Kentwan Balmer forced his way out of San Francisco because he didn't want to play end in a 3-4. The young man got his way. He now plays strongside end in a 4-3. As a playmaker in his new playmaking position of making plays, Balmer has averaged three tackles a game as a starter.
Balmer forced his way out of San Francisco for various reasons, but I am going to go out on a limb here and say part of it was probably a personality conflict with Mike Singletary. Seattle swapped a sixth for Balmer. The assumption was the Balmer was bad but Balmer could be good.
The corollary of the theory that Seattle's defense has collapsed because of the loss of Red Bryant is that Balmer has been very, very bad as a replacement. That is, unless Seahawks fans believe Bryant is better-than-Haloti Ngata-good, some of the presumed collapse the defense has experienced is that Bryant's backup can not carry Bryant's cleat caddy. Is that the case? What is a cleat caddy? Did I make up a compound noun to avoid writing "jock strap"?
No, I did not.
Apart from a week one sack, the two's statistics are similar. Bryant had 18 tackles in seven starts. That doesn't tell us a whole lot, but maybe a sampling of Balmer's plays can.
We will do a full writeup in the off-season. This isn't that. Through this series, however long it takes, we will look at plays from throughout Balmer's time as the starting strongside end. They will be picked at random and focus on what Balmer himself is doing or not doing adequately, and also his role within the greater scheme. Let's follow the timeline from his first start at strongside end, week nine against the Giants.Ok, so these are not quite picked at random. I am not sure the human brain is capable of random. A better way to put it is this sample is intended to include a variety of plays. Not just plays Balmer "made a play" but plays in which Balmer was important to the outcome.
Let us start after the blowout was on but before the Giants had stopped trying.
1-10-SEA 40 (12:53) 27-B.Jacobs left end to SEA 33 for 7 yards (29-E.Thomas)
Run directed at the left plus a tackle by Earl Thomas implies this was run at the weak side. Let's see.
It's not. Balmer is playing a kind of three tech opposite the offensive right. Aaron Curry is over the tight end. Aligned in a receding diagonal line is Curry, Lofa Tatupu and David Hawthorne.
From the formation, we can see how the run is supposed to be stopped.
Balmer ties up the tackle and guard. He maybe fights through and tackles.
Curry staggers the tight end and maybe fights through and tackles.
Tatupu attacks the fullback ... and tackles.
Hawthorne must tackle.
Notice Clemons is unblocked. No one has cut him. He's free to pursue from the backside. Also, notice the Seahawks defense is breaking down, but though the run is directed at the strong side, the defense is breaking down on the weak side.
What is that break down? It is Craig Terrill smashed into the line and, more importantly, Chris Snee pulling to block Hawthorne.
Tatupu appears to be out of position, but he probably chased the fullback. The fullback is his assignment and so though an argument can be made for freelancing, you don't typically want to chase the ball carrier and avoid the lead blocker. That is how short runs go to the house.
On to Balmer. You can not see Balmer directly but you can see his influence. Balmer and Curry have created that big jumble of Giants behind the line of scrimmage that is creating the long edge. Look at Jacobs. He is running horizontally. The Seahawks have accomplished something. The Seahawks will accomplish nothing. Something good is happening in this play. But the weak side, Hawthorne, Terrill and Clemons, are all out of position, incapable of running Jacobs down from behind and/or blocked.
A split-second later, Jacobs turns the corner.
From Balmer's perspective, he could have generated more push. That might be the difference here between Balmer and Bryant. If this failure had to be pinned on one player, we would probably have to assign it to Tatupu. At some point Tatupu has to and does transition from stuffing the fullback to pursuing Jacobs and an NFL-caliber middle linebacker has to be able to prevent Brandon Jacobs from turning the corner.
But Seattle's defense collapses because the player that has to tackle is blocked out by the right guard. Hawthorne never escapes from Snee, and that leaves Kelly Jennings and Earl Thomas as the last line of defense. We can all see how Jennings rolls. Thomas takes care of business, but it's too late and Jacobs rushes for seven.
Seattle runs a ton of stretch plays and so Seahawks fans should be familiar with how it works and especially how it fails. Once in a blue moon does one of Seattle's guards pull into the second level and dominate a linebacker like Snee is dominating Hawthorne. Snee of course is a Pro Bowl talent, but I would argue the difference is not Snee's ability to block in space. The difference is that Snee is able to move through Seattle's weak side without any substantial delay.
Check out that second photo again.
Jacobs is just receiving the hand off and Snee is already in position to block in the second level.
Stacy Andrews is still stumbling out of the blocks.