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2009 Season Retrospective: John Carlson

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John Carlson



Rams at Seahawks

Jones ran off right end. Owens effectively sealed the inside. Burleson and Carlson moved into the second level and both did an excellent job lead blocking. Jones second gear betrayed him, and he didn't slingshot around the end. I think Seattle invests in a speed back this next offseason. Jones can turn the corner, but he doesn't break away when he does. The run went for seven.


That drive was capped by the back-to-back big plays by John Carlson. Carlson flashed wide open and showed his field speed receiving for 38. For the final fifteen, he rapped both arms around the ball in classic Pop Warner fashion and switched to choppy, quick steps.

The next play was all busted coverage and Carlson. The busted coverage doesn't need elaboration. It happens. Carlson reigned in a terrible pass from Matt Hasselbeck. It fluttered and still somehow flew behind Carlson, but Carlson caught and redirected. Kid is some kind of athlete. So graceful. He smoothly spun into a turn upfield and turned on the jets for the score.

Seahawks at 49ers

On the next play, Seattle play-faked and John Carlson found a favorable matchup against Lawson. Execution had failed them and pure talent put them right back in it. Carlson received for 17.


  • Seattle ran a wide receiver screen on its next play. Seattle set in trips left, with Deon Butler, John Carlson and T.J. Houshmandzadeh forming the left, top and right angles of the triangle. This is the kind of designed play I love. Get the ball in a receiver's hands and attack the cornerback's cushion. Housh ran behind a couple determined blocks for six and the first. Say what you will about his long speed, Housh hasn't lost much quickness or agility.
  • The next two plays resulted from that conservative, but efficient screen pass and especially the hurry up offense. Seattle split three wide, with Carlson at left tight end. San Francisco set in its basic 4-2 nickel and sent its back seven in a cover-3 zone defense. Houshmandzadeh was in the slot and Deon Butler and Nate Burleson manned the outside. Carlson and Housh ran ten yards and hooked in, drawing underneath coverage. Butler and Burleson went fifteen yards and hooked out, between the safety, outside linebacker and cornerback zones. It's a classic cover 3 buster, and kudos to Matt Hasselbeck and Burleson for teaming to find the soft spot. Burleson settled in and then faded back on Hasselbeck's perfectly placed floater.

Jaguars at Seahawks

John Carlson is matched against right defensive end Derrick Harvey. That's a tough matchup, but one he must and does win. ... Forsett times his cut poorly and runs up on Carlson's legs. Carlson could have blocked Harvey better, but not much better. He eventually pancakes Harvey.

Seahawks at Cowboys

The Seahawks converted the first when John Carlson cut across the hash marks and found a soft spot in Dallas' zone.

Seahawks at Cardinals

[Forsett] walked almost untouched into the end zone. It was zone blocking at its best. The play turned on three factors: the line call, John Carlson's ability to contain the end and Ray Willis' ability to dominate a linebacker. The line call directed Willis to pull straight ahead and engage and shove the Cardinals inside linebacker towards the right sideline. Carlson took on the end and held him long enough for Force to hit and run through the hole. Justin Griffith hit the hole and punished the defender's overpursuit, blocking the left outside linebacker right and extending the hole. From there Forsett was able to run north-south and behind Willis into the end zone.


Seahawks at 49ers

Manny Lawson embarrassed John Carlson and ended Jones rush to the right before it could start. Lawson staggered Carlson and ran around him and Jones was again faced with 49ers in the backfield before he could touch the ball. Jones ran himself out of bounds for a loss of three.


Seattle can't slow backside pursuit or create rushing lanes, Jones is dragged down after a gain of one. Carlson is thrown to the turf by Parys Haralson.


Houshmanzadeh runs a deep curl into a soft spot in the zone and Hasselbeck hits him for 21. The pass is out of a play fake. Hasselbeck hits Housh and is hit by Harris a split second afterward. Carlson, struggling throughout this drive, functions as a pick, never slowing Harrison but instead putting a body between Harrison and Ray Willis. Harrison comes clean around the edge, unblocked.

Bears at Seahawks

1-10-CHI 45 (12:43) 22-J.Jones right tackle to CHI 40 for 5 yards (53-N.Roach).

