Dummy Weave Saturday
or competition friday, or whatever day it is


We asked yer, "HOW MUCH does a D-Line rotation help?" and reader Brent, rejoicing in the lack of Mariner implications in it, dumped an amazing bucket of refreshing Gatorade over his head:


When you are a 300+ pound defensive lineman, and you're basically doing a wind sprint impeded by a 300+ pound offensive lineman


He STOPS short

That's what it is!  ... hey, my son played O-Line and D-Line, I've studied sports motions for years, etc etc, but it was never crystallized for me quite this way.  One of the guys IS doing a wind sprint and the other is not only taking fewer steps, but has Physics Itself on his team (it's easier for anything to remain where it was than to get it moving).

And in one beautiful line, I understood why the defense gets tired.  Even though I've played lotsa defense in lotsa sports, I never got this.  That's a once-in-a-year aiki image there Brent, thanks kindly.


Mr Jonez pointed out that in 2013 the Seahawks had a "ridiculous" rotation on the D-Line and all of a sudden we "got" that too.  Not KNEW it, but GROKKED it.  (Grok = understand so deeply that you merge with it, and it becomes part of your personality.)

So would any of you mooks care to go through the Seahawks' second-line big men and compare the current depth, as such, to the 2013 depth?  In view of the fact that better starters are an aspect of depth itself.



If you missed it earlier in the summer, this is a very fun writeup (with videos) of the 8 players the Seahawks put in the NFL's top 100.  It's not even bylined.  Tough field to break in to, NFL writing, eh.


DOUG BALDWIN - This summer I saw that "this is not the receiver you're looking for" highlight on him, and just kinda suddenly got it (how much Doug Baldwin does that is similar to Steve Largent - his ankles, his hands, his heart).  The funny thing is, this 2011 post (by jemanji!) on Baldwin.  I didn't really stick with him as much as I shoulda.


KAM CHANCELLOR - thought he'd be slowing down by now, much less signing an extension right now.  There are several Seahawks who are the definition of their positions, but none as distinctively so as this guy.  ... what is the realistic window he has left to play at a high level?


EARL THOMAS - perhaps you missed Carroll's earlier baseball metaphor, "He's pitching a no-hitter right now." ... hey, another question.  It's a little puzzling to me how the Seahawks' defense can have 4 separate players (LOB, Wagner) that no other team has -- and yet NEED them all.  It seems to me that even one of them goes down and the whole defense can drop three levels.

Maybe that's because what the Seahawks do in the back 7 is so basic and predictable.  Not that they should change it.  But five years is a lot of time for the NFL to figure out how to attack this defense, so maybe its margins are hair-fine.


RUSSELL WILSON - my feeling had been this summer, "Boy, back in my day he'd have been at an age where he had a LOT of improvement left."  For some reason they don't emphasize that much at Field Gulls, though, so I kinda figured it must be different these days.  Then Pete Carroll put it this way in the above-linked top 100 article:


“It will be just continued comfort with what’s going on,” Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said at the end of last season. “His sense for anticipation of stuff, all of those things, just the feel. I think he’ll feel the pocket better, I think he’ll feel his receivers better, I think he’ll feel the urgency more clearly. You just get better.

Remember that we’re comparing him to guys that have played for 11 and 12 and 13 years. We compare him to the best in the world, because he’s worthy of that, but look at them when they were 6-years-old (in their careers). What were they doing, how many of those guys won so many games, how many of those guys were in the playoffs five times? I don’t know how many games he has won but he has won probably as many as anyone who’s ever started playing the game. He has been in position to do a lot of stuff and he has had a good team around him to do that, of course, but he has still got tons of growth.

“It’s going to be thrilling to watch what happens in the next three or four years. Get him to year eight or nine and see where he’s going to be, you know?”


"If you can't explain something simply, you don't understand it well enough." - Einstein.  Pete Carroll can explain very subtle football things in a very clear and convincing way, can't he?


Dr D




I've never even played flag football.  But my understanding, after reading some excellent writers opine on the subject, is that the Seahawks' Defense is indeed that simple and predictable.  And its excellence is made possible by the Big Five (Thomas, Chancellor, Sherman, Wagner and Wright).  Each of them does his job so well that everyone else on the team can narrow his focus and dominate his contests.

