We saw the clean hit Kam Chancellor put on Vernon Davis in week 17. We saw the flags fly giving the 49ers first and goal instead of the 4th and long they were facing. Then we saw on the replay that Chancellor’s hit on Davis was a textbook hit on a receiver that was intended to separate the ball from the receiver. So what gives? Defensive backs are complaining that it’s physically impossible to play their positions with the NFL’s well meaning but ill conceived new rules on how defensive backs are allowed to tackle receivers. The rules are not only impossible for players to obey given the unpredictable movement of the receiver, they are also impossible for a referee to correctly call. The new rules are causing players to get unwarranted fines, teams to get unwarranted penalties, and have changed the outcomes of a few games.
Another drawback of the new rule is defensive backs are afraid to tackle anyone high for fear of inadvertent helmet contact. The predictable result is they are now tackling around the knees of receivers and, as the 49ers Mario Manningham unfortunately found out, that can result in a blown out knee and a year out of the league while rehabbing the repaired but never to be the same joint. Aren’t we just trading concussions for destroyed knees?
So, what’s the answer? Players can go broke hitting high, and receivers can have their careers cut short by low tackles around the knees. Lacking a change in the laws of physics or a really high tech concussion-proof helmet, there’s one easy thing that can be done. How about using the red flag replay for those calls? When both the players and the refs can’t get a fair shake with a rule, it’s time to either change the rules again or use playbacks to fairly enforce the rules. It doesn’t make it any easier for the defensive back to avoid an inadvertent rule violation, but maybe when the receiver suddenly ducks his head replay will show it’s not the D-back’s fault; and at the very least replay can show when an unfairly flagged hit is a good legal hit. Sure it could open up a bag of worms as replay officials try to interpret a defender’s intent or a receiver’s reflexive “duck and cover” move, but it’s worth a try.
If something isn’t done about this issue football will continue to lose credibility as a contact sport. Now….what the hell is this garbage about eliminating the kickoff! DON’T GET ME STARTED!!!
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
Fortunately, there weren’t any serious injuries suffered in Denver. Health in the National Football League is a good thing.
Leroy Hill strained his calf and was wearing a boot following the game. According to reports, Hill is going to need some time to completely recover.
Hill, however, was barely noticeable prior to his injury. Combined with his suspension and previous injuries, he was an unreliable asset entering this season anyway. David Hawthorne is expected to remain a starter for now and his position with the first team has been earned.
Continuity on the offensive line remains a concern, especially following Max Unger’s season-ending injury. Stacy Andrews was less-than-impressive as a replacement, but mostly because of ill-timed mistakes and needless penalties.
Ben Hamilton returned to the starting lineup after the team briefly experimented with Mike Gibson at left guard. Hamilton was the projected starter throughout the offseason, but Gibson outplayed him in training camp and was given the starting nod in week one.
Right now, the starting line features Tyler Polumbus, Ben Hamilton, Chris Spencer, Stacy Andrews, and Sean Locklear. Surprisingly, Tyler Polumbus has been inconspicuous at left tackle – good for an offensive lineman – as the team waits for Russell Okung to return from a high ankle sprain.
According to Carroll, Okung will begin running on land this week – as opposed to working out on a treadmill – and could begin practicing soon. I doubt he’ll be ready to play against San Diego, but could be back in the starting lineup in a few weeks.
No serious news regarding new injuries is good news for the Seattle Seahawks.
Tags: Ben Hamilton, Chris Spencer, David Hawthorne, football, injury, left tackle, LeRoy Hill, Max Unger, Mike Gibson, National Football League, News, nfl, offensive line, Pete Carroll, Qwest field, Russell Okung, San Diego Chargers, Seahawks, Sean Locklear, Seattle Seahawks, Stacy Andrews, Tyler Polumbus
This is the worst possible news for the Hawks. Unger was one of the few bright spots last year for the Hawks and was poised to become even better this year. That is until he broke his toe early in the 49ers game. Being the stud he is, Max played through the injury. After the game, initial reports had Unger missing next week’s game and that was it. After all it is only a toe, right? Reports this afternoon state that Unger will now be out for the entire season. I can’t help but wonder if this could have been prevented had Unger not played through the injury. It’s a really tough call. Did PC know about it and keep him in, or did Unger keep the injury to himself until the game’s conclusion? Either way a man weighing in at over 300 pounds has now been placed on IR for a TOE injury. Hang in there Hawk fans, and let’s hop that Okung’s rookie year will make up for the loss. That is whenever he gets back from his injury.
