Friday, July 17, 2009

Is Mebane up to the task?

by: Chris Sullivan

If you've been reading the blog for awhile, it's no secret to you that Brandon Mebane is among my favorite players in the league. While he's not the perfect DT yet, the strides he has made since being thrust into the starting role in his rookie season have been substantial. In 2008, Mebane played in the nose tackle role and was very effective at gobbling up two blockers while also leading the team in sacks. Mike Clark, Seahawks strength and condition coach, spoke with Brock and Salk yesterday (audio link, check in at about the mid-way point), and singled out Mebane as needing to be "kidnapped" to get him out of the workout room.

It seems that Mebane is slimming down a hair and getting much stronger in anticipation of his role at three-technique tackle. Mebane has been strong but his main strength is his quick first step. He's very explosive and if he's left one on one there are very few guards that are going to be able to stop him consistently. Much of his 2009 success will be tied up in the Colin Cole experiment -- if Cole can consistently take on two blockers, he's going to leave Mebane free to disrupt the backfield.

Sando, another Mebane believer, points out that "[t]he team has turned him into more of an up-the-field defensive tackle. That should give him an opportunity to get more sacks as the Seahawks implement more of the Tampa principles that helped free up Warren Sapp." Now, it's a bit early to be comparing Brandon Mebane to Warren Sapp, but it's not such a far stretch. Mebane, unlike Sapp, was underutilized in college and was still a star on a Pac 10 team.

One of the keys of the 2009 season is going to be the play of the defensive line. In 2008, the line was nothing short of awful. We have sent Rocky Bernard off to pasture and added bulk in the front four with hybrid end/tackle Cory Redding and half-man, half-laundromat Colin Cole. The entire defense is going to hinge on the ability to get pressure on opposing quarterbacks. With Kerney battling to stay healthy through a full season, and both Tapp and Jackson having some question marks, the ability to pressure the QB rests largely on the massive shoulders of Brandon Mebane. Is he up to the task? You know my answer, what do you guys think?