When people talk about the success of the Seahawks defense this year names like Earl Thomas, Richard Sherman, Kam Chancellor and Michael Bennett are the ones that are tossed around the most often. All of these players are playing at a Pro Bowl level, but there are a lot of very important cogs in this machine that don’t get much attention. One of those cogs is Brandon Mebane.
At age 28 Brandon Mebane is the old man of this defense and the only player who played under Mike Holmgren. He has always been a fairly solid, durable (he has missed five of a possible 108 games in his career) and consistent starter. However, perception surrounding Mebane has changed over the years.
Mebane was drafted as a run-stuffing defensive tackle in the third round in 2007. Early on Seahawks fans heard reports that Mebane was showing more quickness and pass rushing ability than expected, but that didn’t really manifest itself in his rookie season where he finished with only two sacks. The next year Mebane would break out with 5.5 sacks and begin to look like an all around star. However, since 2008 Mebane has a total of 5.5 sacks in five seasons. His role has changed back to what was initially expected. He is now primarily a run stopper.
The problem with that analysis is that sacks aren’t the be all and end all of pass rushing. A sack is the ideal result of a pass rush but it is a fairly rare event. What’s more important than getting the occasional sack is getting consistent pressure to disrupt quarterbacks. This is an area where Mebane has looked a bit better this year. Here is what Mebane has done pressuring quarterbacks the last three years according to PFF:
Pass Rushing Snaps
Although Mebane has not taken any quarterbacks to the ground, he has created much more pressure than he has in recent years despite fewer snaps. He is hurrying throws on almost 10% of his pass rush snaps which is a very solid rate.
Some of this likely has to do with the better pass rush team wide. A powerful and varied pass rush like the one the Seahawks possess can create opportunities for everyone involved. For instance, if Mebane and Michael Bennett line up next to each other inside then Mebane will not attract the double team because Bennett is more dangerous.
We shouldn’t be entirely dismissive of Mebane’s gains though. In obvious passing situations the Seahawks sometimes go with a Clemons-McDonald-Bennett-Avril line so when Mebane is rushing he is often doing so alongside Tony McDaniel on first and second down. It’s unfair to give him no credit because his teammates have also been good.
At the end of the day Brandon Mebane is still primarily a guy whose job is to stop the run. If he can get at the quarterback a little bit that’s just gravy. It appears that the Seahawks are enjoying a little bit of that gravy this year as Mebane is giving them more push up the middle than they’ve seen in recent seasons. Brandon Mebane is never going to be the star of this defense but if he continues to play this good of an all-around game (Pro Football Focus grades him as the 8th best DT in the league this year) then he will quietly be one of the most important pieces on this team.
In what has somewhat accidentally become a weekly series, I have been examining free agent targets of interest for the Seahawks in positional groupings where I think they may have a need. Today I’m taking a look at defensive tackles, a position where Brandon Mebane remains a solid starter but there is very little on the roster outside of #92. With Alan Branch a free agent, the only other DT’s are Clinton Mcdonald and Jaye Howard. Mcdonald has been merely a rotational player so far and Howard has yet to really see any action as a Seahawk. Of course re-signing Branch remains an option but I think the Seahawks both should and will go in another direction. Branch was very effective as a run stopper in 2011, but wasn’t quite as good in 2012 and offers very little in the way of pass rushing. While the way Seattle’s line is constructed does not maximize the pass rush I think they can ill afford having another starter, other than Red Bryant, who does little in the way of threatening the quarterback. That is especially true given the injury to Chris Clemons. So here I have presented some DT free agent options, with a focus on those that can offer a pass rushing dimension that the interior of Seattle’s defensive line has been missing of late:
Henry Melton: Melton is one of the top free agents available at any position but Seattle has some money to spend and he is a marquee player at a position of need. Over the last two years with the Bears, Melton has 13 sacks, including 6 last year. That total is not astounding but it is very impressive for a DT. The Seahawks haven’t had that kind of interior pass rush since Rocky Bernard was in his prime. Melton is undersized at 6-3 280 and as such there are concerns that he won’t hold out against the run but he did managed 9 tackles for a loss last year, good for 5th in the NFL among defensive tackles. Clearly, Melton is an effective penetrator of the line of scrimmage and although he may have to be removed for truly jumbo goal line sets that is a small price to pay for his abilities to disrupt opposing offenses. Melton turns 27 this year so age is not a major concern. That being said, his price will be high, high enough that his contract will probably end up being an overpay to some degree. Even if that’s so, I wouldn’t mind overpaying for a player this young, with these skills and at a position of need.