Nick Roach beat John Carlson and tackled Jones after five.


15. Dick Stockton credited Lance Briggs with the pressure.

14. The Bears rushed three, none of whom was Briggs.

13. Wallace was not under pressure.

12. John Carlson dropped a pass.

Seahawks at Colts

12. 3-16-IND 16 (1:31) 15-S.Wallace sacked at IND 21 for -5 yards (98-R.Mathis). WATCH HIGHLIGHT

Might as well click the link and not take my word for it, but Seattle stacks two tight ends left and runs max protect. It's a wonder then that Willis is able to shade, shove out and nearly shove down Mathis, but that John Carlson, John Owens and Brandon Frye cannot contain Dwight Freeney. He sends Wallace a skitterin and skatin towards getting sacked by a stunting Brock and a recovering Mathis. Willis doesn't own his man, but he damn nearly does.

Jaguars at Seahawks

For one snap, Schmitt was again an HB. John Carlson was at left HB and Schmitt at right HB and the two ran symmetrical patterns. Both were to chip the outside linebacker and then release into a quick out into the flat. Schmitt chipped his man, but Carlson whiffed and Clint Ingram damn near killed Hasselbeck before he could shotput it away.

49ers at Seahawks

Parys Haralson ripped through John Carlson and Jones went wider, and wider until he stepped out for a loss of three.


Moving out the middle linemen, be it nose, defensive tackles or 3-4 ends, is a harbinger of a building run game. Justin Forsett missed the hole, but it was a beauty. Behind Seattle's center three a crease ripped open that would have harbored the rusher deep into the 49ers second level. Forsett cut left and into Manny Lawson for a loss of three. John Carlson was discarded in routine fashion.

Outlook: David Chase destroyed Tony Soprano before he offed him. Walter White went from mild-mannered father caught in a Hitchcockian ordeal of his own making to sociopath in one scene. When pressure to explain, connect and wrap up the mystery of Lost mounted, Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse made the island the star, and a story about complex and rich characters was abandoned and replaced with a melodramatic farce. The Mob, meth, the Island were but hooks for a story about people. Between the tits, MacGuyver science and mysticism, was basic human drama. The same kind that once was written with gods. The same kind that once was written with kings. The same kind that speaks to humans whatever the angle, be it organized crime, war or vampires.

You don't kill your characters. You don't exploit your characters. You don't enslave them to the premise and manipulate them towards satisfying the gimmick.

Through coaching historic busts Michael Vick and JaMarcus Russell, Greg Knapp earned a reputation as an offensive coordinator that tailored his scheme to his talent. Matt Hasselbeck and John Carlson were not his players, but he could write lines for them. In some ways he did, but in many, maybe most, he didn't.

I could encapsulate Carlson's season in a sentence: John Carlson continued his smooth receiving but was exposed as a blocker. That shouldn't surprise. Carlson struggled as a blocker at Notre Dame. He is young, sort of, and I somewhat understand challenging him and seeing if he can grow, but Carlson blocked and blocked and blocked and never stopped blocking though he failed and failed and failed. At some point, Knapp had to realize he was forcing one of his best offensive talents into duties that minimized his value.

Two things should change Carlson's fate and hopefully put him back on the path to stardom: The hiring of Jeremy Bates and the drafting of Russell Okung. Bates should move Carlson around and position him off and behind the line, using him less as an extra tackle and more like a hybrid wide receiver. That should do wonders towards the cause of playing Carlson to his abilities and not crushing him under the yoke of system. Drafting Okung frees Bates to move Carlson off the line and play him to his abilities. In Knapp's defense, Seattle was so poor at left tackle, an assist blocker was sometimes necessary. Sometimes.

Carlson should up his yardage and regain the value per catch he flashed in 2008. He isn't too far from a finished product. The player John Carlson already is, despite his somewhat anemic blocking, is still capable of being a top-ten tight end for seasons to come.

XFINITY from Comcast is a proud supporter of Field Gulls. You’ll get your Seahawks games as a part of over 120 NFL games XFINITY provides in HD, as well as On Demand game recaps from every NFL game every week, faster Internet speeds, and stunning HD. With XFINITY and NFL RedZone, you get every touchdown from every game every Sunday afternoon! Call 1-800-XFINITY or visit