Lost this week, among the reports concerning Chicago Bears perennial Pro-Bowl linebacker Brian Urlacher's season-ending injury, was the news of Leroy Hill's lost season to an unspecified groin injury.
Yes, the very same Leroy Hill that just received a $38 million contract just months ago.
Hill will be out at least until November, and currently the team is considering season-ending surgery. Will Herring, Hill's backup, entered the game as Hill came out, and played well, though this should offer little consolation since the Seahawks already had the game in hand, and, after all, were playing the Rams. It remains to be seen how Herring will progress through the season.
Coach Jim Mora: Please listen to me a moment, as I believe that I have the solution. I propose a two-man rotation at strong-side linebacker that doesn't even involve Herring.
On running downs, bring the heat. That's right—David "Heater" Hawthorne, a moniker given to him by teammate Lofa Tatupu for his punishing hits. I'd let him loose, simply telling him to hit the ball carrier. Hard.
On passing downs, give 'em Reed. Nick Reed made a name for himself during the preseason, recording 3.5 sacks and an interception. There was no denying that the kid has a motor, as well as the will to get to the quarterback; hell, he fought his way into necessitating eleven roster spots for the defensive line. I'd let him loose as well, simply asking him to get to the quarterback. Fast.
The biggest knock on Hawthorne is that he may not have the instincts necessary to play NFL linebacker. That he may not have the ability to read the play. If these are the biggest concerns, I say eliminate them. Give him one job: hit the running back.
The biggest knock on Reed is his size. At 6'1" and 247 pounds, he's extremely small for a defensive end. At 6'1" and 247 pounds, with the type of speed he has, he's perfect as a linebacker. Give him one job, get to the quarterback.
When Aaron Curry was brought to Seattle, it was so that there could be another second-level defender alongside Lofa Tatupu, allowing Hill to resume the role he filled quite well in his rookie year, putting up eight sacks and two forced fumbles.
I believe that rotating these two young men would fill that role quite nicely.