Randy Starks: This former Dolphin and one time Pro Bowler will turn 30 this year but seems to have a fair amount left in the tank and some positional flexibility to boot. Even though Starks stands at a sturdy 6-3 312 lbs he still has the quickness to get to the quarterback as demonstrated by his 9 sacks over the last two years (4.5 each year) and career high of 7 sacks in 2009. Beyond sacks alone, Starks had 4 pass deflections (11th in the league among DT’s) and 8 QB hits (14th) showing a consistent ability to be a factor defending against the pass. He has been durable and consistent playing both as a 4-3 DT and a 3-4 DE and would clearly be an upgrade to Seattle’s defensive line. For me the only hang ups are age and expense, which, to be fair, are two pretty big hang ups. It’s always risky signing free agents in their late 20’s/early 30’s but Seattle is a good enough team to consider these type of deals for the first time since 2007. Starks likely will not be a fantastic value on the back side of his free agent deal, but by then Seattle may have gotten what they needed from Starks in the way of playoff success. Although the Seahawks are in a win-now mode there is no need to be reckless, Starks would be an upgrade and a good fit but he isn’t a franchise-changing star and if the market gets too crazy there’s no harm in backing out of the bidding. Still, an interesting name to consider.
Desmond Bryant: Not exactly a household name, this Harvard man is not going unnoticed by NFL talent evaluators. To go along with 3 sacks in 8 starts in 2012 Bryant had 12 QB hits, a total that tied him for 7th best among NFL defensive tackles. Standing at 6-5 290 Bryant has the length to disrupt passing lanes, even if he’s no J.J Swatt. Turning 28 this year, Bryant has 10.5 career sacks but 8 of them have come in the last 2 years when he has had the opportunity to start more (18 starts in that period). The fact he was something of a part-time player on such a poor defense raises some red flags but with well compensated tackles Tommy Kelly and Richard Seymour above him it was hard for Bryant to get the playing time he deserved. Bryant is not exceptionally young but he is talented and athletic (4.92 40 yard dash at the Combine). He has flashed enough to potential to be worthy of a starting gig and the Seahawks might have a starting gig open. If the market remains within reason, Bryant might be an interesting high upside option.
Richard Seymour: Speaking of Oakland defensive tackles, another free agent possibility is the prolific and versatile Richard Seymour. There are a lot of numbers you could throw around about the 7 time Pro Bowler Richard Seymour but one stands out. 34. That’s how old Seymour will be in September. While Seattle is in a position to make short-term additions the commitment to Seymour would have to be on a very short term ie. 1 to 2 years, to make any sense. The 6-6 310 DT is at an age where his game and/or health can fall apart at any moment. He was only able to start 8 games last year and while he had 3 sacks in those contests and was on pace for a solid year who know how he’ll rebound from his hamstring injury. I would be conflicted about seeing Seattle sign Seymour because he is so accomplished and may still have something yet to offer, but at the same time it seems equally likely there’s nothing left in the tank. Old players with injury concerns are often treated harshly by the free agent market and there may be some legitimate value shopping to be had here, but the idea of penciling in Seymour as a starter in 2013 would make me nervous considering the kind of aspirations the Seahawks have this year.
Terrance Knighton: This Jaguars defensive tackle, affectionately known as Pot Roast, is coming off a down year where he lost his starting job but may rebound with a change of scenery. He really seemed to be emerging as a sophomore in 2010 when he had 4 sacks and 4 PD’s but was never able to replicate those numbers. Despite being relegated to the status of a rotational tackle and only starting 5 games Knighton managed 2 sacks and 2 forced fumbles along with 5 tackles for loss and 5 quarterback hits. The 6-2 295 Knighton is an all-around defensive tackle with a similar skillset to Brandon Mebane when he is playing at his best. Unfortunately the Jaguars were unable to get Knighton’s best all the time. At only 27 Knighton may well have his best days ahead of him and while one would have to be reticent to simply hand him a job given his off year in 2012, he could be a solid starter for somebody. Somebody could even be the Seahawks. That idea makes me a tad nervous but less nervous than signing Seymour. Medium-risk, medium reward type option, not the sexiest but hard to expect that with a name like Pot Roast.
