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2009 Season Retrospective: Brandon Mebane

Quick note: Internet is down at the hostel I am staying at, and so the rest of the training camp notes may have to wait until later today. Thanks.

Brandon Mebane

Highlights

Bears at Seahawks

With the early lead, the Seahawks young defense got after it. Middle pressure by Brandon Mebane and edge pressure by Darryl Tapp forced Jay Cutler into a bad-idea lob that David Hawthorne caught for an interception.

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The white indicates a delay. Redding adjusted and ran to the ball carrier, but it was clear he was designed to stunt and run a path very similar to the one he actually ran. Brandon Mebane ran clear into the backfield untouched. That really gummed up everything the Bears were trying to do as the pulling left guard had to redirect and meet Mebane in the backfield. Bryant was single-blocked by Olin Kreutz. That was a big ol' handful of not happening as Bryant tore through him and right to Forte. Call it a loss of one and a half.

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32. Brandon Mebane was doubled off the line but Colin Cole held his ground and tackled Matt Forte after one yard on second and two.

Jaguars at Seahawks

The good was Brandon Mebane. After going Zapruder Film on the replay, I am pretty sure Mebane stripped Garrard a split second before Lawrence Jackson. Jackson and Reed were single blocked on the outside and Cory Redding dropped into cover. Mebane navigated a triple team before twisting close enough to Garrard to drop a meat hook on the ball. Before he could slap it away, his indomitable bull rush freed Reed by briefly forcing a quadruple team. Reed disengaged from Tra Thomas and ran across the line. He shed the idle right guard, Uche Nwaneri, before breaking to scoop the ball and run 79 yards for the touchdown.

On second thought, maybe Reed had the good and Mebane the great.

Seahawks at Cowboys

Seattle started the drive with Cory Redding at left defensive tackle. Redding was blown back by a double team, but single-blocked Brandon Mebane sliced behind the blockers bulldozing Redding to wrap Marion Barber after three. Before Mebane's saving tackle, this play was eerily reminiscent of Seattle's struggles in San Francisco.

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Having failed by blitzing, Seattle attempted the opposite on the next play. It dropped eight into coverage. It dropped eight out of a 4-2, meaning the eighth man was none other than Brandon Mebane. As luck would have it, Mebane matched against Jason Witten. Witten worked a double move, maybe built in, maybe a savvy improvisation. Mebane didn't bite though. When Witten faked curl, Mebane didn't close, but broke back and positioned himself to tackle. That saved an otherwise sure defensive holding penalty. Witten shuffle-stepped and sprinted past the line but never did fully shake Mebane. Romo targeted him in quadruple coverage and Witten leapt high but dropped it. Perhaps the prospect of being sandwiched between a linebacker, two defensive backs and Brandon Mebane just wasn't worth the first.

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Brandon Mebane pressured up the middle and Leroy Hill was in position and aware of the pass on a high floater that overshot Martellus Bennett.

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David Hawthorne blitzed into Mebane but moved with such force that he freed himself and Mebane from his blocker. Mebane delivered a finishing hit on Tony Romo, but Hawthorne tore through for the hit and strip. Hawthorne might be the best in-line blitzer on this roster - better even than Leroy Hill.

Lions at Seahawks

Seattle had given itself a big thumbs up to the eye socket. Brandon Mebane had blown up their first run attempt in the backfield. Curry had hit Stafford twice and Babineaux had sacked him for a loss of ten. It had forced three third and longs and allowed two conversions - the unconverted third picked up on fourth down. It attacked and retreated for 14 plays, 16 unofficial, and was spared by dumb luck.

In the jubilant arms of fortune, it threw the ball right back to Detroit.

Seahawks at Cardinals

My notes on Mebane are mostly positive. He ran through a pulling blocker and tackled Beanie Wells for a loss of four at the start of the Cardinals second drive.

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I should count how often Colin Cole is shoved three or more yards back from the line of scrimmage. Brandon Mebane subbed out for the fourth play of the Cardinals second drive. Cole was shoved back three yards and through the resulting hole, Tim Hightower rushed almost untouched for eight. Hightower gets eight. Adrian Peterson batters his way to a touchdown.

Seahawks at Texans

8. Again [Aaron Curry is] caught idle at the snap, botches the blitz entirely, so that he never impacts but does remove himself from the play, and is saved when Brandon Mebane tears through the interior and forces an incomplete pass.

Lowlights

Bears at Seahawks

The only other notable I wanted to mention is Brandon Mebane. Mebane wasn't at full strength last Sunday. Sure, he was good, but I also saw Mebane on the ground or blown back a lot more than I am used to. With his calf right, Mebane should be able to make a huge impact this Sunday. Seattle needs him more than ever.

Cardinals at Seahawks

That puts an end on a guard and three on a guard. Mebane is good, but so is Deuce Lutui. Lutui wins this round.

Seahawks at Cardinals

Bane does not get off blocks exceptionally well and his pass rush arsenal isn't developed. He established himself in this league as the type of punishing bull rusher that two blockers struggled to stop.

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As a three, a popular way of combating Mebane's explosiveness and exceptional leverage is to fade and draw his weight from over his feet. He gets ahead of himself, so to speak, and can be blocked whence unbalanced.

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He then played nose twice in a three man rush and performed ably, but wasn't able to separate. That's the problem for Brandon: He is great off the snap, but he does not consistently separate from blockers. As a one tech, Mebane was able to collapse the pocket into the quarterback and bull rush into sacks. As a three tech, he needs to be able to fight off a single block and show quickness to the ball carrier. That might not be within Mebane's ability.

Outlook: It was an awesome season for Brandon. It was also a down season for Brandon. He missed action with a calf injury. He was more disruptive but less valuable as a three-tech than he was a one-tech.

There is a lot to discuss. Mebane himself is probably pretty solid to stick at a high level. What matters now is how Pete Carroll plays him. And so, in many respects, I will save my projection of Brandon Mebane until next week, when I begin to break down the Pete Carroll defense*. We know he has put on some weight. Will this new scheme be able to further unlock Bane's potential, or will it once again weaken him for the sake of Colin Cole?

*I also am not done with Bates offense either. Analysis of both schemes will continue through the preseason.