Early thoughts on the Seahawks / Patriots Super Bowl

A lot of the media talk will be about stopping Marshawn Lynch, but for me this game is about Russell Wilson. Let’s go back to the last time the two teams met. Lynch ran 15 times for 41 yards. Robert Turbin was Seattle’s most efficient runner with 27 yards on five carries (5.4 YPC). The Pats were facing a rookie quarterback and set out to take away the run, putting the game on Wilson. He willed the Seahawks to victory with a 310 total-yard, three touchdown performance with zero interceptions.

That was then and this is now — but the Pats first and foremost know they have to deal with Lynch and the running game all over again. They’ll study the games where Seattle struggled offensively. Green Bay at home in the NFC Championship game. The Dallas game in week six. Last year against the Cardinals. It was the same plan on each occasion — sell out to stop the run, commit extra bodies to attack the line of scrimmage and dare Wilson to beat you. It’s a risky strategy because the quarterback in a situation like this should be able to find a hot read or exploit 1v1 coverage at the second level. In the Green Bay game Wilson and the receivers struggled early, they turned the ball over and the Packers took the early initiative. New England will almost certainly set out to do the same.

Wilson isn’t at his best firing quick throws from the pocket against the blitz. Not yet, anyway. It’s year three and it’s taking him a little longer to excel in this area. It probably doesn’t help that his natural tendency — and Seattle’s coaches encourage this — is to get out of the pocket to initiate the scramble drill. When you’ve got so many bodies attacking the line, if you break contain it pretty much opens up the whole field. You’ve got the run/pass option going for the quarterback. Arizona (2013), Dallas and Green Bay (2014) all managed to contain Wilson in the pocket with their pressures. Keeping a lid on him could be the key to the game for New England. They need to force him to beat them with his arm, in the pocket under pressure. He can do it. It’ll just be much harder. Especially if the Pats successfully shut down Lynch as they did in 2012.

The Seahawks need early success in the passing game to force the Pats into heavier coverage. They consistently rushed three or four defenders against Green Bay — fearing Rodgers’ arm. He picked them apart. And sure, it’s Aaron Rodgers. But he had an insane amount of time in the pocket — and Wilson, like most competent starters, will be able to exploit that. He won’t get a chance if he doesn’t take away the stacked boxes and lack of respect for the passing game by making a few early throws or runs to force the Patriots to be a little more conservative.

One thing that might work against New England is their general lack of exposure to a quarterback like Wilson. In 2014 the most mobile quarterback they faced was Ryan Tannehill (twice). For all his mobility and running skill as a former receiver, Tannehill isn’t a scrambler. He ran six times in the two games against New England. In a week one victory (33-20) he had three carries for -2 yards.

Here are the other quarterbacks New England faced in 2014:

Matt Cassel (Minnesota), Derek Carr (Oakland), Alex Smith (Kansas City), Andy Dalton (Cincinnati), Kyle Orton (Buffalo — twice), Geno Smith (New York Jets — twice), Jay Cutler (Chicago), Peyton Manning (Denver), Andrew Luck (Indianapolis), Matt Stafford (Detroit), Aaron Rodgers (Green Bay), San Diego (Phillip Rivers).

Now obviously Luck and Rodgers are mobile — they’re certainly more elusive in the pocket than Tannehill. But neither is the same kind of runner (Tannehill reportedly ran a 4.58 at his pro-day) and they don’t run the read option much if at all. You have to go back to 2013 for the last time New England faced a true read-option scheme — when they lost to the Panthers and Cam Newton. It was a controversial defeat in the end, but Newton was effective running the ball (seven carries for 62 yards).

Again — New England did a good job bottling up the running game in general. Mike Tolbert had six carries for 17 yards, DeAngelo williams had six carries for 14 yards and Jonathan Stewart had four carries for ten yards. They had a plan for the running backs. But they couldn’t contain Newton — who moved around not only for his rushing yards — but for 209 passing yards and three touchdowns too. He didn’t turn the ball over.

The focus is on Lynch or Seattle’s receivers winning against Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner. The greatest threat to New England is probably Wilson — as a scrambler, a runner and a pure playmaker.