These are only some of the defensive tackle possibilities out there but in my view they are the best ones and the best fits for Seattle. I would be surprised and somewhat disappointed to see a return from Alan Branch because I think that Pete Carroll’s defense needs more interior pressure to take its game to the next level. Whether it is addressed through free agency or the draft, Seattle needs DT’s because they have only 3 on the roster, only one of whom is starter quality. Melton is an obvious favorite of mine here, but if Seattle isn’t willing to spend that kind of money guys like Bryant or Knighton could be intriguing choices.
Seattle approaches their week 17 game with the Rams on Sunday with a chance to go 11-5, their best record since their magical run to the Super Bowl in 2005. The Seahawks are peaking at the right time coming off four straight wins, three of the blowout variety. The Rams are a better team than they are given credit for with a 7-7-1 record, including 4-0-1 within the NFC West. In order to preserve a perfect home record (with an asterisk) the Seahawks need to take care of business against the plucky Rams. Without further ado, here’s 2012’s last (regular season) edition of “Matchups of the Game”.
Matchup #1: Russell Wilson vs. The Rams Secondary
Russell Wilson comes into this game with 25 touchdowns through the air and needs two more to break Peyton Manning’s rookie record of 26. Given all Russell has done this year I’d like to see him get an individual accolade like that. The problem is that the Ram’s pass defense, especially in the Red Zone, can be very stingy. The Rams have only allowed 15 passing touchdowns all year while nabbing 17 interceptions. With the power of the 12th man and the way this offense has been rolling 2 touchdowns for Wilson has to be considered within reach but it’s far from a slam dunk. Russell doesn’t seem like a me-first selfish guy but I’m sure this record will cross his mind once or twice during the game. Let’s hope he gets it sealed away early on.
Matchup #2: Marshawn Lynch vs. James Laurinitis
I always like to see two of the best in the business go head-to-head and this is a classic example of one of those cases. Lynch is having an incredible season with career highs in carries, yards, and, most impressively, yards per carry (5.0 compared to a previous career high of 4.2). He has been everything one could reasonably expect and more as the battering ram that makes this Seahawks offense go. Lynch is a mortal lock to reach 1,500 yards for the season in this game (he needs 10 yards) a milestone that is rarer and rarer as most teams are no longer using pure feature backs. Laurinitis is a tackling machine who has 115 solo tackles this year which leads the league by a solid margin. He is tough as nails, smart and instinctive and just about everything you could ask for in a MLB. If Lynch is the heart and soul of the Seahawks offense then Laurinitis is the heart and soul of the Rams defense. It has the makings of an epic stalemate but in reality I just don’t see anyone stopping Beast Mode right now.
Matchup #3: Brandon Mebane vs. Robert Turner
Mebane was very explosive early in the year and really hasn’t showed as much of late. A big game going into the playoffs might get Mebane going and when he is going the Seattle defense is even more dynamic. Mebane has been a jack of all trades this year with a respectable 3 sacks and 5 quarterback hits rushing the passer as well as 4 tackles for loss and a 1.07 tackle factor suggesting quality run-stopping production. Today he has an opportunity to expand on those numbers against journeyman G Robert Turner. After spending 5 years on the Jets with only 2 starts to his credit Turner has become a full time starter for the first time this year with the Rams. A former undrafted free agent, Turner has largely stuck around due to his versatility and ability to play center. There just aren’t a lot of guys who go undrafted, sit on the bench for 5 years, and become studs, so my guess is Turner is the sort of guy Mebane can handle. If he is, it could be a field day for the Seahawk defense with Mebane causing serious disruptions to both the Rams running game and passing game.
Seattle has locked up their playoff berth and likely their seeding as well, barring a miracle win by Arizona against the 49ers. It would be easy to say that they don’t have a lot to play for in this game. I don’t think this is the case. Firstly, you don’t want to lose to a divisional opponent twice in one year. Secondly, I think remaining unbeaten at home is meaningful even if they are unlikely to play a home game from here on out. Lastly, the Seahawks have some serious momentum going at the moment that should not be jeopardized going into the playoffs. For these reasons I think the Seahawks will be motivated and effective on Sunday and end the season with a win, or more precisely, five wins.
