Seattle protects leads the way Orson Welles protected money: By assuming time will run out before all can be given away. That's why it's difficult to read too much good into the performance of Shaun Hill. One the one hand, Hill earned 25 DYAR. More than Matt Hasselbeck has earned all season (Hasselbeck's is actually negative). On the other hand, Seattle was content to allow Hill all the underneath completions he could throw. The strategy worked for Seattle, even if it marred their overall defensive stats. Not every team is so prodigal with its lead. I've seen better coordinators - gasp! - continue to use the same damn strategy they devised to stop the offense the rest of the game until their opponents' final desperation drive(s) in the fourth. I will say, Hill showed something I've never seen from J.T. O'Sullivan: pocket awareness. In the eighth play of San Francisco's 14 play third quarter drive, 3rd and five from the 50, Hill peeked Julian Peterson coming fast on an edge rush, stepped up into the pocket and found Frank Gore for ten and the first. I wonder is the high bust rate among first-round quarterbacks the unpredictable nature of the position or an emphasis on arm strength and accuracy over read and pocket awareness? I've seen quarterbacks succeed with only the latter, but none with only the former.
Leonard Weaver vs. Owen Schmitt Redux: Weaver was the star, and in one game he nearly overtook John Carlson as Seattle's most valuable skill position player: 54 DYAR vs. 57 DYAR. But Weaver's "skill" for less than five snaps a game, he's "support", as in pass blocking and lead-blocking, roughly 40. The weight of his offensive contributions might make up for his poor lead-blocking and exciting if inconsistent pass blocking. It certainly means he should play. He shouldn't play fullback ahead of Owen Schmitt.
Now, I'm going to indulge in a fantasy for a second. I don't believe the elements of an NFL offense are that complex. Further, I don't think the elements of one NFL offense are that far from another NFL offense. Therefore, I think it's feasible that a coach could alter his offense somewhat to cater to his talent. How hard would it be for Seattle to simply play Schmitt at fullback and Weaver at his more natural position at halfback? Weaver could still receive and occasionally run, he could still pass block and in line run block, and he and Schmitt could share the same formation without sacrificing the run or pass. Both would play, Kerry Colbert, Jordan Kent and Jeb why-the-Futzier-are-you-still-on-the-team would play much less, and instead of choosing between benching a great receiving fullback or playing a great receiving fullback who can't really play fullback, the team would utilize both talents. Am I stupid? Is this at all far fetched? I'm not reinventing the wheel, there's plenty of offenses, even plays within Holmgren's playbook that feature a halfback and fullback. The only rule broken is the rule of strict positions and that's a rule every team in the NFL regularly breaks. I mean, think, Julius Jones running off-tackle behind Walter Jones, Leonard Weaver, a pulling Mike Wahle and Owen Schmitt.
The Darryl Tapp Effect: For whatever reason, when Darryl Tapp and Lawrence Jackson line up together, Tapp always plays left and Jackson right. It's strange of course to put the edge rusher on the quarterback's front side and the anti-whiteman-dance (that is, everything but the hands) run stuffer on the quarterback's blindside, but that's what's done and that's what Seattle did on Rocky Bernard's second sack and first forced fumble. Here's the setup:
Seattle 34 - San Francisco 13
3-2-SF 39 (5:38)
Niners, 4 WR (2 Left/2 Right0, Rb. Seattle in a 4-1 Dime. At the snap, Tapp explodes on a nice short angled edge rush that pulls Adam Snyder wide. This is important because an offensive line is strongest when its compact, as it bows and players are isolated pass rushing gaps appear. Tapp's edge rush and Brandon Mebane's forced double team isolates Tony Wragge and Bernard is able to exploit the gaping "C" gap on Wragge's right. From there it's just a good skill and talent showing by Bernard as he closes on Hill and swats the ball from his hand. It's two games, but it's good to see Tapp back. Jackson is still struggling as a pass rusher. The talent is there. He's very agile and almost too-live for his own good, bolting back and forth around the offensive line instead of sinking in and fighting towards the ball carrier, but his hand-fighting is weak to non-existent. Once, I saw him spin-move, get nowhere, look bemused a yard in front of the tackle and stay there as the camera panned towards the receiver. Still mastering that move I guess. Two bad offenses, sure, but Seattle's defense has finally looked a little like itself and that's a lot about Tapp, his pass rush and the collateral pass rush he creates.