Jamie Collins might be challenged with keeping an eye on Wilson, which could also work in Seattle’s favor. Collins has developed into a terrific, creative linebacker. He’ll line up inside and rush the interior. He can cover as well as any linebacker in the game. And he rushes the edge well enough to collect the odd sack. They might ask him to watch the read option or to fake the edge rush, essentially forcing Wilson to sit. That’s fine — but a containing role just seems like a waste of resource for such a fine player. So the responsibility might go to a Chandler Jones or one of the other edge rushers — and that’s a match-up Seattle might be able to exploit.

Dont’a Hightower spied Andrew Luck in the AFC Championship game and it seemed to put enough doubt in Luck’s mind to stay in the pocket. But there were a few opportunities to break into the second level and pick up yardage on the ground. I was a fan of Hightower at Alabama — but a 1v1 match-up in space vs Wilson probably isn’t going to end well. I’m not sure using the spy is necessarily a great idea here — pressure is the key, and containment off the edge.

How much the Seahawks use the read-option — and how the Patriots try to defend it — will be one of the more interesting factors in this game.

On the other side of the ball — and without wishing to state the obvious — this is where the big challenge lies for Seattle. We could key in on the masterful accuracy and poise of Tom Brady or the sheer brilliance of Rob Gronkowski. The simple fact is the mystery around New England’s game-plan is probably their greatest weapon. Are they going to focus on the run? What wrinkles are they going to throw at you? Are we going to see more of this ineligible receiver stuff to confuse and throw off an attack-minded secondary?

Last year Denver didn’t offer any surprises. They essentially ran the Peyton Manning offense. Pete Carroll had a free week to come up with an effective game plan for a scheme that was prolific yet predictable. New England are a totally different proposition. And it’s probably going to take a half for the Seahawks to get a proper grip on what they’re facing. Belichick is a master tactician and he’ll have a very detailed and effective plan to take on a Seahawks defense that is banged up and pretty predictable (yet no less prolific) itself.

I suspect the Seahawks need to keep things tight until half time. I think if they can get in at the break within a touchdown of the Pats (or better), they’ll feel good about that position. They’re a great second half team — combining key second half adjustments with the ability to physically impose their will on an opponent. Look at Clay Matthews last week — off the field for key downs in the fourth quarter because he was exhausted. And this on an off-day for the Seahawks offense. He was drained — even with the Super Bowl on the line.

Unlike that game, the Seahawks will be punished if they make mistakes. This is a Patriots team that had blow out wins in nine regular season games. They have the formula to beat Seattle — a ground game that can keep the offense off the field. They can ‘pull a San Diego’ by throwing short underneath and getting the tight end involved. They have the screen game that the Chargers used to great effect. It’d almost be a surprise if the Patriots didn’t just rip-off the game plan that is tailor made to slow down Seattle’s pass rush, get the secondary moving and then hit the big target with a few shots.

In a flash Seattle could find themselves in a hole. And they don’t want to do too much chasing. Not again. They key is to get to half time in a close game, make the usual adjustments and finish strong.

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  1. CC

    I fully expect for the Seahawks to be behind at half time – that seems to happen a lot. I figure it will be 14-10 or 14-7 at the half. But I also believe that Seattle is the better team generally at most positions and that will bear out by the end of the game.

    Revis is very good – so who does he cover? Baldwin? Kearse? And as much as I appreciate Browner’s play – both Baldwin and Kearse are quicker and faster – Browner will have to grab and hold. There will be several PI or DH on BB.

    While our offense can struggle, it also can hit big plays and the play action and read option will open up the plays. I actually think that Russell has gotten better the last few games at completing those quick passes. And 2 ints last week were also quick hits that went off Kearse’s hands – both were catchable – or if they are incomplete, I think the dialog changes. But they were ints – but Russell still made plays.

    Defensively, the advantage for the Seahawks is the ability to tackle – and if we cut out the YAC, the rest of the defense will make plays.

    Unless something strange happens, I expect this to be 31-20 or 21 Seahawks.

  2. Alaska Norm

    “Wilson isn’t at his best firing quick throws from the pocket against the blitz.” I think this statement says less about Wilson’s ability but the lack of a true possession receiver. A big receiver that Wilson trusts to make a catch under pressure in the 1 on 1 scenario you outlined. Although Willson (TE) has turned into a fine weapon down field he has not shown the ability to catch the quick slant on a consistent basis.