One of my biggest pet peeves in life, and there are many, is sports clichés. Most of them tend to be based on fragments of facts that may or may not be true and they are repeated over and over to the point that they merely fill space as opposed to offering any kind of insight. I am not making this point because I am on the verge of a ranting article about some of the things that sports commentator say that drive me crazy. Someday I may write that article. In fact, someday I probably will. What compels me to write this piece today is the fact I have actually found a cliché worth contemplating and investigating. You often hear about strength up the middle in every sport from football to hockey to baseball. I think the importance of strength up the middle or building from the inside out varies from sport to sport, but the more I thought about it the more I think it applies to the Seahawks this year. “Up the Middle” positions on defense, DT, MLB and S, factor on every play either by attacking the pocket or by ranging sideline to sideline and without them a defense can be worn down by bruising inside runs as well as TE seam routes. On Offense these up the middle men are the center, the quarterback, and the backfield. The 2012 Seahawks blueprint calls a power running game, efficient passing and stuffing the run on defense to make offenses one-dimensional. As such I thought I’d evaluate the Seahawks up the middle talent to see if they have the personnel for this strategy, starting with the offense.
Center- Max Unger
When Unger started all 16 games as a rookie in 2009 at right guard, reviews were mixed. It is always impressive to see a rookie come in and establish himself as a starter immediately but Unger seemed to lack strength and looked over matched in many games. Unger missed all of 2010 save one game but came back strong last year. Returned to his natural center position Unger looked beyond competent and seemed to be a totally new player. This off season the Seahawks rewarded him with a multi-year extension and clearly see him as a core player. So do I. If the Seahawks are going to roll with an undersized quarterback they will need an interior line that can keep passing lanes open. Unger can do that and is someone who the fans should be comfortable with at center for years to come.
Quarterback- Russell Wilson
Most things I’ve said about Wilson in the past have raised the ire of people around here so I’ll keep it short. Wilson is talented and athletic and seems to have rare poise for a rookie QB. He may be the “quarterback of the future” this franchise so desperately needs. He may not be. It’s too early to make a definitive judgment either way. Of all the players I will discuss in this article Wilson is the biggest question mark, through no fault of his own. Time will tell.
In today’s passing heavy NFL the lead-blocking fullback is something of a dinosaur. However, like many Seahawks fans that enjoyed Mack Strong for so many years, I continue to live in the past. I love the old-school I-Formation power runs and Robinson is one of the best at leading the way. Robinson was a Pro Bowler last year and appears to be a leader on this team despite the fact he only ran for 7 yards last year. He’s one of those players whose value is pretty difficult to quantify but I’m pretty sure Marshawn Lynch would tell you that this guy is plenty valuable. That’s not even mentioning special teams contributions. My one complaint about Robinson’s game is that the Seahawks don’t use enough trick plays involving his passing ability. Hard to blame Robinson for that though.
Running Back- Marshawn Lynch
What is there to say that hasn’t been said? Lynch is everything you want in a power back and more. When running backs are said to “punish” defenses it is always a hyperbole unless it is being said about Lynch. There is no need to gush further except to say that Lynch fits this team perfectly and there is nothing to worry about at the RB position.
The offense is pretty set up the middle, but what about the defensive unit that has been so stellar so far?
Defensive Tackle- Brandon Mebane
Mebane is the sort of player you plug in your lineup and forget about. After a sophomore season that saw him rack up 5.5 sacks it looked like Mebane was on the way up as a pass rushing tackle but that never really ended up being his niche. Instead Mebane has settled in as an all-around DT who is more of a pocket collapser than a pass rusher per se. Mebane is unlikely to put up big numbers individually but he can help other defensive lineman by wreaking havoc on the other side of the line of scrimmage both in run support and in terms of pushing the pocket. At 27, the recently re-signed Mebane has a lot to offer the Seahawks over the next few years.
Defensive Tackle- Alan Branch
Impending free agent Alan Branch is possibly the most underrated player on the Seahawks defense. Branch is a dominant run-stuffer and if the Seahawks fail to resign him this off season they may see their success against the run suffer into the future. Branch registered 3 sacks last year but that’s not his job. The 6-6 324 pound defensive tackle is built to stop the run and there are very few people who can do it as well as him. At 27 he has good years ahead if the Seahawks should choose to resign him.
Middle Linebacker- Bobby Wagner
The 2012 second round pick out of Utah State has looked the part of a starting MLB in the NFL so far. He isn’t huge but he is fast and hasn’t made many rookie mistakes just yet. Much like Russell Wilson he has not played enough for us to have a complete read on him but I’m inclined to believe the kid can play until proven otherwise. The last time the Seahawks drafted a 2nd round MLB who started right away that seemed to go alright….Linebacker is a position where rookies tend to be able to contribute and we are seeing that from Wagner so far.
