I think Pete Carroll put a lot of stock in Tom Cable's opinion this year and it seems to be paying off.
Cable was instrumental in the decision to draft James Carpenter and John Moffitt and I have to believe that he had a lot of say in bringing over Zach Miller and Robert Gallery from Oakland, where Cable coached both players.
I think it's fair to say that the jury is still out on Gallery and Miller, but the rookies are starting to look really good. Up until Moffitt went down with a knee injury last week, he was starting to understand "who to get and how to get 'em," as Chuck Knox used to say. Carpenter has been seen delivering some devastating blocks and doing an adequate job on the edge protecting the quarterback.
Mostly, I think Cable knows how to run the ball in the NFL and understands the importance of pounding the rock. Over the last five years, Cable-coached offenses have averaged 140 yards per game on the ground, ranking in the top-10 in four of those years.
Last week Bob and Groz and I interviewed Cable on The Huddle and he has a real presence about him that's hard to explain. I can only tell you that I've been around a lot of coaches, from Knox to Tom Flores to Mike Holmgren, and Cable definitely has that "it" factor.
There's a certain aura about him that makes me think I'd love to play for him and that I'd follow him into battle. The way he answers questions and what he says about the game of football has a way of commanding your respect.
If the Hawks can plug either Lemuel Jeanpierre (The fighting Frenchman) or Paul McQuistan into Moffitt's spot at right guard and continue to get results running the ball, that will cement my opinion of Cable as a really good coach.
Pass defense improving
Early on in the season, my main gripe with the defense was the way they played zone pass coverage.
Zone defense means that players drop to a spot on the field, get their eyes on the quarterback, and react to his throwing motion. If you don't play it correctly, however, zone defense can mean you're just covering a piece of dirt (or synthetic grass and little chunks of rubber) instead of pass catchers.
I was taught that once you drop to your spot, you must look up receivers and "crowd" them within your zone. The Hawks have done that lately and it's paid off statistically. Going back to the Hawks' big road win over the Giants, defenders like Kam Chancellor and David Hawthorne have knocked down passes and even caught some, too. In the last five games, the Seahawks defense has deflected 31 passes and collected seven interceptions.
The down side is that they've also collected a number of pass interference penalties, but I don't mind a team that errs on the side of aggressiveness as long as it pays off. It's paid off.
The St. Louis Rams are Steven Jackson's team
After Week 4 of this season, I looked at St. Louis' record and statistics and thought, "What a terrible team." By the time the Rams' bye week rolled around they were 0-4 and every talk radio station in the country was speculating whether the Rams would draft Andrew Luck and trade Sam Bradford or just trade their No.1 pick.
It didn't help that everyone and their mother had picked the Rams to win the NFC West in the preseason. But since the bye week, this team is different from the team it was those first four weeks, especially in the last three games.
It started with the Rams' surprise win over New Orleans in Week 8. Had Drew Brees not thrown a touchdown pass with 10 seconds left in the game to make the score 31-21, that game would've ended a lopsided blowout.
Then they lost to Arizona in OT with a crazy punt return by Cardinals rookie Patrick Peterson and last week they beat the Browns in Cleveland, something the Seahawks couldn't do. By NFC West standards, the St. Louis Rams are hot right now.
Much of the reason is the play of a healthy Steven Jackson. Here's how Jackson's season has gone so far: On his first carry of the season and the Rams' first play from scrimmage, Jackson went 47 yards for a touchdown. His second carry yielded him nine yards and a blown hamstring. He missed the rest of that game and the next.
Since their bye week in early October, Jackson has carried the ball 117 times for 583 yards. In spite of missing two games, he's the No. 9 rusher in the entire NFL. As the kids would say, he's a beast. Old men like me just call him a really good football player who is the heart and soul of the St. Louis Rams.
Job one for the Seahawks defense will be to keep Jackson under 100 yards.