Blown Blocks: 13
Good Blocks: 11
Very Good Blocks: 3
*Includes all games minus Week 10, Divisional Round and the second half of Week 3 and the first half of week 1.
It's the blocking not the rusher: Shaun Alexander had two nice runs that both went for first downs. I'm sorry, did I say Shaun Alexander, I meant Leonard Weaver and the Hawks offensive line had two nice runs that both went for first downs. Before anyone accuses me of a double standard, on both runs Alexander rushed five+ yards untouched and then was tackled after first contact. He did little more than run through the gaping hole created for him by the Hawks' run blockers. Both plays involved Walter Jones blocking in, Rob Sims pulling out and Leonard Weaver lead blocking effectively. That's it, but it worked. Now if only Alexander could do anything as a rusher.
Morris' touchdown run was on the Alexander special, an off-tackle run with Sims pull blocking and Weaver leading the way. As much as J.C. Pearson insisted that Weaver laid a punishing block on Lance Briggs, the run was mostly about Morris hitting the hole with authority and not breaking stride until he was in the endzone. Nothing fancy, just good blocking, good rushing and a TD.
Speaking of Sims, his is a great case of vividness triumphing over quantity. Memory that is. For the entire first half Sims was near flawless blocking. He was good in the run game. He held his own in the pass game. He even had a really nice block, pull, block on Morris's 6 yard rush. That we don't pay much attention to linemen until they screw up is not an excuse for ripping someone a new cornshoot. Remember, you're prevailing memory of any one player, coach or game is often defined by a particularly standout play, but that memory and that play are not best evidence for defining them or it.
Back to Sims: Sims had a growing pains type half. His missed a block on the screen to Engram, he missed a block when Alexander pirouetted to the ground and he actually missed two blocks when Beck got sacked by Michael Meyers. Here's how that last play went down. It's the fifth play of the Hawks third drive of the second quarter, Seattle has just benefitted from a neutral zone infraction by Justin Smith. It's third and 5, the Hawks are spread wide with 4 receivers and one back. Hasselbeck drops back but finds no one open. That's important, because the pass rush takes a second to develop. The Bengals are running stunts on the right side, Sims steps up and puts a glancing block on Meyers and then moves to engage Smith. Meyers is passed on to Walter Jones, Jones doesn't exactly lock down Meyers but he doesn't really do anything wrong either. The rush develops when the stunting Smith puts an inside move on Sims and hurtles nearly untouched towards Hasselbeck. Jones attempts to block both Meyers and the now free Smith, Beck has nowhere to run, Meyers disengages from Jones (who is no doubt having flashbacks of 2006) and records the sack. For the record Jones' man records the sack, but it's Sims who makes the fatal mistakes. He never put much of a hit on Meyer leaving Jones in a bad spot to stop the rushing tackle and he completely whiffs on Smith. It's Smith barreling down at Hasselbeck from the inside that compromises the pocket and forces Jones to disengage.
Overtime. The Hawks win the flip and start their drive on their own 30. Against a soft rush, Beck improvises a rollout and completes a 17 yard strike to Bobby Engram. After a two yard dish, and an incomplete forced by a blown block by Lock, the Hawks are staring down third and eight. Seattle sets up 4 wide, Weaver the lone back; at the snap, Cleveland rushes 3 but gets pressure when Lock blows another block allowing Orpheus Roye to get free. Sensing the rush, Beck scrambles, catches a good block by Sims and dives...for...the...first! The officials measure, review and overturn, rightly determining that Beck only rushed for 7 - and a half. The Seahawks go for it. Half-a-yard and the drive's sustained, Seattle will have 3+ downs to crawl 10 yards into the outer limits of Brown's range. The Hawks break huddle with three wide receivers, Will Heller on the left end and Morris the lone back. At the snap, Rob Sims pulls, Chris Spencer springs upright against two Browns defenders and is exploded back, Sims glances off his blocker, and Morris does little more than plunge ahead into the barely visible crease between Sims and the collapsed Walter Jones. He's well short of the first. Browns' ball. Game over.
Sims completely missed his block against Adam Carriker on the Morris safety, but Chris Gray blew his respective block, too. If Carriker hadn't caught Morris from behind, it's very possible that La'Roi Glover would have dropped him in the end zone from the front.
As a longtime defender of Rob Sims, the 3rd quarter in Sunday's contest was a NIGHTMARE. He was so bad, in fact, I couldn't help but think that Pork Chop had subbed in. Nope. The problems started for Sims on the fourth play of the Hawks first drive, on an Alexander rush up the gut. He did his best matador block, you know, the one where your hands are the cape and the defender the bull? Luckily for Sims, the play went largely unnoticed because his defender succeeded only in running behind and away from Alexander. Two plays later, Sims and Walter Jones get tangled on what was either a botched pop block (Tackle in Guard out, thanks for the terminology minor threat) or one of the worst blown assignments of Jones' venerable career. I'll go with the former. Jones and Sims double Joe Tafoya, allowing the outside linebacker to come unblocked. Beck is forced to throw it away.
The next drive starts with a really nice block by Jones. We talk so much about blown blocks, or pancake blocks, but the best block is the doin' your job block. Joe Tafoya (remember him?) attempts a spin move and Jones freezes him halfway, so that Tafoya is neutralized and the two make a very short conga line. On the next play Chris Gray blows a block (more on this tomorrow) but Beck finds Ben Obomanu who snags the reception, pops a couple tackles and ends up w/ 18 yards and the first. Now it's fun time. For the next three plays, Sims blows his block. That's right Bloof, his fellatio ratio is 1. The Cards have shifted Dockett left, believing as Tim Ryan puts it that Sims is the "weakest link", and on each play Dockett rips through Sims like he wasn't there. The problem would seem to be that Sims isn't getting off the line fast enough. The result is a quickly stalled drive. I've never seen Sims play so poorly. Sure, Dockett is wont to make even good guards suffer, but this was just a terrible series for Sims. Hopefully we can chalk this up to growing pains, but if Holmgren wasn't satisfied with his left guard before, I can only imagine what he's thinking now. The Hawks line might be about to get a lot less kosher.
Oh, Rob Sims, how I sought to shepherd you through the trials of your sophomore season...*sigh...In the end Sims was neither as bad as most thought nor as good as I'd hoped. Sims looked like a first class steal his rookie season, starting in week 15, and immediately grasping Mike Holmgren's demanding left guard duties. His and Chris Spencer's play were credited with Seattle's late rushing revival in 2006. Those two looked like 2/5ths of a promising future in the divisional round against the Bears, but both struggled in 2007. Unfortunately, a move to right guard might be a best case scenario for the embattled Sims. That's sorely too bad, because Sims was steady for most of the season, and his best skill, in the box pass blocking, would translate seamlessly to right. I still have high hopes for Sims, but a bad reputation is hard to shed. He has much to prove in the comings months and no guarantee of a starting spot should he not.