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The Tape: Seahawks @ Bills 1st Qtr

One thing I will not accept is this community turning on itself because of one loss. Let's be cool everyone. Football is fun. When it becomes a source of anger and frustration you should take stock of your life. I don't believe in throwing my business at you, but there's so, so many things worse than your team losing one game.


The Objectivist confronts relativity: Courtney Taylor dropped two passes. This first, on Seattle's first offensive play of the game, was entirely accurate. The second, on a drag that had success written all over it, was somewhat behind him, forcing Taylor to break his route an ever so tiny amount. Both should have been caught. Easily. That was bad, sloppy football by Taylor.

Matt Hasselbeck targeted Taylor on one more pass this quarter, and though Tony Boselli did his best to pin the incompletion on Taylor, it was a rushed pass - an unnecessarily rushed pass - at fault. The replay is plain as day: Taylor runs a little past the first down marker, exactly what he's supposed to on 3rd and 10 play, breaks back and before he can turn his head the ball drops before him.

That's what Seattle got out of Beck yesterday. He looked a bit like Peyton Manning with worse weapons: Quick to draw under pressure and clearly not yet up to NFL speed. After a preseason spent almost entirely on the sideline, it's perplexing Mike Holmgren threw Hasselbeck immediately into the fire. If we assume that Holmgren's first 15 plays were scripted, he penned a many-part pratfall for Hasselbeck: Nine passes to just six runs. It might take another two quarters, but Matt Hasselbeck will adjust. And I think that adjustment, plus something in the way of blitz prevention, is the key to solving Seattle's offensive woes. Not some pie in the sky trade.

On the second play of Seattle's second drive, Marcus Stroud vaults into the middle of the line, obliterating an intended sweep right and occupying three Seahawks offensive linemen. Maurice Morris would lose 4 on the play.

Beginners Madden: I used to play Madden a bit. I wasn't good, but I could beat the computer. Occasionally, very occasionally, like thrice, I would play my friend. He never really played much at all. And like most beginners, his two favorite tactics were all-out blitzes and deep passes. Both would just destroy me.

The all out blitz is among the worst and most dated strategies in football. When one looks at the two prevailing defenses of our day, the 3-4 and Tampa 2, we see systems designed to maximize pressure with just four or five blitzers. The all out blitz is easily countered by screens, draws and three step drops. It's simple, the defense, having no formation limitations, can always create a personnel advantage, but the offense, having the initiative, always has the time advantage. Facing a blitz, a barely disguised blitz, audibling into any of the three will not only usually counter the immediate blitz, but prevent a team from further blitzes.

In the first quarter, the Bills blitzed four times, but only twice on third down. One blitz was so obvious, Beck audibled his two running backs up and nearly directly behind the line. Shotgun would have made a lot more sense. That blitz, resulting in an instantaneous sack by Kawika Mitchell, involved a blown block by Maurice Morris. Morris blew three blocks, and on another play, was ridden like a doxy by Mitchell straight into the heart of the Hawks' pocket.

Morris may have lacked execution, but Seattle lacked creativity. Mitchell's sack is an obvious example. The script must have said pass, because facing one of the more apparent blitzes a defense has ever run, Seattle still passed. Scripting plays is really a relic. With defenses now as complicated as any offense, simply running the play on paper, regardless of the game situation, is suicidal. Minimum, Seattle needs to learn how to audible into shotgun.


How to tell a Babin play: He recoils like a spring, shoots off the snap, engages the offensive tackle and then slips to the ground.

Of the many decisions that made no sense, employing Brian Russell in a cover 1 is among the least explicable. Unless Russell is much Kenyan-fast in practice, the coaching staff should know very well that Russell lacks the range to cover sideline to sideline. Lee Evans is one of the better deep receivers in the NFL, and though Kelly Jennings is a precocious cover corner, he shouldn't be matched in single coverage against Evans, especially given the dropoff in talent from Evans to Josh Reed. And I don't think Seattle was intending to single cover Evans on his 32 yard reception. If you squint, you can see Russell chugging up from somewhere afar, making his seasonal showing in coverage.

Most infuriating, of course, is that it wasn't a reception at all. But lest you think the officials again "screwed" Seattle, you might want to rewatch the tape. I counted 19 seconds between the start of the Bills first play, the reception, and their second, an entirely unhurried run for a loss of one. The second play actually involved play action as the split end audibled into the Hb slot pre-snap. No, Holmgren was just slow on the draw, perhaps overvaluing his timeouts, perhaps just indecisive.

The Howard Green/Red Bryant tackle pairing looked pretty damn stout against the run. Something worth noting for short yardage.

One final note of suck before something good: Again, bizarre play calling bites Seattle in the ass. First, let's note that Seattle rushed four on all but one play in this quarter. That doing so, recorded a sack and stifled the Bills offense. That, despite a bogus reception, had forced 3rd and 11 on the Bills 21. And that, even after an epic sack, minus a turnover, would not have effectively moved Buffalo out of field goal range.

With me?

It's 3rd and 11 on the Bills 21. Buffalo breaks 2 WR, TE, SB and in a SG. Seattle, a base 4-3. At the snap, Seattle rushes seven, leaving only Jennings, Marcus Trufant, Deon Grant and, theoretically, Leroy Hill in coverage. Hill wouldn't stay in coverage. The Bills use Holmgren's favorite hobbyhorse to punish Seattle's ridiculous aggression: the draw. When Hill, misguidedly, drops out of a middle zone and instead attacks the line, Seattle has eight men engaged and only three DBs to stop Lynch. Hill screws up, but the play call is inexcusable.

The risk/reward is soundly in the Bills favor. A successful blitz likely leads to a sack or incomplete, leaving Buffalo still in field goal range. With only four men back, and three in a deep zone, the chance of an interception is small. Finally, Seattle had shown creative looks, including Lawrence Jackson at right defensive tackle on Patrick Kerney's sack, to get good pressure with four pass rushers.  Just bad, bad decision making by John Marshall.

Kerney's Sack and LoJack's FTT: Finally, let's talk about that sack. First play of Buffalo's second drive. 1st and 10 from the Bills 29. Buffalo is in a 4 WR, Rb set. Seattle responds with a 4-2 nickel, with Julian Peterson, Jackson, Craig Terrill and Kerney right to left. At the snap, like really at the snap, Jackson missiles into the Bills interior, forcing a no-shit triple team, getting Terrill on right tackle Kirk Chambers and isolating Kerney on Lynch. Now, you might say, that can't be. The Bills must have just screwed up their blocking assignments, but no way man, Jackson is madness. I really think all three Bills interior linemen surrounded Jackson out of pure practiced instinct. When a guy gets off the snap that fast and with that kind of authority, experience teaches get on that man, he's dangerous. Meanwhile, Kerney cleaned up, quickly shedding Lynch, but damn if Jackson's no stat, no mention, FTT wasn't ten times more amazing.