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The Tape: Seattle @ Minnesota 1st Qtr

We pick up the action with 11:50 remaining in the first. Jordan Kent hauls in Matt Hasselbeck's touch pass for the score.

  • Nate Burleson runs a very tight diagonal left then horizontal into the flat route that causes confusion and hesitation by the safety and corner and allows Kent to get behind both and be open for the easy reception. It's a level of precision and discipline I'm not used to seeing from Burly.
  • The closest thing to legitimate pressure by Seattle's front four was accomplished on Minnesota's second play from scrimmage. Bernard, able to isolate Anthony Herrera, wins his matchup and forces a hold before breaking into the pocket. For the rest of quarter, Seattle's pass rush was nearly non-existent.
  • Fumble recoveries are luck--not always. The forced fumble and Seattle's subsequent fumble recovery featured that perennial MVP: the team. It's first and 20. Minnesota is set in a four WR,single TE formation. Seattle deploys nickel coverage. At the snap, the Hawks rush three, optioning Brandon Mebane into a short middle zone. Tarvaris Jackson targets Visanthe Shiancoe, a major mistake. Shiancoe is not tightly covered but sits in the middle of three Seahawks zones. After the reception, Hill and Tatupu close in. Hill hitting from the offensive right forces the ball loose. Tatupu, fractions of a second later, hits from the offensive left, forcing the ball out. Mebane strikes from the back, leveling Shiancoe and removing any chance of an offensive recovery. Grant grabs the loose ball, but half a dozen Seahawks could have collapsed on the ball before a Viking was within five yards of the fumble. Over the past two seasons, Seattle's gang tackling has elevated its ability to force fumbles.
  • Next play. Seattle breaks with a three WR, single TE, RB set. Minnesota is in a base 4-3. At the snap, Seattle initially creates nice wedge. This is something Steve Vallos can do; he gets off the snap extremely well. Moments later, Vallos is reeling in his own backfield. Rob Sims and Mike Wahle pull to the second level. Wahle is a revelation as a pull blocker and though Sims lacks Chris Gray's skill, he more than makes up for it with mobility. I believe the skills will come. Morris does something even he didn't often do last season: adjust in the backfield to the free defender. He then makes a nice lateral cut right and shoots through the B gap. He's free. 18 yards downfield, Morris displays another lateral cut, doesn't evade Tyrell Johnson but does put him out of position. The effort nets another three yards. Morris not only looked in top form, he looked like another back: bigger, more agile, reading his blockers with aplomb and making smart decisions in the open field. It's fair to say, yesterday's Morris is untradeable.
  • On the next play, Vallos exploded off the snap, stood his man up and held his block. On the next play, Vallos was tossed on his back by Fred Evans.
  • Coutu kicked the ball three times. The second was serviceable. Decent height, decent length: 2 yards into the end zone. The other two were awful. The first landed at the 9, was so low it only briefly traveled off frame and gave his return team so little time to get downfield that Albert Young made it to the 22 before encountering Seattle's frontline coverage unit.
  • Coutu was identified in a graphic as either a "ROOKE" or a "RDDKE". I'm almost sure it was the latter.
  • Tru had rough quarter. On Minnesota's first play of its second possession his misread his assignment and blew coverage on Bernard Berrian. The play resulted in a 24 yard gain. Trufant runs stride by stride with Berrian, uses a legal pick to chuck Berrian inside and then assumes man off coverage outside right. Brian Russell, perhaps, shares part of the blame, choosing to double the well covered Shiancoe instead of providing inside cover on the much more dangerous Berrian, but with Trufant alone and Berrian his clear assignment, it's hard to excuse the lapse. Tru wasn't beat, he misread the route and misread his own secondary.
  • On the next play, Tru nearly loses his footing after a move by Sidney Rice, but recovers to bury a shoulder into Rice's midsection, truncating Rice's route and putting Tru in good position for a pick.
  • Berrian is a good receiver, freed from Rex Grossman and in his prime. In the same drive, on Minnesota's 4th play, he discarded Kelly Jennings, getting 5 yards of separation and then converted the reception in front of Leroy Hill, nearly scoring. Hill made the wrong read, jumping on a double team to his right and ignoring Berrian, but it wasn't Hill's assignment. No, this was all about Berrian looking like a superstar, embarrassing a hell of a young cover corner.
  • Tru would blow coverage on the next play. Biting inside on a rollout and finding himself in an inexescapable trailing position against fullback Thomas Tapeh.
  • Seattle's third play, third drive: three WR, TE, RB. Minnesota is in a base 4-3. Another nice run by Morris, aided by a good, quasi-legal block by Sean Locklear and a decent pull block by Sims. Sims is much quicker than Gray, but still lacks the skill to engage a blocker on the run. It's coming, and he at least shielded Morris. Morris shows good patience and a nice read, gets skinny at the end for another two yards and again impressed the heck out of me against a top rush defense.
  • Weaver threw a real nice lead block on Duckett's 7 yard run that converted the first.
  • Is Burleson making the jump? On Courtney Taylor's end around, Burleson made a sufficient but crucial block that allowed Taylor to cut inside for an additional ~7 yards. On the next play, Burleson looked downright savvy. Seattle breaks with three WR, single TE, RB. Minnesota in nickel. Burleson is able to isolate Tyrell Johnson, initiates contact but does not push off, and forces a Illegal Contact penalty while simultaneously creating separation and converting the 15 pass. The sequence looked vintage Michael Irvin.
  • I was pleased to see Jennings attempt to jump a route knowing he had deep help by Russell. I was displeased to see Russell run past Rice and turn good coverage into a 9 yard reception.
  • On the next play, Jennings put it all together. Matched against Berrian in man coverage, Jennings used his tremendous speed to outpace burner Berrian and then, recognizing a go route, cut off Berrian midstride placing himself as the only man able to catch the ball, should the ball have been catchable.