NFC West: Chris Gocong
- All's quiet against Joe Thomas. The Browns' Pro Bowl left tackle operated with quiet efficiency against a long list of Seattle defenders. Red Bryant, Raheem Brock, Chris Clemons, K.J. Wright and others went against Thomas without making much headway. Brock came closest to beating Thomas around the corner. Finding another pass-rusher to pair with Clemons will presumably be a priority for Seattle in the offseason.
- Whitehurst had man open. The Seahawks settled for a field goal after having first-and-goal from the 9 and another first-and-goal from the 2 during a critical stretch late in the third quarter. Quarterback Charlie Whitehurst threw away the ball on one play despite having tight end Cameron Morrah open in his field of vision. Pressure on the play forced the decision to throw away the ball, but in looking at the play, this appeared to be a missed opportunity. It seemed like a touch pass would have worked here.
- Zach Miller badly, badly missed. With Miller sidelined by a concussion, John Carlson on injured reserve and Morrah just returning from injury, the Seahawks relied heavily on Anthony McCoy at tight end. They paid a high price. McCoy dropped multiple passes. He missed a blitzing Chris Gocong, leading to a sack. The Seahawks hope to get Miller back this week. They need him. The team's relative strength at wide receiver and depth issues at tight end show up in personnel charting. Seattle has run only 84 plays with two tight ends this season, the third-lowest total in the NFL, according to ESPN Stats & Information. The rest of the league averages 143 such snaps.
- Rough game for wideouts. Seattle's wide receivers had not dropped a single pass heading into this game, according to ESPN Stats & Information. Ben Obomanu and Doug Baldwin dropped passes Sunday. Throw in McCoy's two drops and Seattle suffered four in this game, one more than in the previous five games combined. Whitehurst targeted wide receivers 15 times, completing only four through a combination of errant throws and drops. Seattle had been much better in the passing game recently and I suspect they will be much better in the future. This was an unusually horrible game on that front.
- Offensive line depth tested. The Seahawks have sought to upgrade their depth along the offensive line. They seem to be succeeding. Seattle went into this game with 24-year-old former undrafted free agent Lemuel Jeanpierre at center. Jeanpierre was making his first career start. His presence in the lineup wasn't a big deal going into the game or coming out of the game. That is a good sign. The Seahawks have been willing to continually churn their roster on the line. Tyler Polumbus was at least serviceable as a spot starter at tackle last season, but the team released him because Jarriel King, claimed off waivers from the New York Giants, has more upside. The team is also getting healthier up front, making it easier to carry fewer linemen on the roster.
It's looking like I'll be following the San Francisco 49ers quite a bit in the second half of the season. First, though, I'll be at CenturyLink Field for the Seahawks' game against the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 8. Here's hoping the teams combine for more than nine points.
Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando
The premise: Criminal profilers develop rich character sketches to help identify unknown suspects. Couldn't we use similar tactics, though vastly simplified, to anticipate how NFL teams might view college prospects? With your help, I think we can do some amateur profiling of teams and their general managers.
In focus: Rams general manager Billy Devaney and the linebackers his teams have drafted since 1994.
Would the Rams consider drafting Wake Forest linebacker Aaron Curry with the second overall choice this year? An offensive tackle appears more likely in that slot, at least in my view, but new coach Steve Spagnuolo also needs to strengthen the Rams' defense.
The chart shows every linebacker Devaney's teams have drafted since 1994, ranked by how early his teams selected the linebackers. Seven of the top 11 were from teams currently affiliated with the SEC and ACC (all conference listing reflect current affiliations).
Devaney's teams selected none of the 14 higher than 47th overall. Going back further, Devaney was with the Chargers in 1990 when they selected Junior Seau with the fifth overall choice. Also going back to 1990, Devaney's teams have selected three linebackers from North Carolina A&T: Michael Hamilton (74th overall in 1997), Kevin Little (131st in 1992) and Toran James (218th in 1997).
Spagnuolo, meanwhile, was with Philadelphia as linebackers coach when the team selected five linebackers, all in 2005 and 2006. One of them, fifth-round choice Trent Cole, became a pass-rushing defensive end. The others: Chris Gocong, Omar Gaither, Matt McCoy and David Bergeron. The Eagles drafted none earlier than 63rd overall (McCoy, 2005). Gocong was the 71st player chosen in 2006. The others were 146th or later.
The Rams waited until the seventh round before selecting a linebacker last year. They will almost surely draft one earlier this year. The team also might need a starting receiver. The defensive line could also use reinforcements even though St. Louis has used high picks for Chris Long and Adam Carriker in recent seasons.
Steve Muench of Scouts Inc. is going to help us fill in the gaps on which college players might fit our profile.
Muench on the Rams and a linebacker: They might fill that in the middle rounds because Spagnuolo can coach them up. We should look for guys who can pressure the QB. That is why they might take an end, because they might want to build their pressure.
The linebacker I was looking at for the Rams was Jason Phillips from TCU. They had a great defense at TCU. He's a middle linebacker, team leader, blue-collar kind of guy. He is not the most athletic guy to match up in coverage, but he is fast, so he can blitz. He has a torn meniscus in his left knee that could scare some teams, but I don't think it's an issue at all. He is so smart that I think he will pick it up anyway.
I think Spagnuolo would love a kid like that. Maybe play him behind Chris Draft for a year, if that. He could play situationally on third down. He is going to spend all that down time [while rehabbing the knee] in his playbook and the film room. The other thing that is interesting about the inside linebacker class, unless they trade out, they don't really have a good option in the first tw