushers on 3rd and 7+ result in an average 61.4% DVOA by the offense. In other words, this blitz covers its bases: It's poorly timed, it's painfully obvious and it's semi-pro simple. Wonder what happens?

We're off. Seattle's rushing two blitzers two many, and the absence of Deon Grant and Josh Wilson leave Brian Russell, Marcus Trufant and Kelly Jennings in single coverage. The pressure is fast arriving, but concentrated along the outside, leaving Garcia with a clear lane to step up and pass. The one bright spot? Bryant just clobbers Joseph. Garcia launches it, Jennings matches Antonio Bryant stride for stride in lockdown coverage and then--

He sorta runs into Bryant, his right leg crosses under kicks his left leg out and he falls. That's it. Nothing fantastically awful. He tripped. Bryant slowed to track the ball, Jennings couldn't adjust fast enough, he tripped, six points.

It's easy to crucify Jennings. Sure, tripping is a damn bad thing for a corner to do. But show me the corner that doesn't trip. And that's why rushing 7+ on 3rd and 7+ results in a 61.4% DVOA, because corners fall down. Corners lose jump balls. Corners blow single coverage. Because the risk, a touchdown, far outweighs the reward, a sack. Think about it. With only three players in man coverage, how likely is a pick? With a blitz as obvious and blusterous, how likely is it that Garcia is hit by surprise and fumbles? I've tried to quiet my criticism of John Marshall, but I hope when the coaches sit down and watches the tape, Marshall steps up and admits that's his six. That's his six.