Strong Safety- Kam Chancellor
Full disclosure: Kam Chancellor is my favourie Seahawk. The way he brutalized the Cowboys receiving core last week was a sight to behold. Chancellor combines vicious, violent and borderline illegal hits with responsible coverage that sees him get burned deep far less than one would think for a player his size whose straight line speed doesn’t compete with top receivers in this league. Chancellor went to the Pro Bowl last year and could end up becoming a perennial Pro Bowler if he keeps up his play. Even if he doesn’t he will be a rock solid contributor who is an essential partner in possibly the best safety tandem in the NFL.
Free Safety- Earl Thomas
Not only is Thomas a Pro Bowler but he might well be the best player on the Seahawks. Thomas’s expansive range covers for the mistakes of an aggressive secondary and prevents opposing offenses from beating the Seahawks deep. Thomas is also a strong tackler who throws the occasional highlight reel hit in for variety. I would be surprised to see him reach the Pro Bowl any less than five times in his career. At 23 he is already a franchise cornerstone, one of very few safeties who can say that. There is no player on this list I am more confident in my praise of than Mr. Thomas. He has started 34 games in a row and Seahawks fans should hope that he can draw that streak out to Cal Ripken-esque proportions.
Overall it appears that if strength up the middle is important to success in the NFL then the Seahawks are in good shape, not only now but into the future. The oldest player on this list is Michael Robinson at 29 and Alan Branch is the only one with a contract expiring soon. As such, it appears that the literal core of the Seahawks is both stable and promising. Unfortunately there are premium positions that are ignored by this analysis: OT, DE, CB (to be fair there are very few complaints here) and WR, but for a physical run-first team it is encouraging to know that these Seahawks can enforce its will between the hash marks.
Over the past couple weeks, I’ve systematically looked over the entire roster. Position by position, from pro-bowlers to those on the practice squad. The goal was to evaluate who is here, and try and get a better feel for what the Seahawks have and … [visit site to read more]
Today is the day where almost everyone in America celebrates an ancient feast by watching football and gorging themselves until they lapse into a tryptophan induced coma, only to wake up later for pie and more football. So today, once you’ve reached that point where you’re so stuffed it hurts to move, please take a moment and remember that there is a lot to be thankful for as a Seahawks fan.
Here’s my top 10 reasons for Seahawks fans to be thankful on this Thanksgiving:
10. Richard Sherman, Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor – It’s been since 2007 since the Seahawks have had a corner who could single handedly shut down one of the league’s top receivers. Making it even more remarkable is that Sherman wasn’t even supposed to be playing at this point. His development is clearly well ahead of schedule. Add to that the fact that the Seahawks have the best duo of safeties in the league, and that they’re both in just their second year. These three kids will only get better over the next few seasons.
9. Beast Mode – Marshawn Lynch might not have been able break out his beast mode persona very often this year, but when he does it’s still a thing of beauty. … [visit site to read more]
Something to chew on during the game.
Most people don’t associate the 2010 Seahawks with being a good defensive team, but at the beginning of the year they really were just that. After 6 weeks, the Seahawks help the #2 rush defense, and was a top … [visit site to read more]
This is one of the weekly features you’ll be seeing this season, and is simply my take the scouting reports for each team. This week’s 5 reasons is a little light on substance since we really don’t know what to expect from either team. Seattle is so … [visit site to read more]
Tags: Brandon Mebane, Chris Clemons, David Hawthorne, football, Frank Gore, James Carpenter, John Moffitt, Marshawn Lynch, nfl, Previews, Raheem Brock, Red Bryant, robert gallery, Russell Okung, Seahawks, Sydney Rice
I was recently skimming Seahawks … [visit site to read more]
Fortune may have smiled upon the Seahawks when it comes to this year’s NFL Draft. This particular draft class is deep with defensive linemen, and that is an area the Seahawks must address throughout this draft. Two, or perhaps even three, of the team’s selections in this draft should target this area. I believe the Seahawks should use their first round pick on a defensive tackle.