    I agree with you 100%. If the game is within a touchdown at halftime I feel very confident that Seattle’s in game adjustments and run game will wear down New England in the second half, opening up big runs from Lynch, play action runs from RW, and the big down field throws we have become accustom to.

    • Rob Staton

      “I think this statement says less about Wilson’s ability but the lack of a true possession receiver.”


      • Volume 12

        I too agree with this. Whether it’s a big WR or not, Seattle just needs a true possession WR who can find some space and develop timing and chemistry with RW on his quick hits to the short and intermediate spots on the field.

        • Rob Staton

          They need someone who can box off a defender.

    • Phil

      I think it’s a height issue. RW’s relative ineffectiveness on quick throws is because he can’t see/throw over defenders when he makes a 3-step drop. He’s more effective, IMHO, when he makes quick throws from the shotgun.

      • Volume 12

        Great point,

      • Bernardo De Biase

        Don’t agree. On PFF’s QB on Focus at the end of last season, he scored a high grade on quick throws.

        • Volume 12

          Is this the same PFF that said RW didn’t throw on the move, from outside the pocket, or out of scramble packages?

  3. nolan

    I was very confident against Denver thought they’d win by two scores… I’m very nervous about this game I definitely think they can win and even have a good chance but I’m definitely worried they could lose as well… Where is everyone else’s confidence level

    • CC

      I’m feeling good about the game. I think Belichick is a much better coach than Fox, but I think Pete and team will hold their own. I also think the pressure is on the Pats and Brady to win.

    • rowdy

      I feel we should be the favorites but not by much. Like you this pats team scares me more then last year’s Denver team.

    • JeffC

      The game will be in RW’s hands to win or lose and it will likely come from the pocket. His decision making and accuracy will have to be like it was late in the 4th and in OT in the NFCCG. I just can’t see Bellichek accept allowing Lynch to beat him.

      I don’t expect a big game from Baldwin unless RW breaks the pocket containment and is allowed to scramble. I think he’ll take shots downfield to Kearse vs Browner. Kearse will have to play like he did in last years’ sb.

    • plyka

      I think you’re being a bit myopic. Putting myself in the position I was in last year –that Denver team was a devastating team. They were historic in all offensive respects. Without doubt, that team was FAAAAR better than this year’s New England team. I think the superbowl tainted their memory, as it should, but all in all that Denver team was a great team.

      Their offense is incomparable to this year’s New England offense. And I actually think that their defense was better as well. The problem, of course, is that I don’t think this year’s Seattle team is as good as last years. All that said, I think this superbowl will be a comfortable victory in the 31-20 range. It’ll be close in the first half, and the Hawks pull away in teh 2nd.

  4. Ho Lee Chit

    Frankly, I was more impressed with Green Bay. New England will be surprised by the Seahawks speed on both sides of the ball. Browner can be beat deep. Their LB’s are too big and slow to cover in space. Get Wilson or Marshawn on the edge of that defense and it could be a long run. The read option should be successful all day long. We need to go to it early.

    • JeffC

      We haven’t gone early on the read option in the last three games. The last time we used it effectively all game happened to be the Collinsworth “How do you stop that…” when Wilson scored on a keeper against the cards. I’m hoping seattle goes to it early and often, as NE hasn’t seen it this year other than on film. I also would like to see them run play action off the read option which we also haven’t seen in awhile.

      My biggest concern is the 1 on 1 coverage ability of their secondary allowing them to pile the box. I fully expect Marshawn to start slowly and as Rob writes, Wilson will be tested immediately. You almost have to wonder if they pressure too heavily on our right side, if that plays into seattle’s favor as the play breaks down and Wilson goes into his metaphysical ability to make plays as he scrambles.

      Fortunately, RW’s qb rating on the road was awesome this year.

      • Volume 12

        HLC brings up a great point. New England will definitely be surprised by Seattle’s speed, especially on the defensive side of the ball. TE Luke Wilson has a real chance to stand out in this game. Again, agreed that New England’s LBs may not have the speed to keep up with him.

        • JeffC

          Collins is very fast, though. If it’s hightower, then Willson can have a speed advantage. If it’s collins, then he can stay with Willson. But that opens up RW to run since Hightower probably can’t stay with him. But if he’s contained in the pocket and can’t get outside or get any lanes to run, that could negate that advantage.