The Seattle Seahawks have confirmed they acquired offensive tackle Tyler Polumbus from the Detroit Lions. While the specific compensation is unknown, it is reportedly an undisclosed pick in the 2012 draft.
Polumbus started eight games at right tackle for the Denver Broncos last season and was a hot commodity on the waiver wire last week. The Broncos waived him following Ryan Clady’s return from injury.
The Seahawks, Lions, and Texans all put in waiver claims for Polumbus last week. The Detroit Lions, who had the worst record of the bunch in 2009, were awarded the rights.
Polumbus does have starting experience, but he was noticeably worse than Ryan Harris, who started the first eight games of 2009 for Denver. Polumbus stepped in for Harris following an injury that kept him out for the second half of the season.
The Broncos obviously considered Polumbus expendable, so I wouldn’t get too excited about the acquisition. He does, however, offer Seattle something they don’t currently have: depth on the offensive line.
It is worth noting that Polumbus played with the Broncos in 2008 when Jeremy Bates was in Denver.
Because of his size, the Seahawks may be willing to gamble on Polumbus even after Denver dumped him. He is 6-feet-8, 300 pounds and has starting experience in the National Football League.
At the very least, it is a necessary move to bolster an offensive line struggling with injuries.
When Deion Branch came to Seattle for the 1st round pick (24th) in 2006, nobody seemed to mind.
The words, “Super Bowl MVP” just floated out of fans’ mouths, Tim Ruskell couldn’t wait to get his hands on, what seemed to be, a key component of the unstoppable New England Patriots’ offense, and Branch was equally excited to get paid after posting career numbers in receptions (78) yards (998) and touchdowns (5) in 2005. Fans collectively held their breathe and watched… knowing what was about to come… waiting for him to explode… any minute now…
Four seasons later, fans are no longer waiting. The only thing they have demanded as of late concerning Deion Branch is that he be traded or released. The Seahawks and their fans made a time honored mistake by giving too much credit where it had never been earned. They organization took a gamble on what looked to be the MAKINGS of an elite wide receiver only to wake up to the reality of the last four seasons.
Deion Branch has never been an elite wide receiver in the NFL. Not with New England and certainly not with Seattle.
Granted, Branch has had some big games when it counted. In 2 consecutive Super Bowls he caught 21 passes (3rd all time) for a total of 276 yards. And in his last game as a Patriot, a Divisional playoff loss to the Broncos, he racked up 153 yards. But if you look at his career statistics during the regular season, especially as a Seahawk, he starts to look a lot less spectacular:
Branch has never had a 1000 yard season.
Branch has never had more than 5 touchdowns in a single season.
Branch’s highest reception total for a season is 78. His next highest is 58.
Branch has only played in 33 of Seattle’s last 48 games.
The problem is that Seahawks fans thought they were getting a Franchise guy. They thought they were getting someone who was closer to Steve Largent than he was to Darrell Jackson. Unfortunately, Branch lost sight of Largent and fell right past Darrell Jackson into a pool of overpaid obscurity bearing the judgment and harsh criticism of the majority of Hawk fans.
Deion Branch is the classic Ruskell guy in that his personality and work ethic are off the charts. He’s the type of guy that will have the younger players over for dinner. He helps acclimate new players to life in Seattle. He has the biggest smile in the locker room, and he never misses anything regarding his job.
But when it came to his job, he never got any better.
