I spent a few minutes going back and forth with Hawk Blogger about the Rams and the Seahawks match up this Sunday. You can find my half of the exchange here. Thanks to Hawk Blogger for taking the time to deal with my (possibly) insane questions.
RamsGab: Leon Washington single-handedly won the game against the Chargers
with one of the best special teams days in the history of the NFL. Is
that repeatable? Will any other team kick to him again for the rest
of the year?
Hawk Blogger: The first thing I’d want to point out is that it was far from single-handed. While Leon had a massive influence on the outcome, the Seahawks were ahead 10-0 at halftime, and could have easily been ahead 24-0 if Deion Branch hadn’t fumbled the ball inches before the goal line, and Pete Carroll hadn’t blown a 3rd down from the 1-yard line as time ran out. The defense also kept SD from scoring the tying touchdown twice in the final three minutes. As far as Leon’s returns go, it’s certainly unlikely that we’ll see that happen again. He will have to be kicked to unless you have a kicker that can boot it through the end zone. The Seahawks special teams are solid in all aspects, so I would not be shocked to see Leon impact another game or two before the season is done.
RamsGab: A lot of Rams fans (including myself) wanted Aaron Curry over Jason
Smith in the 2009 NFL draft. Can you update us on how Curry’s 1+
years have gone in the NFL?
HB: Every Seahawks fan wants to believe the best is still to come for Curry, but history and evidence suggests his best will be less than Pro Bowl. Unlike positions like QB or WR, linebackers tend to make their presence felt right away. Take a look at the last decade of defensive rookies of the year, and you will find a litany of linebackers. Curry stands out as a physical specimen, but has not been a game-changing player. Many people point to the fact that the Seahawks are asking him to be a pass-rusher, which he never was in college, as part of the reason for his struggles. Unfortunately, he has also struggled in coverage, in space, and just plain tackling. It is not all bad. He is a hard worker who takes coaching and is improving. Pete Carroll rightly changed the defensive scheme to allow Curry to play more on the line of scrimmage like he was accustomed to at Wake Forest. That has unlocked some of his potential against the run where you will notice him blowing up tight ends on a regular basis and turning running plays back inside to our new massive DE Red Bryant. I doubt you’ll ever truly regret bypassing Curry, but we will keep hoping in Seattle!
The rest of the Q & A is after the jump.
RG: The Seahawks have beaten up on the Rams in recent years including
winning the last 10 meetings. Is there anything left in this
“rivalry” from the Seattle side?
HB: Absolutely. There is not the animosity there once was, but the Rams were world-beaters when the Seahawks joined the NFC West. Kurt Warner, Marc Bulger (the good one), Leonard Little, Torry Holt, Isaac Bruce and the rest tore the hearts out of Seahawks fans many-a-time. I was at the game when Shaun McDonald capped a comeback from a 24-7 deficit with a 52-yard bomb from Bulger. But I was also at the game when the Seahawks charged back from a 23-10 deficit to win 24-23 on a Koren Robinson TD. There are so many new faces on both sides, that it would seem the rivalry is set to begin anew. Perhaps, we’ll see a barn-burner on Sunday to rekindle the flame.
RG: Matt Hasselback is about 700 years old. Is he holding it together?
Can he still be an above average QB in the NFL anymore? The Rams
have success rushing the passer against immobile QBs because they know
which spot to aim for, does Hasselback still have the quick release?
HB: Don’t mistake being follicly-challenged for old age. Yes, he’s suffered through some injury-plagued seasons the last two years, but he’s just 35. Rich Gannon won the MVP at 37, and I’m sure you don’t need a list of the QBs over 35 years old that have played championship-level football over the past decade. More than age, it’s the supporting cast around Matt that has been an issue. This was a team with very little talent, very little height and a horrible offensive line. I think you’ll see that has changed. Most people would not have picked the Seahawks to be 2-1 at this point, but nobody would have picked them to be 2-1 with Matt playing two subpar games. For the first time in a long time, this team can win when Matt’s not perfect. He still absolutely has the ability, but he has not shown it consistently thus far in 2010. As much as I am really impressed with Sam Bradford, Hasselbeck is still the best QB in the division by a decent amount. That may change as early as next year.
RG: The Seahawks uncovered and dusted off the long gone relic that is
Mike Williams and he has started off the year on the right foot. Does
it seem like he can keep it up and give the Rams secondary fits? Who
else in the wide receiver corps has stepped up?
HB: Mike Williams is a Pro Bowler waiting to happen. I don’t say that to be cute or a homer. He can be a nightmare for teams with undersized corners. If he hadn’t hurt his shoulder in last week’s game, I would have picked him to have a breakout game this Sunday. It’s coming. You will see a few crooked numbers in a future Seahawks box score next to his name. As bullish as I am on Williams, he has not been as involved as I expect in the game plan. He hasn’t been targeted enough, and that’s partly due to our new coordinator’s focus on multiple tight end sets. John Carlson is the guy they want to establish, but he has been up and down so far. The player you probably have never heard of is Deon Butler. He’s a little guy with sub 4.3 speed that is the most improved player on the team, according to Pete Carroll. His best routes are running away from defensive backs on crossing patterns. Golden Tate is also a guy who can impress. He is more of a backyard football kind of route runner, so getting open isn’t his strength. Once he gets the ball, though, he doesn’t like to go down. You will likely grow to hate him over the next 5+ years.
Thanks for the questions, and enjoy watching your franchise QB develop! I hate to say it, but the future is bright for the Rams.