    • john_s

      I wouldn’t underestimate New England’s defense especially they’re LB’s. Jamie Collins is a freak athlete playing LB. He’s their version of KJ Wright but faster and more agile and Donta Hightower has turned into one of the really good young LB’s in the game. Devin McCourty is the 2nd best deep safety after Earl. They have pass rushers too in Chandler Jones and Rob Ninkovich. Darrelle Revis speaks for himself. They have size in the middle of the line with Alan Branch and Vince Wilfork.

      • plyka

        You’re overestimating their defense. I haven’t seen anything special yet. Who exactly have they played? I looked at their schedule, and there weren’t too many great wins. In fact, I found one good win this year, and that was against the Chargers. I guess you can count the Broncos and the Colts, but the Colts do not match up well, and the Broncos were not what they were last year. They lost to the better teams they played –Chiefs, Packers.

    • Alaska Norm

      Both Green bat and New England are great teams. But, I agree 100%, due to the fact that Rodger can run. Brady is more of the pocket passed that Seattle has had success against. Even a wounded Rodgers was more of a threat then a healthy Brady in my mind… and that’s not taking anything away from Brady, just a different skill set. As many have said, RW scramble/running will be the key.

  5. Cysco

    I always find it interesting how often the seahawks play the first three quarters close to the vest and then in the 4th quarter unleash the read option with Wilson. I’m sure a lot of this is a play to set up the running game through most of the game and make the other team commit to it. But, I also suspect there’s a level of risk aversion with using Wilson too much in that kind of situation. Play more or less “conventional” unless we find ourselves down in the 4th. If we’re trailing, take the injury risk and run the read option. It’s like they know they can score doing it, but they don’t want to use it if they don’t have to.

    So, on Sunday, I wonder if they might just unleash the read option from the beginning. This is the end of the season. There’s no reason to be overly protective or risk averse. As Rob pointed out, NE hasn’t faced a QB with Wilson’s running game. Put them on their heels and make them figure out how to stop the read option. Perhaps Seattle should be the aggressor.

    • CC

      I like your idea to be the aggressor and to go right at them. I felt like last year they did hold plays back just for the SB.

    • JeffC

      My thoughts exactly.

    • peter

      I concur with this. Unleash the read option early and often for this game.

      • Volume 12

        Definitely get the feeling Seattle will unleash some things we haven’t seen, Wouldn’t be surprised to see a cool gadget play or two.

    • Phil

      I think way back to the Chicago game where we didn’t really see much of the read-option until the game was on the line. When we needed it, it was like a whole new offensive threat that the Bears had to face. I remember just watching Uhrlacher’s frustration and the draining of all his energy as he and his teammates tried to catch RW.

      Instead of giving the Patriots a heavy dose of the read option early, I’d prefer to do what has worked for us up to now. Be patient — use the option early to see how the Patriots are defending it — but save the option of the QB keep until after halftime. Then, if the Patriots defense starts to key on Wilson, have Wilson toss it over the LBs to Cooper Helfet or Luke Willson — just like in the first Carolina game this year. (RW made a really bad throw to a wide-open Helfet who could have walked into the end zone if the ball had reached him.)

      • Volume 12

        Good point Phil.

        I also think back to the Super Bowl last year when Seattle unveiled the jet sweep and completely caught Denver off guard. I know Percy probably wasn’t healthy enough to run the jet sweep in the regular season last year, but it was still a new wrinkle added to the offensive game plan.

  6. Mike Kelly

    I think Revis is somewhat defeated by the fact that Seattle has no “superstar” receiver to shut down. If he covers Baldwin we still can go to Kearse or Lockett or Mathews or Helflet. I do not think New England has an answer for Luke Wilson. I expect him to be an X factor in this game. Also I wonder why the Seahawks do not use Lynch as a receiver more. When he gets into the secondary he causes panic. Maybe they can stop him from running at first but are they prepared to cover him as well?

    • Cysco

      heh, I was thinking the same thing about Revis. “What’s that? You’re going to take away our #1 with our stud DB? Well the Joke’s on you! We don’t have a #1!”

    • JeffC

      If they play the 1 on 1 coverage game, then Luke Willson might play a huge role in this game. He oversizes Patrick Chung and probably outruns Hightower.

