KAZ’S KORNER – NFL Teams scrambling to emulate Seahawks defense
If there’s one thing a lop-sided upset in a Super Bowl does, it’s getting the attention of the other 28 National Football League teams.
That’s exactly what has been happening ever since the underdog Seattle Seahawks strapped a gigantic 43-8 hickey on the heavily-favored Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XLVIII on the first Sunday of February.
Ever since ™The Legion of Boom∫ did such a masterful job of completely stifling Peyton Manning’s potent offense, many teams have been drafting and trading for huge physical cornerbacks which, according to Athlon Sports 2014 NFL Preview, was the key to Seattle’s domination of the Broncos.
™At a time when football is as complicated as tax law, the Seahawks eliminate a lot of the mystery. See those big guys on the outside? They’re going to be on your receivers all game long, punishing them for even thinking about running pass patterns,∫ the article points out.
™Anybody at the wide-out position who wants to succeed against Richard Sherman, Byron Maxwell and the rest of those oversized cornerbacks had better get rid of the drama and put on some coveralls. It’s time to go to work,∫ the article continues.
The aggressiveness of the extra-large cornerbacks comes because of the play of All-Pro free safety Earl Thomas and 6-3, 232-pound strong safety Kam Chancellor. Athlon rates Orange native Thomas as ™the best in the league at closing on the ball and specializes in protecting Seattle cornerbacks on deep balls.
™Thomas’ tremendous football skills give the Seahawks’ corners the perfect support for their rugged ways at the line of scrimmage. If someone were to beat Sherman or Maxwell, it was unlikely they would get past Thomas.
™You need no reason beyond that to explain why the team signed the safety to a four-year, $40 million ($27.725 million guaranteed) extension in April,∫ the article concluded.
™Part of what goes into all of this is our play at safety,∫ pointed out Seahawks’ defensive coordinator Dan Quinn. ™They stay over the top well, and if you have a guy like Earl in the middle of the field who can get to deep-thrown balls, you’re in pretty good shape.∫
The manner in which The Legion of Boom manhandled the Broncos with their aggressive cornerbacks triggered a league-wide expedition for larger, tougher cornerbacks.
™That’s why players like Utah’s Keith McGill were so popular at February’s Scouting Combine,∫ the Athlon article revealed. ™The 6-3 converted safety earned honorable mention All-Pac-12 notice as a senior and wasn’t a favorite of draft analysts during the 2013 season.
™Once the Seahawks showed what larger corners could do, McGill became a lot more popular. He ran a 4.51 and had a vertical leap of 39 inches, but his best attribute, and the thing that made him so attractive, was his success in press coverage during the season.
™Even though he wasn’t taken until the fifth round, the fact that McGill’s name was mentioned so often in the run-up to the draft indicated how important his size was,∫ the article concluded.
™Everybody would like to get longer, taller guys that run 4.4,∫ Seattle head coach Pete Carroll told ESPN. ™But there are just not many humans like that in the world, you know. So it’s rare when you find them and then you have to develop the guys. The perfect guys are not there because there are not tall, exceedingly fast guys.
™So you have to make those guys come to life in your coaching and how you adapt your style and your ability to fit it,∫ Carroll concluded.
Carroll has done a pretty nifty job so far by drafting or trading for big physical guys to play in the Seahawks’ defensive secondary. Don’t bet against his theory working again for the 2014 NFL season.
KWICKIES…If you check the major league baseball standings during this All-Star break, you’ll be surprised to find out that our Houston Astros aren’t the worst team in the majors. In fact they aren’t even the worst team in the American League or even in the AL West Division, thanks to the Texas Rangers. The Astros’ 40-56 record is nothing to do cartwheels about, but this is the first time they went into the break with 40 victories since 2009 when they won 44 games before the break. Houston didn’t reach their 40th win last season until Aug. 16, so it seems evident they are doing better this season than the last three which resulted in more than 100 losses. In fact they have to finish the season worst than 23-43 to reach 100 losses.
And while on the topic of the Astros, let’s look at their ONLY player to make the American League All-Star team–second baseman Jose Altuve, whose statistics should have earned him the start at second base. All Altuve has done so far this season is lead the major leagues with 130 hits and 40 multi-hit games, making him just the second player in major league history to have more than 125 hits and 40 stolen bases. Altuve also leads the American League with 29 doubles and with his 41 stolen bases gives him the biggest combination of hits and stolen bases before the All-Star game in major league history. Former Astros player and executive Bob Watson presented Altuve with a bat to commemorate Altuve’s breaking of Watson’s franchise record for hits before the All-Star break (123). Coincidentally, Altuve wears Watson’s old uniform number 27.
Brian Harman won his first PGA Tour title, the John Deere Classic last weekend, using three straight birdies on the final five holes to nip veteran Zach Johnson by one stroke. Harman had a five-under-par 66 in the final round for a 22-under 262 to capture the $846,000 first-place money along with the last exemption for next week’s British Open.
Germany reigns supreme in the world of soccer, winning the World Cup as 22-year-old Mario Goetze scored the winning goal near the end of regulation time to defeat Argentina 1-0 Sunday.
After missing out on four desperate attempts to sign a big-time free agent, the Houston Rockets settled on wooing 6-8 Washington Wizards’ free agent Trevor Ariza and coming to an agreement on a four-year, $32 million contract. The Rockets went after LeBron James and lost him to Cleveland, Carmelo Anthony, who opted to remain in New York, Chris Bosh who chose to stay in Miami and Chandler Parsons, who signed with the Dallas Mavs.
JUST BETWEEN US…In a little more than a week Houston Texans fans will find out whether the rumor about All-Pro wide receiver Andre Johnson not playing anymore for the Texans is true or not. Just about every news flash about his status has him demanding a trade to a playoff-bound team or one with a ™big-name quarterback.∫ What makes it sound real is the fact Johnson gets a $1 million ™workout bonus∫ if he participates in the off-season program, which he has done every year but refused to do this spring. Johnson is miffed that the Texans didn’t draft or trade for a quarterback that could get them back into the playoffs, but instead chose to ™rebuild∫ for a championship team three or four years down the road. At 33-years-old, Johnson can see the writing on the wall, with his chances of getting another opportunity to participate in the playoffs with Houston are nearly nil. But the writer who covers the Houston Texans beat for the Houston Chronicle boldly predicted in last Friday’s edition that Johnson isn’t going anywhere and when he finally reports, will be the same old hard-working Andre Johnson that Texans fans are accustomed to watching and appreciating.