Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Housh a deep threat?

by: Aaron Weinberg

Housh is going to the Pro Bowl - he already told us that. But does he have the skills to drastically outshine Seattle's deep WR corps enough so that he can accumulate the kind of numbers typical of Pro Bowlers?

Afterall, there is a 20 year curse on the position, which hasn't been to a Pro Bowl in nearly two decades.

It can be blamed on the piss-poor 90's teams and Holmgren's penchant for spreading the ball, which isn't likely to change a lot with Greg Knapp at the helm.

Here's something I wrote in March as part of a series analyzing Houshmandzadeh's skill set. Original story.

Wide Receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh said he's more than a possession receiver, something he's been dubbed by pundits and fans alike, during a live NFL.com interview.

"I think I"m a complete receiver -- I can do whatever a coach wants me to do," Houshmandzadeh said.

While used primarily as a possession receiver in Cincinnati, Houshmandzadeh proved on a few occasions that he can also burn a safety for a deep touchdown.

Seahawks fans may remember Houshmandzadeh's trip to Qwest Field in 2007, a game where Seattle narrowly pulled off the victory in the closing two minutes of the fourth quarter. He led the game in reception yards, racking up 141 yards and a touchdown. Click the photo to enlarge, and yes I admit these screen shots aren't very good. Hopefully my explanations below breathe some sense into them.

While Houshmandzadeh crosses shallow with the third receiver, Chad Johnson stretches the field to the left. This provides Houshmandzadeh with enough distance between him and safety Deon Grant to catch QB Carson Palmer's under thrown pass, then motor into the end zone for a 35-yard touchdown.

On to the infamous tie game of 2008.

Houshmandzadeh and the third receiver cross to the left sideline, but Houshmandzadeh crosses back in to run the deep out and in, ending up toward the middle of the field. Despite two defenders near him, Houshmandzadeh runs past both of them and reaches up for the 26-yard touchdown catch.
What I saw while analyzing the tape proved that Housh has enough speed and route running skills to separate from the defenders. He also utilizes his size and strength during 1 on 1 situations a la Larry Fitzgerald (And if Fitz proved anything, it's that you don't need blistering speed to get the deep ball.) However, he didn't go deep very often with the Bengals.

Obviously Housh was the benefactor of playing opposite Ocho Cinco - I'm not going to tell you he can lead a team like Fitzgerald can. But, after viewing the limited game tape of Housh going deep, it's evident he has a wider skill set than the Bengal's coaching staff would've led you to be believe after using him primarily as a possession guy.

Still, one thing you'll never see from Houshmandzadeh is him catching a 60-yard touchdown bomb after burning the entire secondary for the majority length of the field. He just doesn't have the speed to accomplish something like that. So in that respect, he isn't a true deep threat.

I'll show you what I learned from more game tape later this week, including his blocking abilities and short routes (he's good.)