    • dave crockett

      The problem with that thinking on Revis is that Seattle’s receivers tend to stay on the same side of the field where they start. Seattle doesn’t run much in the way of crossing routes or other routes that take WRs all the way across the width of the field.

      That matters with Revis because NE can play man on whomever comes to Revis’ side (or stick him on Baldwin) and then play zone and give extra help on the other side.
      As for Lynch in the passing game, two things to keep in mind.
      1. He brings SO much value in pass pro.
      2. Lynch is a fine catcher but semi-abysmal route runner, esp. when he’s not the primary read.

      • Matt

        I expect Revis is manned up with Baldwin all day. Revis can stick with Baldwin. It’s going to be a battle all day!
        Collins has the speed and cover skills to stick with Willson and maybe Wilson too. It’ll be interesting to see what the Pats do with Collins, who’s easily their best LB. Cover a TE, spy Wilson, blitz or drop in a zone.
        NE is built to play man on the corners and stack the box.

        I agree that the Hawks should go early and often with the read option. Great point Rob that NE hasn’t seen the read option this season. There’s a learning curve in defending it even with a 8 man front it can be highly effective! If we can get 200 yards+ on the ground this game should go as planned!

      • CHawk Talker Eric

        Lynch doesn’t run routes, unless you consider a screen play a route. Otherwise, he’s always the safety outlet that slips off his block to the backside of the play where RW finds him alone in space.

    • john_s

      Jamie Collins is your answer to Luke Willson. He’s a beast at LB.

      • JeffC

        I actually want that to happen because I think the game is more determined on RW’s legs than Willson’s pass catching.

      • bigDhawk

        Luke Willson: 4.46 – 40

        Jamie Collins: 4.64 – 40

        Collins will not catch Willson from behind.

        • john_s

          How many catches has Luke had where he’s broken free? He had the catch last year in SF, this year the two TD’s against AZ who had Larry Foote covering him then the TD in the playoffs against Carolina.

          40 doesn’t matter if you can’t get any separation or the defender gets his hands on you.

        • Rob Staton

          They don’t have a lot of speed on that D in the front seven.

  7. Nathan

    If belichek does get a lead, he’ll try and bury the hawks as early as he can.

    He won’t try to run out the clock like GB, he knows the rick of getting burned if you let the hawks hang around.

    • Mike Kelly

      I Totally agree with you there Nathan. But aggression sometimes leads to mistakes.

  8. dave crockett

    My one disagreement here is NE’s ground game. Put it this way, if their ground game is giving Seattle trouble it’s likely to be a looooong night. The Pats run the ball okay in some situations, but it’s not good enough to keep Seattle’s offense on the sideline.

    NE’s short passing game, however, is the business. They absolutely could execute the San Diego game plan.
    On the other side of the ball, the problem NE’s defense poses is that they can attack the pass pro and zone blocking scheme the exact same way. Line up guys in every gap. That’s the Arizona plan. Sometimes it opens up huge plays. Sometimes it mucks everything up for the offense.

    • Mike Kelly

      I think the biggest difference between the ground game of New England vs Seattle is the people executing it. Lynch has come up big in big moments over and over again. Blount has enormous potential but he is “wet the bed” as many times as he has been clutch. Brady will want to bomb Seattle into submission and he will use Gronk to do it. I think out linebackers in tandem with our safeties can keep Gronk from destroying us. San Diego played a great game against the Seahawks but I think both Baldwin and Kam were playing hurt in that game. My biggest defensive concern is missing both Brandon Mebane and Jordan Hill. Hill was a big reason we went on that tear at the end of the season.

    • Phil

      “NE’s short passing game, however, is the business. They absolutely could execute the San Diego game plan.”

      Dave Crockett — you are spot on!

      I think they will use Gronk to run deep/intermediate routes, clearing out our LBs and safeties, and then drag Edelman across the field underneath the coverage. I just wonder if Brady will be patient enough to stick to this game plan. Will he want to test Sherman?

    • Alaska Norm

      The difference between the SD game and the NE game is….. Kam has his magic shoes. He was in pain the SD game. Somehow new shoes fixed that issue.