Branch has been one of the most overpaid wide receivers in the NFL since coming to Seattle. The Patriots knew what they had in Branch: a hard working, intelligent, and well liked receiver who was capable of coming up huge from time to time in a big game, but by no means was he ever going to accumulate the type of seasons Randy Moss has put together since becoming a Patriot. New England decided to “Franchise” Branch, even though he was not a “Franchise” player, in hopes that some other sucker in the NFL would give him a nibble.
Tim Ruskell swallowed the whole hook signing Branch to a contract which has paid him over 27 million concluding the 2009 season.
At this point, the expectations placed on Branch changed immensely. Fans looked at the contract before they looked at the statistics. They looked at his contract after each of his many injuries. Regardless of any reason Branch did not perform on a given week, fans pointed to the contract.
One of my all-time favorite wide receivers in Seahawk history will always be Bobby Engram. He had big moments in big games. He seemed to be the anchor for his position as well as his team at times. I hated to see him go, but understand why he is gone. In more ways than one, Engram may be a window into how New England fans felt about Branch. Two players with similar salaries always giving us just a little bit mor than we payed them for.
That all changed for Branch from the minute he and his salary arrived in Seattle. Seahawk fans would never be allowed the luxury of taking him for granted.
I looked up statistics on both players. In Engrams case, I only used his 8 years in Seattle. In Branch’s case, I averaged his career numbers (8), as well as his numbers in Seattle (4) and New England (4).
Engram vs. Branch
49 receptions per year
623 yards per year
3.5 touchdowns per year
53 receptions per year
686 yards per year
3.5 touchdowns per year
Total Salary: 2.64 million
44 receptions per year
558 yards per year
3.5 touchdowns per year
Total Salary: 27.46 million
50 receptions per year
607 yards per year
2.25 touchdowns per year
Total salary: 10.01 million
* it is important to note that Engram’s total salary is over the course of 8 years while Branch’s is over 4 years. In other words, a more fair comparison would involve cutting Engram’s Total salary down to 5.05 million.
There is absolutely no way Branch could ever give as much as Bobby Engram did to the Seahawks at this point in his career. The hole many fans have thrown Deion into is a dark cavernous place where expectations go to die. If you listen closely enough, one can sometimes hear the occasional scream from the likes of Dan McGwire, Lamar King, or Marcus Tubbs.
Although the chance for Branch to earn his money has passed, the chance for him to earn the respect of his fans, teammates, and organization may still hang in the balance. Branch is suited best for the slot position, especially when considering his height, 5′ 9“. His experience will be more important than his athletic ability, and he just looks a lot better when matched up against a nickel corner (For the Seahawks that would be Kelly Jennings) than a team’s number one. (Marcus Trufant).
I find myself waiting for Deion Branch one more time this season, however, my expectations have evaporated into one last mist of hope. I don’t expect 1000 yards, but I am hoping for a dependable 1st down target. I don’t expect 10 touchdowns anymore, but I sure hope he can stay healthy.
Will he ever earn the money he received? No.
Will he be more succesful in his new role? Yes
Will he have enough time to untangle a portion of his relationship with Seahawk fans?
Earlier this week, it was announced that Mike Gibson would be starting at left guard this Saturday against the Minnesota Vikings. The change was somewhat surprising, only because Ben Hamilton seemed like a lock to start at that position through most of the offseason.
Hamilton, who signed with Seattle this offseason after spending nine seasons in Denver, was touted by coaches for his knowledge of the zone-blocking scheme. Especially with a rookie at left tackle, part of Hamilton’s duties would be to act as a mentor for the players around him. If he could still play, it seemed like a perfect fit.
Hamilton’s ability to play, however, may be in question.
After Josh McDaniels took over in Denver, the Broncos switched from their traditional zone-blocking scheme to more of a power-blocking scheme. Hamilton, as a smaller, more agile player, is much better suited in a zone-blocking scheme.
In fact, Hamilton was actually bumped from Denver’s starting lineup last season.
When he was relegated to a backup role, Hamilton was the longest-tenured Bronco regardless of position. It was the first time Hamilton had missed a start in which he was healthy since 2002.