The Seahawks’ defensive line was riddled with injuries again last season. Starting defensive tackles Brandon Mebane and Colin Cole both missed several games due to injury, and starting right defensive end Red Bryant was put on IR and missed the final eleven games of the season (including the playoffs). Depth on the line was so lacking that Aaron Curry took several snaps at defensive tackle during games at the end of the regular season. That cannot and should not happen again.
Cole and Bryant should be starters next season along with defensive end Chris Clemons, who played better than anyone could have expected last season. The wildcard in this situation is Mebane, who will potentially be a free agent once a new collective bargaining agreement is reached. Mebane will draw interest from other teams, but he has had injury issues that might damper it some. He has more value to the Seahawks than he would to any other team, so the front office should be able to re-sign him. If it still exists, a transition tag would be a possibility.
Assuming those four will be the starting unit, there is virtually no depth behind them. Kentwan Balmer can ably rotate in at all four spots, but that’s about it. Raheem Brock played well down the stretch and had a very nice comeback season, but he is a free agent and will seek more money than the team could or should pay him. Junior Siavii and Craig Terrill are little more than warm bodies, although Terrill does stand out on special teams. If both are on the team next season, it means the front office failed to address the depth issue.
In my last post, I said it was almost fortunate that the Seahawks were drafting 25th instead of eighth if their intention is to draft an offensive lineman in the first round. If their intention is to draft a defensive lineman, as I think it should be, then it definitely is fortunate. If the Seahawks were drafting eighth and took a defensive lineman, then Mebane would almost certainly not return because of the money that would have to be invested in that pick. By drafting 25th, they can select a defensive lineman and still afford to sign Mebane. The draftee will see significant playing time, yet not be burdened with too many responsibilities or expectations.
I feel strongly that if the team selects a DL at 25, then it should be a tackle. Defensive ends have a much higher likelihood of being a bust. If the highest graded lineman available is an end, they probably should take him, but I won’t be thrilled about it. The memory of the absolute disaster that was Lawrence Jackson still resonates in my mind.
Last weekend, it appeared as if the Seahawks were finally bitten by the dreaded injury bug. Aaron Curry, Marcus Trufant, Chris Clemons, and Brandon Mebane were all injured, which allowed the Chargers to march up and down the field in the second half. Mike Williams injured his shoulder, but was eventually able to return.
News regarding the Seahawks changes almost daily, but none of the aforementioned players should miss any significant time.
Aaron Curry, who suffered a hamstring injury, has practiced this week and is expected to play on Sunday.
Brandon Mebane has been limited with a calf injury, but it doesn’t appear to be anything too serious. He may be limited on Sunday, but the injury shouldn’t prevent him from playing. If Mebane is unable to play, expect to see Craig Terrill active and on the field Sunday.
Marcus Trufant hurt his ankle against the Chargers and is the most questionable of the group. He said he felt okay following last Sunday’s game, but has been limited in practice all week. His absence obviously affected Seattle’s defense last week. According to several reports, Trufant will be a game-time decision on Sunday.
Mike Williams and Chris Clemons both suffered minor injuries and should be okay to play. Both players practiced this week and should be able to contribute in St. Louis.
Williams was wearing a no-contact jersey earlier in the week, but he shouldn’t be limited against the Rams. Everything I’ve read seems to confirm he’ll be ready on Sunday. Pete Carroll did tell reporters that newly acquired wide receiver Brandon Stokley will play against the Rams, however, so Williams’ playing time could be reduced.
If the Seahawks can find a way to get out of St. Louis injury-free and victorious, the team will head into their bye week in relatively good shape.
Running back Ryan Mathews will not play against the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday. That should be good news, unless you selected him early in your fantasy football draft this year.
Even if Mathews did play, I’d have to believe he would have a hard time finding room to run through Seattle’s massive defense. The front four on the defensive line – Red Bryant, Brandon Mebane, Colin Cole, and Chris Clemons – combine to weigh over half a ton and are predictably stout against the run.
With Mathews shelved for Sunday’s game, the San Diego Chargers will give the football to Mike Tolbert, a 5-foot-9, 243-pound wrecking ball. This season, Tolbert has carried the ball 18 times for 108 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
Tolbert might not be as talented or publicized as Mathews, but he provides a different version of smash-mouth football that could challenge Seattle’s massive front.
“They have to go at my legs cause I’m trying to decapitate anybody that’s out there,” Tolbert told the San Diego Union-Tribune earlier this week. “I’m not trying to run around anybody cause I get tired like that.”
