That was a really nice first pre-season game. The team looked surprisingly far along for their first game.
Me Likey Mike Solari
My game ball goes to Mike Solari who appeared to have more impact on the outcome than anyone else. I saw some run blocking techniques that were clearly different than what I've seen in the past. On Mo Mo's first big run, you saw the Hawks' guards giving ground and turning their players to the outside. There was far less drive blocking that depends largely on the offensive lineman outplaying their man. Rob Sims actually looked like he knew what he was doing. The one thing Sims and Spencer (DNP) can do consistently is run. They are among the fastest lineman we have had on the Hawks. Using that speed by having them pull is an obvious way to use that speed. On the first run of the Hawks' second series, Sims looked like a tight end releasing 5 yards down the field before sealing two defenders inside so Morris could continue his 20+ yard run. Speed is going to be a key measure of the Hawks running game this year. They looked fast today. If we see them trying to play smash mouth, I don't think it will be nearly as effective.
My first two observations on are about the o-line. That won't happen too often.Vallos played a fantastic game. We have seen bad center play, and what we've seen from Spencer looks even worse after the game Vallos played. You can not understate what the kid accomplished. No bad snaps. No sacks given up. At least a couple good blocks on running plays. He was mostly invisible, which is remarkable for a guy who never played center before this training camp that was going up against a monster line in Minnesota. What feels like a nice performance now, may eventually be remembed as the start of Steve Vallos' career.
Who knew the guy could catch? I was knocked out of my mid-game stupor by a quick kid coming out of the backfield making a couple of catches and plowing ahead for big gains. Schmidt looked very comfortable catching the ball cleanly and turning upfield. He was a solid blocker as well. This guy is too good for the practice squad. Bye Bye David Kirtman. I also started wondering what TJ Duckett brings that Weaver and Schmidt can't provide. Of course, I've wondered that from the start...
We hear it every year: Seneca Wallace has matured and is having a great camp. This might be the first year I haven't read much about that, and ironically, he looked more like an NFL QB than ever before. Wallace has had good games before, but he looked in total command on Friday. No forced passes. Passes right on the money. Good tempo. Nice game.
Wow. That is a game that will be remembered for a while. I think the Vikings players are still seeing stars. The buzz about this kid is growing, and what seemed like a potential practice squad find is moving solidly into the roster discussion, and could soon be playing himself into a LB rotation. That might seem a little far-fetched now, but this guy is not just a big hitter. He was all over the field making solid tackles. I found myself wondering if he can play outside with LeRoy Hill likely playing his last season in blue before free agency.
This guy is the starter opposite Kearney. It's not even close. I admit to being skeptical based on what I had read about Jackson, but he is a solid run defender and was pressuring the QB all night. Tapp is a situational guy, and a good one.
Really? Jason Babin? The guy who we traded Michael Boulware for, and who sat on his butt all season, made a number of eye-opening plays. Most surprising to me was how he played against the run. He made at least two plays behind the line and pressured the QB regularly. The guy looks like a safety playing defensive end. He's tiny. He did stand out though.
And, finally, a fantastic pickup late last year...HOG (HOward Green). The guy is 320lbs of constant movement that occupies at least two blockers. He clogs the running lanes and pressures the passer. He also, apparently, can pick off passes.
Was that Joe Morris out there? Short, tough and fast. Add him to the list of reasons Julius Jones and TJ Duckett were a major waste of cash. He runs tougher than either of them and reads blocks like a champ.
I'm not going to waste time worrying about Tru. He played like crap. He'll be fine. He's not a guy who rests on his laurels after a big contract...right?
Ugh. Such a waste of money. Two fumbles. No unique value. It's going to take a series of positive contributions for my tune to change on this one.
Obamanu and Taylor
Aren't these guys supposed to be battling for a spot in the 4-wr rotation? I heard more from Joe Filani and Trent Shelton in this game. These guys should be *owning* pre-season football if they have any hope of impacting the regular season.