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Kam Chancellor, the Good Years

Kam Chancellor should start in week one. He might not. He might have to wait for the inevitable injury to Lawyer Milloy. That is the typical progression in the NFL. Veteran rules the practice field. Veteran suddenly seems inadequate against full-speed competition. Veteran nevertheless retains job until eventual injury. Rookie replaces veteran, provides spark.

Chancellor exhibits solid awareness, and Seattle is better served maximizing the sweet spot where his skills and tools align, and not awaiting incremental improvement to his skills while burning his youth. Eventually, Chancellor will be too slow. If he's lucky, that might be a long time into the future. Right now, he's just fast enough. Like a solid Tim Ruskell pick, Chancellor should hit the ground running, but when other players are growing into their tools, he could be fighting off early decline.

I am totally ok with that.

Tennessee runs a pro-style, West-Coast influenced offense somewhat akin to the one run by Jeremy Bates. That makes the 2009 Chik...whatever an ideal setting to evaluate Chancellor.

1. 1st and 10 at TENN 11 Montario Hardesty rush for 3 yards to the Tenn 14.

Chancellor is 13 yards deep and center. Tennessee motions its left slot receiver right. Chancellor calls out coverage and directs the left corner into man. It's a run left. Chancellor closes, then closes the right cutback lane.

2. 2nd and 7 at TENN 14 Denarius Moore rush for 8 yards to the Tenn 22 out-of-bounds for a 1ST down.

Recorded as a run only because the pass traveled backwards. It's a bubble screen. Chancellor is 12 yards deep and playing opposite the right slot. Crompton drops, targets Moore and Moore receives and slashes behind the right wide out's block and towards the right sideline. Chancellor expertly reads the action. First, he closes slightly with his eyes fixed on Crompton. Then he identifies the play and takes a proper angle of pursuit, positioning himself to break in or out depending on Moore's motion. Finally, he squares, closes and wraps, but not before the first.

3. 1st and 10 at TENN 22 Jonathan Crompton pass incomplete to Denarius Moore.

Botched play. Crompton attempts to audible, there's confusion, the Volunteers shift out of trips left then back into trips left. Crompton targets Moore on a curl, but Moore runs a go. The pass sails out of bounds. Chancellor is over the trips package but does not contribute. No one contributes.

4. 2nd and 10 at TENN 22 Jonathan Crompton pass intercepted by Rashad Carmichael at the VTech 47, returned for 9 yards to the Tenn 44.

Nice, subtle but superior and essential play be Chancellor, but don't let me oversell it.

Tennessee aligns two wide left, two tight ends left/right. Tech is in a neutral 4-3. The outermost receivers, the left wide out and the right tight end, both run go routes. The left tight end runs a deep square in. Chancellor is assigned the left slot receiver, Gerald Jones. Logically, Jones should be running a deep post pattern. Three streaks and a square in is possible, but the square in from the tight end (drawing the safety) and post out of the slot are complementary routes and therefore the more likely combination. This is important, and I'll explain why in a second.

Snap. Everyone retreats into man coverage. Chancellor again shows great awareness, reaction and knowledge for angles. He's not as fast as Jones, but is able to use his cushion to intersect him ~10 yards past the line of scrimmage and achieve inside position. Chancellor dwarfs Jones. If it's a streak, the interception is nothing but a route confusion caused mistake. Instead, I think Chancellor knocks Jones off his route. He's stride for stride, head twisted around searching for the pass, arm extended into but not interfering with Jones. Crompton passes as if he's targeting a post. Carmichael breaks from true center to intercept. Interpret it how you will. Either Jones screwed up his route, Crompton misfired, or, I think most likely, Chancellor bullied Jones off his route and made Crompton's pass to a position look like a pass to the defense.