Before we delve into the 3rd quarter, I wanted to talk briefly about Howard Green. Some may know that I don't much like Green. That is, I don't think he's a particularly good defensive tackle. Against Minnesota, Green forced a fumble, recorded two sacks and caught the improbable interception of the preseason. Just an awesome statistical showing. Green can do that. He's a playmaker. What he needs to be is a run stuffer and I don't think he can. At 6'2", 320, Green has the size of a solid 1-tech run stopper. That impression, that he could hold the point and clog rush lanes, is why Green bounced around the league, disappeared for a couple seasons before resurfacing in 2007. See, Green is not a run stuffer. He's overmatched against double teams and isn't even really reliable against single blocks. He's a single gap defensive tackle trapped in the body and athleticism of a two gap tackle. Paired with Craig Terrill, the two, Seattle's little man unit, watched on for the Cedric Benson careen, the DeAngelo Williams cutback and Ryan Grant reading Seattle its last rights. He's also never recorded a regular season sack in 24 games.
With Tubbs out, this team badly needs a healthy Red Bryant to create some semblance of sturdiness on its second team tackle rotation. Not to consciously run against the grain, but - that was a hell of a game for Green and I'd just rather he didn't play too much when it matters.
- Josh Wilson blew coverage in a familiar site for Seattle DBs. He slipped attempting to breaking on a simple curl route.
- David Hawthorne has some serious pop. That pop, power, explosiveness, tackling, whatever, has a lot to do with his forced fumble on the play of the third quarter, but I'd give equal credit to Terrill.
- It's 2nd and 7. Minnesota aligns with 3 WR, TE, Rb. Seattle is in a base 4-3. At the snap, the Vikings attempt to pull the right tackle and center, with the two guards collapsing the middle. Babin, who had a very good game, stalemates the guards, but this is incidental. D.D. Lewis targets pulling right tackle Marcus Johnson. Johnson responds with a somewhat premature and somewhat misguided cut block. That leaves Albert Young exposed. Hawthorne annihilates Young. Young's collapsing limbs squirt the ball high into the air. But it is what happens first, why Hawthorne has a five yard freeway to the ball carrier, without a blocker in sight, that makes this play.
- Let's start again. At the snap, the Vikings attempt to pull the right tackle and center, with two guards collapsing the middle. The center, the man who would have sealed off the inside and prevented Hawthorne from an open path to the ball carrier, is retarded by Terrill's almost instantaneous penetration. Terrill's presence in the backfield, two yards deep before the center can even fully pull, is what forces John Sullivan to readjust and take on Terrill. Without him, Hawthorne tees off. Without Terrill, Hawthorne doesn't force a fumble.
- Directions for a Lawrence Jackson sack: Explode off the snap, maintain perfect spacing against the tackle, shove said tackle into next week, enter trail position on quarterback, hit that second gear like a Boxster, and, oh yeah, be so damn smart you poke the ball away before sacking your former teammate. I'm gettin' a jersey.
- Bumpus looked good. Real good. And quick. But let's be clear. Minnesota had the 23rd ranked pass defense last season. Minus McCauley, their defensive back depth is atrocious. As sure as Seneca Wallace's pass to Joe Filani was a nice show of arm strength if not accuracy, it was doubly proof that the Vikings' DBs are completely clueless. Speaking of Bumpus, clueless and Filani, quitting on your route is bad Joel. Quitting on the route so that you are seen jogging past - almost shielding - the targeted receiver, one Michael Bumpus on a crisp deep out route, is why you can start packing your bags.
- Guess what? Emotion is stupid. T.J. Duckett didn't play poorly. For one, he didn't actually fumble. Well, he did kind of fumble on the play negated by a Letroy Guion facemask, but Tyrell Johnson sunk his helmet right into the ball. Duckett didn't do anything particularly careless. The second non-fumble fumble, was just a non-fumble. As in, a player is allowed to let go of the ball when he's clearly down. The officials overturned it and the play shouldn't be held against Duckett. Actually, I'll get back to that play in a second, because a funny thing happens...
- I watched Duckett make good decisions. I watched Duckett fight through trash for an additional two yards on 3rd and 2 on the Minnesota 14. And I watched Duckett take the brunt of Seattle's bad blocking.
- Flash ahead. Seattle's second drive, fourth play, 3rd and 6 on the Seattle 42. Mansfield Wrotto misreads the blitz, or is misdirected by Steve Vallos' line call, and two Vikings shoot into the pocket, chase Seneca Wallace and "force" an intentional grounding. Three plays later, Seattle with the ball again after Jamar Adams and Hawthorne team up for another forced fumble. Seattle's in 2 WR, I, TE formation. Vikings, base 4-3. It's 1st and 10 on the Minnesota 18. At the snap, Wrotto again badly blows a block allowing Erin Henderson and half of Minnesota's defense through the proverbial crack in the dam. Duckett isn't Barry Sanders and he's not football agile and he's not going to put a move on everyone or bounce the ball outside when a geyser of purple bodies are bearing down on him. The worst we can say about Duckett is he didn't accept the failed block and do his best to minimize lost yards. That's bad, but not Wrotador bad.
- Moving along. First play, Seattle's final drive of the quarter. 3 WR, I against a Minny Nickel D. Kyle Williams is swam over, putting Duckett headlong into a free defensive end before he even hits the hole.
- Finally, to our non-fumble. 1st, 10, Seattle 46. The Hawks again break 3 wide, I against a Nickel D. The play involves a trap block from Ray Willis, who must cut across the line and seal the outside left. Willis is slow on the draw, or slow to recognition or just slow, and begins moving left only after seeing a free defender circling the left side. That's bad. Duckett, nearing the line of scrimmage perpendicularly intersects Willis' path, y'know running the ball, forcing Willis not to hold up, but rather to attempt a cut block that lowbridges Duckett and sends him tumbling head and ball first into the turf. Der.
- Duckett can be picky and slow in his first gear, but I think we can put the shovels away. He certainly didn't do anything on Friday to warrant murmurs of cutting him.