Friday, March 11, 2011

I Guess I'll Talk About the Safety Position Too

Right on the football.
The usual offseason flurry of "personnel review" articles is underway on various blogs, and this week a few of them seem to have converged on Seattle's needs at strong safety.

This article from Dan Kelly of the Seehock Blog ought to make you a fan of sophomore strong safety Kam Chancellor. It goes over some of Kam's early scouting reports and breaks down a few highlight plays, noting his developing instincts and the power and intensity of his tackles. I'd like to see some lowlights to balance this out, but it's good stuff nonetheless.

Fieldgulls chimes in with concerns about the durability of Lawyer Milloy. The veteran safety really seemed to hit his "age wall" in the midst of 2010, losing a huge chunk of his speed and thus his impact. His most notorious failing was the Greg Olsen TD in the playoffs, which I still maintain is less Milloy's fault that the overall defense's, but still Milloy's lost burst remains a problem waiting to be exploited.

A thread at tosses around some worthwhile bits, including the comparison of Chancellor's size (6'4" and 240 pounds) to that of a linebacker. It's a fair comparison, considering Pete Carroll appears to favor linebacker hybrids (see: Chris Clemons, Dexter Davis) for his "Bandit" defense that relies on masked intentions.

The general impression is that Kam Chancellor improved as the season went on. There's a wrinkle in that impression, revealed by the snaps breakdowns in Brian McIntyre's personnel review (amazing the mileage one can get out of that simple tool): not only did Kam Chancellor play only 12% of the Seahawks' defensive snaps in 2010, but almost all of them were in the "Bandit" defense. He got virtually no time in base defense prior to Week 14 except in relief of Earl Thomas against the Giants. This means that Chancellor has hardly been tested as a starting strong safety at all.

Projected to go in the third round (and as high as the second by some) in the 2010 draft, and selected by a GM who has voiced an intention to start his mid-round picks, Kam Chancellor should be viewed as the future starter at the strong safety position. His limited starting experience seems a factor of an overall policy of easing new picks into the lineup (CB Walter Thurmond was deployed in similar fashion), not necessarily concern about his abilities. Playoff contention is no time to test your rookies; you put your best guys on the field, especially when your defense is already struggling.

Make no mistake, Chancellor isn't a burner or a perfect cover safety. He'll struggle at times with the deep play, though his instincts may develop enough to offset this. Fortunately, neither Carroll's defensive history nor Seattle's current Tampa 2 configuration require Kam to be anything but exactly what he is: an in-the-box run stopper and strong tackler, with decent zone ability, potential as a blitzer, and special-teams prowess tossed in. We can argue about the value of this role until the cows come home (and continue while they chew their cud), but Chancellor does fit Seattle's scheme like a glove.

I'm happy to start Chancellor in 2010 and see what he's made of. He's gotten almost no chance to strut his stuff as it is. It would be nice to see Chancellor evolve into a solid value pick who actually grows into the game and peaks in the midst of a long career, rather than in his rookie season like many of Ruskell's greatest hits. We need football players whose best games are ahead of them, not behind, and although Kam is untested, he has enticing potential. Start him; Lawyer Milloy's tired tendons will be grateful, and they've earned their retirement.


  1. Brandon, thanks for linking to my article. As for Kam's lowlights, I have been planning on doing a followup piece on the state of the Hawks' Safety position (HAH like everyone else in the blogosphere) and I'll do a more thorough look at some film of him and try and give a more balanced look at it (and that of Milloy as well). Thanks for the tip, I'm still trying to get a grasp of overall format and content for my blog so that kind of feedback helps.

    Keep up the good work, Im a daily reader of your blog.

  2. No sweat, Dan. Didn't mean to sound critical. Looking forward to the lowlights, hope they aren't too low. ;)

  3. haha yeah, hopefully there won't be too many plays where he blatantly blows his assignment. The painful part is having to re-watch all the games he got garbage time in because the Hawks were getting blown out by 20.. or 30. Maybe that's why subconsciously I just included the good parts.

  4. I like Kam's potential. He has a bit of Ken Hamlin in him in that he won't get a lot of INT's, but he will have a presence in the middle that receivers will have to account for.

    One error you made though, is in the paragraph, you state it's Milloy's size and not Chancellor's.


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