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.
Sean Locklear, like Kelly Jennings, is best recognized for how infrequently he forces you to recognize him. Locklear is a steady right offensive tackle that excels against speed rushers. His greatest weakness is a sustained bull rush. His poorest showings were both against 3-4 defenses, at Cleveland and at Pittsburgh. I don’t expect Locklear to play especially better this coming season, but I do think three separate factors will improve the perception of his play. The first is a running back capable of reaching the edge. Seattle ran the ball just 38 times off right end, and was the third worst team in football at doing so. The second is replacing Chris Gray with Rob Sims. Gray’s failings put an undue burden on Locklear. I didn't think this play qualified as a highlight or lowlight, but it does elucidate the travails of playing beside a human turnstile:
[My] biggest concern about Spencer is that he's simply not showing the power you expect from him. It's possible that he's suffering collaterally from Gray's poor play. Sean Locklear sure is. Lock likely got charged for allowing Beck's fourth sack of the game, but Gray was largely to blame. Hawks, three wide, single back, tight end formation; after the snap the Saints stunt on the right offensive side. Brian Young moves aggressively right, pushing Gray back and into Lock, Lock is essentially picked out of the play and Charles Grant stunts in to the gaping hole along the right "A" gap. Sack, play over, Gray looks gassed and if anyone, anyone can play a serviceable right guard in practice it might be time to begin giving them looks.
Sims and Locklear should comprise an excellent pass blocking right side. And third, Seattle plays its tight end mostly off right tackle. While Marcus Pollard was not a terrible blocker, John Carlson is stronger and so much more of receiving threat that he should improve Seattle’s ability to run off right tackle and around right end.
The question that remains for Locklear is can he become a solid left tackle? I’m skeptical. He looked excellent in last year’s preseason, but though he’s quick, agile and has good technique, he lacks vital strength. He doesn’t blow opponents off the line run blocking and given his weakness to the bull rush, can easily be game planned against. On the right he can be regularly aided by a tight end, but on he left he will be asked to more often block alone. Further, while a defense lacks incentive to game plan against a right tackle, all defenses attempt to overwhelm and exploit whatever weakness they can against an opposing left tackle. A vulnerable blindside is death to the passing attack. Lock turned 27 yesterday. He’s entering his peak power/athleticism seasons. It’s possible he improves his strength and takes that next step, becoming a well-rounded, sturdy left tackle. If he can, his recent extension will be a bargain.