Robust debate is always best
It was brought to my attention this week that I was called an arse hole by Nathan Ernst during an episode of ‘Real Hawk Talk‘. The two people co-hosting appeared to agree.
My crime, at least in this instance, was to post a YouTube video revealing what I thought was a lack of effort from Jamal Adams and Bobby Wagner on a handful of plays, while highlighting their combined average salaries are $35.5m a year.
Not being one to let a barb like that lie, I felt obliged to write a response.
Firstly, I’ve disagreed plenty of times with the Hawkblogger crew. I’ve said as much on some streams or comments — or I’ve tweeted them directly (especially Brian). I like to think it’s always presented as argument vs argument — even if some of those challenges are robust. I always think you’re better off just cutting to the chase — although I’ll happily admit that striking the right tone in 220 characters is not a strong point for me and I’m a better ‘debater’ as a talker.
Ernst used a slightly different debating tactic here, opting for the two-word (rather than one-fingered) salute. He justified it by suggesting it was outrageous to question effort (seemingly ever) because these players play a particularly physical sport professionally. He ended by telling me to ‘shut the hell up’.
So in the case of Wagner — if a player has an excellent career, good enough to earn a deal worth $17-20m on the cap — you’re never allowed to question their effort on certain plays simply because of the sport they are playing? Even if what you see on tape points you in that direction?
It’s basically putting a shield around the players.
The thing is — let’s say I’d simply used the word ‘performance’ instead of ‘effort’ in the video. If I’d said — ‘is this performance good enough?’ and then shown the clips, does it really make any difference? The evidence implies a lack of effort. That would be the conclusion you’d come to watching the plays.
I don’t think this is a taboo subject. You can both admire the warrior-like achievements of players and then question whether their effort matches their salary down the line.
I don’t watch all-22 tape very often. I did go back and watch Wagner in particular for multiple games and I noticed a trend that he was hesitant on plays. He seemed to be avoiding contact a lot more than I expected to see.
He was not playing with urgency. There’s one play against Jacksonville for example, which isn’t in the video, where he’s reading a bootleg, sees it’s a carry to the opposite side (no PA). He’s peaking at the ball carrier. There’s a lineman who peels to the second level to make a block. Wagner can still see a clear route to the ball-carrier yet he just stands there. You watch it and think, what’s the thought process here?
Here’s one from the last game. Is it wrong to expect a bit more from a player earning $17,150,000?
Run game vs. SEA — Production on perimeter/edge schemes.
— Matt Bowen (@MattBowen41) November 30, 2021
I don’t think Wagner is a bad player. I do think his play has regressed, I think there are increasing instances on tape where he avoids contact (for whatever reason) and I don’t think you can justify — in any way, shape or form — his 2022 cap hit of $20m.
I also know there are people who understand football a lot more than I do who feel the same way.
No name-calling from me in response. I’ve have had two members of that show on my streams. We’ve not always agreed on everything but we’ve been able to have mature, detailed discussions which, in my opinion, were as good as any Seahawks content available on the internet.
Robust debate may just get us all through the difficult next few months (or it’ll make us all hate each other, one or the other).
Thoughts on two 2022 pass rushers
In the continued search to find out more about the upcoming draft class, I spent time today studying South Carolina’s Kingsley Enagbare and San Diego State’s Cameron Thomas.
Enagbare reminds me of a bigger Yannick Ngakoue. He runs the same move — engaging with his hands, hopping to the side then thrashing out a chop/swim to disengage.
There is a size difference. Enagbare is listed at 265lbs and Ngakoue was 252lbs at his combine. Their body types are different and it’s not a physical comparison. It’s more how they play.
Enagbare doesn’t have top-end speed off the edge but neither did Ngakoue (4.75 forty, 4.50 short shuttle). What he does have is great hand use. He can dip and rip to win at the edge. He uses the push/pull effectively. He times inside moves nicely and he knows how to create pressure and keep himself clean by using his hands.
That alone should earn him a chance to succeed in the NFL. It’s just whether he has enough speed to really challenge NFL blockers.
His speed/power move lacks polish and he often gets tied up in the block. His production is modest — 4.5 sacks in 12 games and seven TFL’s. It’ll be interesting to see how he tests.
I didn’t see a player worthy of some of the top grades people are offering online but that’s starting to feel like the norm with this class. Enagbare is another player who appears destined to be the type of player you’d love to take a chance on during day two but without great testing, it’ll be difficult to bang the table for him any earlier. Lots of potential — but someone you perhaps will ‘like’ not ‘love’.
Cameron Thomas does have the big production this year (20 TFL’s, 10.5 sacks). He’s 6-5 and 270lbs and he does a terrific job when he lines up inside or delivers a stunt. He has a great swim move and shows good hand usage.
He’s incredibly powerful and seems to understand leverage. He has a knack of having bursts of splash plays. In one game I watched, he basically ended the first two drives single-handed by bossing his way into the backfield by combining technical quality with his hands and using speed to finish when the opening emerged.
The one question I have is whether he has a speed rush off the edge. It doesn’t look like he has the club in the bag. That’s the thing that stops you falling for him. His power inside and technical skill are great points — but he’s too small to make a permanent switch to tackle, I’m not sold on him being a 5-tech and he’s going to line up as a power end who reduces inside sometimes.
To pitch him in round one you’d need to see that burst — that raw speed. And it never really comes. There’s a lot to like with Thomas and his production is really impressive in 2021. The difference between him being a day two pick and a first will be testing.
A quick note on the Blazers firing their GM
I wouldn’t read too much into Vulcan Sports making a big call in Portland. There may be similarities between the Blazers and Seahawks but there are also big differences.
I will say this though. Increasingly it feels, to me at least, like there’s some clarity on what is developing here…
1. I think this will be Pete Carroll’s last year. I don’t see him launching what could be a long rebuild, especially given the 2017 reports that he was considering retirement even before the previous reset. I think this will be his final season and despite everything going on now, he will depart a hero.
2. I think if John Schneider stays, he will be of the mind to trade Russell Wilson for picks. I think the aim will be to acquire a young ‘stop-gap’ quarterback in return, as a new search is launched for a long term answer. Yet I also think the Seahawks will ‘be in on any conversation’ for the other veteran quarterbacks available — namely Aaron Rodgers (who, according to Jason La Canfora, has a connection to Schneider due to the Green Bay links). Schneider only signed a new deal last off-season so unless he prefers a change of scenery, ownership might prefer to defer to him as they embark on a post-Carroll era.
3. It’ll be up to Jody Allen and co to decide whether they want to fall in behind Wilson and move on from both Carroll and Schneider (Wilson may prefer a fresh start anyway, making this a moot point). I think the Saints are going to find it difficult to jump into the veteran QB market this off-season and that might nudge Sean Payton to another club — as has been rumoured in the recent past on more than one occasion. A bold move like that could satisfy Wilson and the fan base — and it’s the kind of move you could imagine Paul Allen making — but admittedly it seems overly ambitious today.
4. If Wilson does depart — the Giants and Eagles seem like obvious destinations given their haul of picks in 2022 and the ability to throw in a young quarterback. The only problem is — neither are in range to offer a top-two pick to get one of the elite DE’s and it could mean you’re picking twice among a pool of players similar to the top-end of the 2013 draft (if not worse). You could always trade both picks to move up for Kayvon Thibodeaux or Aidan Hutchinson — but that would be a big move.
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