Saturday, August 27, 2011

Five Things to REALLY Watch vs. DEN

I won't be able to watch tonight's game (going huckleberry picking), but I just thought I'd rattle off a few important players and positions on the team that nobody seems to be talking about. The third preseason game is usually the most crucial and revealing, and this week Pete Carroll will be playing his starters into the third quarter.

Alan Branch

The ability of DT Alan Branch to penetrate the line and pressure QB's is going to be key to this defense. So far, he's flashed as much effectiveness against the pass as Colin Cole - which is to say, none except for the occasional tipped pass. Branch is built much more like Red Bryant and could struggle on the inside for the same reasons Bryant did - too big, not enough leverage against squattier guards who know how to get under him.

Backup Safety

Two weeks ago, Josh Pinkard was a goat for blowing a coverage and leaving Kelly Jennings 1-on-1 to defend Vincent Jackson. At that time, nobody foresaw a roster spot for him. Last week, he got in a spectacular forced fumble and is suddenly a real candidate for the 53.

In both cases, popular opinion of the injury-plagued USC defender has been decided largely by one big play. His real worth is decided by the fundamentals that he shows in the quiet downs. Someone should be watching him for his coverage decisions, his reactions, his awareness and his tackling.

Pinkard's competition, Mark Legree, has been virtually invisible the past month and recently did an interview containing all the usual quotes of a player about to be put on the practice squad. I wonder who Carroll will choose - an old USC alumni he's kept around for a year, or an actual draft pick.

Slot Receiver

Sophomore receiver Golden Tate was getting big training-camp accolades over his improving route running - right up until last week, when two big drops almost single-handedly killed Seattle's offense. His heir apparent? Doug Baldwin (got it right!), who has shown some undeniable polish as a slot receiver. He's been productive on the field, but not with the first-team offense. He needs snaps against starting defenses before we just crown him as Tate's replacement.

Pete Carroll has had a strong hand in Tate's development. Tate continued to get snaps after his first-half snafus against Minnesota, and wound up with one reception. It wouldn't surprise me to see Tate given more chances. He's supposed to be getting used as a short-play weapon of the very kind that can help a QB defeat pressure. If that happens, with Ben Obomanu returning to the field for the first time this season, Baldwin may not get as many reps as he'd like.

Max Unger

Unger was a terrible guard in 2009, spending far too much time getting blown into his own backfield. People have said that he'll fare better at his natural center position, but the knock against Unger has been his strength, and both guard and center involve strength showdowns against big, heavy men. How much different can center be? They benefit more from combo blocks against guards, but there will still be one-on-one matchups from time to time. Unger has to start winning more of them.

Justin Forsett

The 7th-round fan favorite looks more and more like a fusing of the negatives of Leon Washington (smallish, questionable durability) and Marshawn Lynch (not very fast, bit of a dancer). I maintain my opinion that he could become trade bait if he doesn't start showing. He sat out with neck stiffness against San Diego and was misused as a goal-line back against Minnesota. Hopefully he'll flash more with extended snaps against the Broncos.


  1. I'm pretty sure Forsett's spot is safe. There are 3 spots for RB, and he's a much better RB than Thomas Clayton. Goal line situations aside, I actually think Forsett is the best pure RB on the team right now, at least for a ZBS. He's far more adept at penetrating the 1st level than Washington or especially Lynch, and those 4-5 yard carries are the bread and butter of a ZBS running game.

  2. Not signing Spencer and going with Unger was a step backwards. Along with Unger, Moffit is reported to have strength issues. Can Carpenter pass block or is he right now being measured for a 56 triple d Maidenform?

    It's way too early but it looks like Cable may have scrood the pooch on draft picks 1 & 3.

  3. Uh, you write a Seahawks blog but missed the game because you went huckleberry picking? No huckleberry picking allowed on Sunday? I am vexed, very very vexed.

  4. Scott, is that you? ;)

    Yeah, some very close friends of mine were going huckleberry picking that day. They will shortly be moving out of town, so I took this final opportunity to spend time with em.

    I do have some posting ideas this week that don't depend on having seen the game. In the meantime, I'm checking to see if Scott and Kip can discuss the game for me.

  5. one thought on forsett, he is one of the highest rated pass blocking backs in football. I don't know if that is caused by his 3rd down back status.

    I think, with the way this line has been playing, that is worth a roster slot.

  6. Not me, B. I love those berries. I make a pretty good huckleberry cream cheese pie. Also a pretty good glaze for salmon from huckleberries. Great, now I am salivating. I watched the game, and Brandon made the right choice.