After starting over one hundred games on an offensive line in the NFL, however, the body will take quite a toll. Hamilton did not play a game in 2007 due to a concussion and at 33 years old, he certainly is not getting any younger.
Following last season, it was obvious that Hamilton was expendable. He no longer fit the Broncos’ offensive scheme and there were younger, more viable options to fill his position. While conducting a position-by-position analysis after the season concluded, one article in The Denver Post assumed Hamilton would retire following a nine-year career in the National Football League.
Then the Seahawks came calling.
Hamilton is obviously a good fit in Seattle’s blocking scheme, but can he still play? Are we going to have to watch another older lineman struggle to keep up with younger, healthier players?
According to Mike Sando of ESPN.com, Gibson will take over as the starter at left guard – for now. Sando also said that in his evaluation of both players, Gibson has been more impressive:
Mike Gibson will replace Ben Hamilton at left guard against the Vikings. He could stay there, I think, based on what we’ve seen from both players to this point.
Maybe Hamilton was only starting so he could mentor Russell Okung and aid in his development as a starting left tackle. Okung, however, will not be able to play for at least two more weeks following a high ankle sprain; ironically, Hamilton is the probable cause of the injury after landing hard on Okung’s leg against the Packers.
With Okung injured, Hamilton’s best asset, his knowledge of the zone-blocking scheme, is unnecessary. And if Mike Gibson is physically better than Hamilton, Pete Carroll’s theme of competition should prevail.
To make the situation a little trickier and definitely worth watching, however, Hamilton sat out of practice yesterday with an ice bag on his knee. On Tuesday, he worked as the second-unit center.
Is Hamilton’s demotion simply an opportunity for him to nurse injuries as the regular season approaches? More than likely, it is because of Mike Gibson’s superior play. Gibson will get an opportunity to prove himself and the starting job is probably his to lose at this point.
As the offensive line crumbles before our eyes, the left guard position will definitely be worth watching in the near future.
Tags: Alex Gibbs, Ben Hamilton, Denver Broncos, football, injury, Josh McDaniels, left guard, Mike Gibson, Minnesota Vikings, National Football League, nfl, offensive line, Pete Carroll, preseason, Russell Okung, Seahawks, Seattle Seahawks, zone-blocking scheme
At first, it looked really bad.
Russell Okung, Seattle’s huge investment and first-round pick, was carted off the field and into the locker room last Saturday against the Green Bay Packers.
Some people assumed it was serious – possibly even a season-threatening fracture. Awaiting news, most of Seattle’s fans cringed thinking about Mansfield Wrotto as the team’s new starting left tackle.
Following negative x-ray results and a subsequent MRI, the team announced they expected Okung to miss 2-4 weeks. He would definitely miss the rest of the exhibition season, but could be ready to go for the season opener.
Injuries are never good, but it appeared as if Seattle had dodged a bullet. Nothing serious, and Okung would apparently be ready to go when the games started to matter.
Today, however, the news became slightly worse.
Head coach Pete Carroll revealed that Russell Okung does, in fact, have a high ankle sprain – the same injury that plagued tackle Sean Locklear for more than two months last season.
It’s day-to-day, I hate to even think week-to-week. We’re going to just keep looking at him as we’re going through this. In terms of injuries, I don’t think he’s missed a game before or even a practice. So he doesn’t have any experience of having to come back from something so we’ll figure that out as we go.
It’s not the worst one we’ve ever seen. It’s kind of a moderate one. So that’s why we’re holding out hope that maybe he can get back quickly, but those can be difficult. We have to see how it goes for him.
Keep your fingers crossed.
Remember when Leroy Hill was one of the surprise from the 2005 NFL Draft? As the ninety-eighth overall selection, Hill spent his rookie season collecting 7.5 sacks as a part-time starter and situational pass rusher.
The following season, when the strong-side linebacker position was his to lose, Hill excelled. Playing alongside Lofa Tatupu, he recorded 92 tackles and a pair of sacks. The Seahawks trio of linebackers – Hill, Tatupu, and Julian Peterson – was one of the better units in the National Football League.