Remember Byron Maxwell, who got four interceptions in 2013 in only 5 starts?  Those interceptions were a direct result of QB's not wanting to throw to Sherman, and since everyone on the field knew the QB was loathe to throw Sherman's way, Maxwell 'only' had to stay on his assignment's hip and keep his eyes on the QB.  Do that, and he can ball hawk all day long--which he did.  The league adjusted to him in 2014 when he was a full-time starter, but his success came from everyone else locking down their parts of the field and letting him attack, attack, attack on the balls of his feet.

My understanding on Chancellor is that Strong Safeties tend to break down a few years earlier than Free Safeties, so he's got that working against him.  But I've also seen studies of top-tier SS that show they don't really stop being above average until their early thirties.  The worry with Chancellor (as I understand it) has always been that his style of play is so extremely physical that, like a bellcow RB, one day he'll turn into a pumpkin and that'll be that.

One thing on the D-line that I don't think gets enough mention.  Brandon Mebane was not the best DT in the game--he wasn't even top 10.  But he was, essentially, a Nose Tackle for a 3-4 system, which meant he was big, immovable, and could reliably close off even against double teams by interior linemen in the run game.  The downside was that he had close to zero pass rushing ability (thus the immortal gif of his belly roll after he recorded a sack).  Richardson grades extremely well in the run game (he was #5 among DT's last year or the year before, I forget which), but he's not a Nose Tackle like Mebane was (and even though Mebane was in Seattle's quasi-4-3 scheme, they basically played him like he was a 3-4 NT).  I don't know what effect that will have on the run defense, but it's going to make a difference somehow.  I'm just not educated enough to predict what that impact will look like.


Thank you for the kind words. As I was reading your response about your thought processes and defense, a light bulb went off for me as well. When it comes to offense/defense on passing plays, for the down lineman the roles are flipped

Traditionally, one thinks of defense as being where your opponent is coming at you, and you react to what he is doing. A cornerback reacts to the receiver's moves, a shortstop reacts to where the ball is hit, a point guard reacts to what his opposite number does while bringing the ball up the court. On a chessboard, it's 0-0 or 0-0-0. In football, on a running play that still holds true. The offensive line comes off the ball trying to push the defenders back in order to gain territory. But on a passing play, the defensive line is playing offense, trying to breach the castle wall and sack the town. (Side note: in interviews, Deacon Jones, who is credited with coining the term "sack", stated that's what he was thinking about when he first used the term to mean taking down the QB) 

If I've learned anything at all about Aikido while reading SSI, that's exactly what happens between offensive and defensive lineman on a passing play. Take the force coming at him and redirecting it away from the aggressor's intended target. Making the aggressor use up energy and tire himself out. For those of us here who are in a certain age range, we well remember "rope-a-dope". Ali let Foreman throw all the haymakers and use up his energy reserves; just protecting himself and biding his time. Anyone who was watching the first three rounds thought this could be a short fight - all Foreman needed to do was actually land a couple of those thundering right hands and that would be it. But Ali weathered the storm, then launched a fast-paced offense at a tired opponent who no longer had the stamina to hold up to the pace.

On the defensive line, while you have (in Seattle's case) four men who are ostensibly a unit, much of defensive line play can come down to one person winning his matchup and breaching the wall. If he gets tired another man can be substituted without a great deal of dropoff, provided you have sufficient skilled depth. So you have defensive coaches wanting to make sure their guys are fresh and going full-bore all the time. That does not apply on the offensive line. The offensive line is much more reliant on teamwork and continuity to ensure no breaches occur; you pretty much never, ever see the O-line guys get a breather. If they come off the field it's with medical personnel walking right next to them. 


but the very first post where Jeff (aka jemanji) elucidated the fact that the pitcher wasn't on defense (he wasn't defending the zone) he was on offense (he was attacking the zone!!!)...I tell ya, pardner, I was pickin' light bulb glass outta my hair for years after that particular gem...

You're absolutely right about O-line vs. D-line roles inverting based on the type of play, which is why you see dedicated Pass Rushers and dedicated Run Stuffers.  Brandon Mebane was a run stuffer, an immobile mass of humanity that literally could not be moved off a position he staked out by TWO men of roughly equal size.  But that sumo-style implacability came at the price of forward burst and agility.  A tree's roots plant it in one place from which it's difficult to move, whereas a snake relies on quickness and precision to bring down its target.  Both rely on their millions-of-years-in-the-making strategies to not only survive, but flourish in the ever-competitive biosphere.  It's all about specializing for a particular type of existence, then selecting for those specimens that Do It Better than the rest.

Great post :-)

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