submitted by David Crockett
Sorry it’s been such a long time between posts at 12SS. Yikes. I do hope the New Year has brought all of you good stuff so far and hope like hell it brings us a victory.
I feel confident, though certainly not assured, of a victory today over the ‘Skins. I think Seattle is the better team over the course of the season, though not by much. Although the ‘Skins have undoubtedly played the tougher competition the impact of schedule strength in any one matchup is widely overstated. HOW you play is far more important than WHO you play. (For those of you who follow college football, it’s the difference between Hawai’i and Kansas. They both played creampuff schedules, but the Rainbow Warriors had a number of narrow escapes while Kansas crushed their inferior opponents.) The Seahawks and ‘Skins played reasonably similar football over the course of the 2006 season based on DVOA; Seattle slightly better.
Of course, honesty demands that we acknowledge the ‘Skins are riding high and playing well right now. Unlike baseball, where momentum is only as good as the next days starting pitcher, football does have game-to-game momentum. But even in football momentum has limits. I tend to think it runs about four starts long. If a QB is living on borrowed time you’ll know it by the fifth start. Four weeks of film is enough (even for John Marshall) to break down strengths and weaknesses by situation. I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that Todd Collins is THE key for the ‘Skins. Barring the completely unexpected, the ‘Skins have no answers if Collins turns back into a pumpkin today. I should say I don’t expect Collins to completely spit the bit in this game (I think he’s basically A.J. Feeley) but I do suspect he’ll come back down to earth a tad.
For Seattle, I see three major keys*, one in each area:
Defense – the four down linemen must win the matchups they can win with the offensive line. Mebane particularly must occupy two blockers. The front four must keep Collins from getting into any kind of rhythm. Blitz? Sure, but Collins has phone booth mobility. He gets rid of the ball quickly. You blitz Rex Grossman to get sacks and turnovers. You blitz a QBs like Collins or Feeley to control the pace and direction of the offense; to make the ball go where you want it to go.
Offense – we must be able to convert short yardage in the running game. To me this is THE key offensively. Hass is the unquestioned leader, the best offensive player. But, since I expect this to be a close game, the last four minutes of a game that’s clocked is won on offense not defense. We must be able to control the clock late in the game.
Special Teams – What’s up with the coverage teams? Let’s hope that Niko’s return can get them straightened out. I think Washington will struggle to move the ball if they have to play on long fields so we can’t give up anything cheap. Josh Brown and Plack (knock wood) appear to have straightened out their issues with the arrival of Jeff Robinson.
* Not to be confused with Mon-Keys. I would not be so presumptuous.