Lofa Tatupu once called Leroy Hill the most talented linebacker in Seattle.
“I’d say Leroy is our best linebacker,” Tatupu told reporters in 2008. “It’s tough to say that. I’ve got a lot of pride. Julian’s got a lot of pride. He probably wouldn’t admit it, but he’d be wrong in saying that Leroy isn’t our best linebacker.”
Julian Peterson, however, wasn’t shy about praising Hill.
“Leroy is definitely one of the best,” Peterson admitted. “He’s got the right combination – he hits with tenacious power, he runs to the ball, he can blitz, he can cover.”
That was about two years ago. Now, it is uncertain that Hill will even be starting for the Seahawks in 2010.
Last season, the Seahawks chose to designate Hill as their franchise player, guaranteeing he would not leave via free agency. After rescinding the tag following the draft, Hill agreed to a six-year, $36 million deal.
Hill, however, has never played a full sixteen-game season. After missing two starts in 2007, he has missed a combined nine games the past two seasons. As an undersized, athletic defender, Hill seems more prone to injuries – especially as he gets older.
But as a talented, versatile athlete, the injury risk was well worth it. If Hill is the most talented linebacker in Seattle, there is no reason to let him walk away without compensation.
Unfortunately, in addition to injuries , Hill can’t seem to stay out of trouble off the field. He received twelve months of probation in Georgia after pleading guilty to a charge of marijuana possession stemming from a January 2009 traffic stop in suburban Atlanta.
Just days after reaching a plea deal on the marijuana charge, Hill was arrested for investigation of domestic violence in Issaquah. And even now, as the domestic violence charges linger, he is facing new allegations of witness tampering, witness intimidation, and violation of an existing no-contact order.
Considering Leroy Hill’s plethora of legal problems, several Seahawks fans did not expect – or want – him to be Seattle’s starting linebacker in 2010.
The emergence of David Hawthorne eased any concerns about Hill’s absence, but what happened to the most talented linebacker in Seattle? Have we witnessed the rise and fall of Leroy Hill?
Hill is already suspended for the first week of the regular season for his legal troubles. But now he is facing another injury that will keep him out for most of the preseason.
Last week, Hill suffered a knee injury. While originally thought to be only a minor tweak, it turns out the injured knee will keep him inactive for weeks.
Leroy Hill seems to be constantly facing one setback after another. Unfortunately for the Seahawks, Hill’s setbacks have prevented him from contributing as the best linebacker on the team.
Tags: David Hawthorne, domestic violence, football, franchise tag, injury, Julian Peterson, knee, LeRoy Hill, linebacker, Lofa Tatupu, marijuana possession, National Football League, nfl, Opinion, preseason, Seahawks, Seattle Seahawks, suspension
Clare Farnsworth of Seahawks.com posted a nice article yesterday about Seahawks running back Leon Washington.
According to Farnsworth, Leon Washington is working harder than anyone behind the scenes, attempting to return following a horrific leg injury last fall.
It’s after practice that Washington gets down to work, rehabbing the broken right leg that ended his 2009 season and put his promising career not only on hold but in jeopardy.
“There’s a lot going on, it’s just unseen,” Washington said.
Like running up the berm that is adjacent to the outdoor practice fields. Like pushing his 5-foot-8, 203-pound body through a battery of tests and exercises in the indoor practice facility. But instead of everyone seeing his butt-busting efforts, only the eyes of a single trainer are trained on his every move.
“I’m working behind the scenes,” he said with a smile.
According to the rumor mill at ESPN.com, Leon Washington could have a positive impact on Seattle’s running game this year. Of course, that is, assuming he can return to the football field.
The folks over at ESPN.com believe that “given the promise he showed earlier in his career, he could wind up being one of the best bargain pickups this offseason.”
The Seahawks traded fifth- and seventh-round picks (139th and 236th overall) to New York in exchange for Washington during last April’s NFL draft.