As hybrid running back built like a fullback, Tolbert won’t shy away from contact and runs like a battering ram. The former undrafted player from Coastal Carolina could present some challenges to Seattle’s defense this weekend.
The Seahawks, however, should be up to the challenge. Through two games, Seattle is only allowing opponents to rush for 57 yards per game and 2.0 yards per carry.
Tolbert may run like a battering ram, but the Chargers will probably have to rely on the arm of Philip Rivers if they’re going to win at Qwest Field on Sunday.
Tags: Brandon Mebane, Chris Clemons, Coastal Carolina, Colin Cole, defense, football, injury, Mike Tolbert, nfl, Philip Rivers, Red Bryant, Running Back, Ryan Mathews, San Diego Chargers, Seahawks, Seattle Seahawks
Albert Haynesworth is a selfish player; he wants to make plays on the football field.
Haynesworth doesn’t want to take on opposing blockers so someone else can claim the glory; he wants to be the playmaker and focal point of the defensive line.
Unfortunately for Haynesworth, the Washington Redskins are asking him to play nose tackle in their 3-4 defense. The zero-technique nose tackle is responsible for multiple gaps and simultaneously taking on at least two offensive players. In other words, the nose tackle does the dirty work so other players can make plays.
Haynesworth, who typically plays the right defensive tackle position, is used to playing in an aggressive, one-gap scheme. He has spent most of his career lined up as a three-technique tackle, allowing him to quickly and aggressively attack his gap and make plays.
The Redskins want him to play nose tackle, but Haynesworth would prefer playing for a team that employs a different scheme.
Thanks to a rumor started by Len Pasquarelli, the Seattle Seahawks could be the new team willing to feature Haynesworth in a more agreeable scheme. Haynesworth is likely to be traded and the former All-Pro could be had for close to nothing.
But do the Seahawks really need to acquire a player who could potentially develop into a headache?
Haynesworth’s dominance on the field earned him a seven-year, $100 million contract from Washington. You would almost expect such a high-paid athlete – Haynesworth, or any other player making millions – to be willing to line up anywhere on the field, regardless of the situation or potential outcome.
Arizona Cardinals defensive tackle Darnell Dockett was critical of Haynesworth via Twitter a few days ago, and probably said what a lot of people were already thinking:
Did I just hear this correctly ‘Albert Haynesworth’ will not be [at] mandatory minicamp? And he wants a trade, after signing 100 million dollar contract?”
That’s why I tell yall I’m nothing like these dudes, for a 100 million my ass will play 4-4, 3-4, 5-9, 4-8, and still whip ass!
If Haynesworth can revert back to All-Pro form, it could be worth it to let him play whatever role he wants on the defensive line. Disruptive and dominant are good ways to describe a happy and healthy Albert Haynesworth – you would be hard-pressed to find someone on Seattle’s defensive line who matches the same description.
Haynesworth would immediately upgrade Seattle’s pass rush. As a three-technique defensive tackle in Seattle’s defense, rather than occupying blockers as the nose tackle in a three-man front, Haynesworth would be able to penetrate, slant, and attack. Such a disruptive force in the trenches would attract additional attention and also allow opportunities for other defensive linemen.
But despite the upside of acquiring Haynesworth, is it really worth the risk? Even if Haynesworth is no longer disgruntled, he could still prove to be a headache with a new team.
Haynesworth spent the first five seasons of his NFL career operating as an overweight underachiever, and his stomping on the head of Andre Gurode was so shocking some people still question his character. Despite being a dominant force when healthy, Haynesworth is somewhat prone to injury and has never played a full campaign during his eight seasons in the NFL. And at 29 years old, it could be argued that Haynesworth’s best days are now behind him.
If the Seattle Seahawks can acquire Albert Haynesworth, the dominant, disruptive defensive tackle who regularly commands double- and triple-teams, then I’m definitely a proponent of any deal.
But if the Albert Haynesworth they’re going to acquire is injury-prone, disgruntled, and lazy, then I would prefer the Seahawks don’t even pick up when the Redskins call.
Tags: 3-4 defense, 4-3 defense, Albert Haynesworth, Andre Gurode, Brandon Mebane, Colin Cole, contract, Darnell Dockett, defensive scheme, defensive tackle, football, Len Pasquarelli, National Football League, nfl, nose tackle, Pro Bowl, rumor, Seahawks, Seattle Seahawks, trade, Washington Redskins