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Monday metatarsal musings
A very large piece of club history was almost lost in the Seahawks’ disheartening loss to the Washington Redskins on Sunday.
Red Bryant got his very large right hand – which is attached to his very long right arm, which is attached to his extra-large body – on not one, but two kicks in the 23-17 setback. He blocked a 23-yard field goal attempt in the second quarter and then added a blocked PAT in the fourth quarter.
Coupled with his pair of blocked field goals in a 6-3 loss to the Cleveland Browns in Week 7, Bryant has set the single-season record for blocked kicks and tied the mark for blocked field goals.
What’s going on here? How can a player – even one as talented as Bryant – go from not blocking a kick in his first three seasons to holding his own block party in the past six games of his fourth season?
It’s the scheme, of course, as special teams coach Brian Schneider and assistant Jeff Ulbrich have devised ways to allow Bryant to come free for those blocks. It’s also team work, as Raheem Brock, Anthony Hargrove and David Hawthorne have to do their assignments properly to allow Bryant to do his thing.
“For that entire group, it’s become extremely important to them,” Ulbrich said on Monday. “You look around the league and a lot of defenses take that snap off. But these guys have really approached it like it’s the most important defensive play.”
It’s also Bryant, too. A 6-foot-4, 330-pounder with long arms, he has the ability and agility to wedge his body through the slightest of gaps and a drive that borders on the demented.
“Obviously Red is very talented,” Ulbrich said. “He has great get-off and then he has great length. That makes a big difference.”
So does the effort of Brock. And Hargrove . And Hawthorne.
“ ‘Heater’ (Hawthorne) did a great job of pushing. Raheem did a great job of hitting the tackle. Hargrove did a great job of getting up on his guy,” is the way Bryant explained it. “Everybody did a great job. They made it possible for me to slide through there.”
Bryant’s four blocked kicks are one more than Mike White (1982), Joe Nash (1989) and Craig Terrill (2010) had. The three blocked field goals are as many as Nash and Terrill had. The blocked PAT ties the single-game record and leaves Bryant one shy of tying White’s season mark from 1981.
“What Red is doing, what the whole unit is doing, it’s really cool,” Ulbrich said.
With that said, here’s a look at three things that worked against the Redskins, and three things that need work as the Seahawks prepare for Thursday night’s game against the also 4-7 Philadelphia Eagles at CenturyLink Field:
Marshawn Lynch – The “usual suspects” list starts with the “Beast Mode” back. Another 100-yard rushing performance, his third in the past four games. Another touchdown, in his seventh consecutive game started. Another reason for optimism as the Seahawks head into their final six games.
Jon Ryan – In case you haven’t noticed, the Seahawks’ punter is having a Pro Bowl-caliber season. Sunday – the day after his 30th birthday – he averaged 44.5 yards and had a net of 43.3 on six punts, with a long of 67 yards and four inside the 20. Last week, it was a 49.7 average, a net of 44.9, a long of 71 and four inside the 20 on nine punts. The week before that, it was a 53.3 average and a long of 65 yards.
You get the picture. Ryan is giving the Seahawks a leg up in the battle for field position.
Bryant – Yes, he blocks kicks. But Sunday, he also tackled Roy Helu for a 2-yard loss and got one of the Seahawks’ nine hits on Rex Grossman. Bryant not only plays hard, he plays well.
WHAT NEEDS WORK
Penalties – Still. The Seahawks cut down on the number (nine) and yards (91) from their matching totals in the previous two games (13 for 100), but the penalties against the Redskins seemed to be even more costly and have coach Pete Carroll threatening to take further action against the repeat offenders.
“Sometimes you just have to put other guys in the game,” Carroll said after the Seahawks had boosted their season totals to 105 penalties for 814 yards. “If the game guys keep making mistakes, you have to put other guys in. We’ll have to take a look at that.”
Cornerback Brandon Browner (holding) and linebacker K.J. Wright (roughness) had penalties on third downs that provided first downs for the Redskins. Lynch (holding) and right tackle Breno Giacomini (chop block) had first-down penalties that left the Seahawks in first-and-20 and first-and-25 situations. Wide receiver Golden Tate (unsportsmanlike conduct) and Browner (roughness) had penalties that forced the Seahawks to kickoff from their 20-yard line and moved the ball from the Seahawks’ 33 to the 18 after a punt.
And, there were four other penalties on the Seahawks that the Redskins declined.
Consistency – How does a team that upsets the Giants in the Meadowlands one week come out and score three points in a three-point loss to the Browns in Cleveland two weeks later? How does a team that knocks off the Baltimore Ravens one week come out and get knocked around by the Redskins two weeks later?
That’s just one the quandaries the coaches and players are chewing on during this short week. It’s tempting, and perhaps even correct, to point to the youth on the Seahawks’ roster. But one of those young players isn’t buying it.
“I don’t think we can use that as an excuse anymore,” said Doug Baldwin, the rookie free agent who is leading the team in receptions (37) and receiving yards (604). “We’ve played 11 games and the maturity level is there. I don’t think we’re young at all. We’ve played 11 games, so there’s no excuse for the things that are going on – the penalties and the miscommunication.”
Mike Williams – After 11 games last season, Williams had 54 receptions and was on his way to leading the team in receiving. This year, he has 14 and Sunday he went without a reception and dropped a couple of balls. Williams eventually went to the sideline because of a shoulder injury.
“I kind of landed on my shoulder,” he said after the game. “But I wasn’t playing good anyway, so I don’t think it matters if I’m healthy or not. This whole year has kind of been not what I’ve been accustomed to and not what I envisioned for myself from the beginning.
“I’ve just got to kind of get out of this rut and try to get my rhythm back. Today there were some plays and opportunities for me to have a big day and it just didn’t work out.”
But Williams wasn’t alone after the way things didn’t work out for the entire team.