  9. Matt

    Tom Brady, just like Peyton Manning, has trouble when pressured up the middle. Getting pressure with our front four is going to be huge! In last years game I was confident that we could get up the middle pressure, and we consistently did. This year I’m skeptical that we can do this. We really missed Mebane and Hill against GB. Rodgers had little problem avoiding the outside rush, sliding up/right/left. Brady is good manipulating the pocket as well, but not if he can’t step up or slide right/left. It’s risky blitzing NE because of their stellar short passing game. Williams, Mcdaniel, Dobbs and especially Bennett need to get a consistent push to throw Brady off, and force poor decisions. That’s my biggest concern defensively.

    We match up well with NE’s skill players. Gronk is a beast, but so are the guys he’s going up against. Edelman and Amendola are both quick and reliable WR’s that will get their catches then get smacked down by the LOB. What I see missing from the Pats offense is a true deep threat with pure speed to spread the field. LaFell is a big solid possession WR. He doesn’t bother me going up against Maxwell, Lane or Simon. The lack of a deep threat allows us to play closer to the line of scrimmage to stop the run and short passes. The run game with Blount has been a focal part of NE’s offense, but I think we can shut it down with our team speed gang tackling. Brady can pick apart a defense if given enough time to operate. The front four needs to step it up! Go Hawks!

  10. Volume 12

    I’d expect Seattle to attack Brady like they did Manning last year. Just get him off his spot, even if it’s a step or two. WR Julian Edelman has a real problem holding onto the ball, expect a punch out or two from our DBs. HB Blount while effective, but incredibly inconsistent, doesn’t possess the lateral movement that Lacy and Jonathon Stewart have. I think TE Luke Willson could be our x-factor. I also think DT Kevin Williams will have a big day (x-factor defensively?), and who does New England have on that o-line to stop Michael Bennett? Black Santa could end up causing some real problems for New England up-front. Seattle’s WRs should know how to attack CB Brandon Browner and get in his head.

    I also wonder if Seattle will play some mind games come media day?

    • CHawk Talker Eric

      I expect our DBs to jam their WRs at the LOS, much like they did to DEN, to throw off the short passing game that relies heavily on timing. To be fair, Brady relies on timing less than Manning (he’s better at checking off), but you can be sure he’s looking to get rid of the ball asap…unless our DL turns in another lackluster performance like they did vs GB. If the interior can’t get any pressure, Brady will be able to step up and avoid the outside rush, just like Rodgers.

      I know Gronk is a TE god, so why am I not concerned with him? Is it because he’s not faced a SS like Kam? Or a SAM with the speed/size of Irvin? Or a FS like ET3?

      I just have this feeling that he’s going to get rocked like Vernon Davis.

  11. Coug1990

    I think this Belicheck is a master tactician is a bit overrated. He has lost Superbowls when his team was superior. I think this is like when Alabama was matched up against OSU. We heard if you give Nick Saban extra time to game plan, he is unbeatable. We all know how that turned out.

    Now, NE may win the game, but it will be because of the players executing. Same with the Seahawks.

    • Rob Staton

      In fairness, Belichick might’ve lost two Super Bowls but the two game plans to beat Baltimore and Indy this season were exquisite.

      • Coug1990

        Belicheck is a great coach. Hall of Fame awaits him someday. Still, his team gave up 31 points to Baltimore and had to come back from 14 points down twice. Plus, Justin Forseth ran all over their defense. Is that really an exquisite game plan?

        Regarding the Colts, they are a very flawed team. The Patriots could have beat them with an inexquisite game plan as well.

        As I said, NE may very well with this game. It is that close. But, it will be about the players, not the tacticians.

        • JeffC

          The colts ended up being a terrible barometer for what to think/expect from the pats. Hopefully, the Ravens were a better barometer.

  12. EranUngar

    I think our goal should not be to force NE out of stacking the box. I think our game plan should be based on a stacked box. We should run the ball enough to keep the 7-8 men in the box and spying on RW.

    Yes, it did not work that well gainst GB but with two weeks to get ready we should be able to exploit the stacked box.

    NE CBs are usually playing men coverage and with a stacked box they will certainly play men. While they keep thier eyes on the recievers and thier FS is deep in backfield the short flats should be wide open. Passing to Lynch, Turbin or a rolling Willson sideways should be available for a quick pass and a lot of YAC.

    Coming up with a reliable plan to exploit the stacked box is better then trying to force explosive plays to force NE into a cover heavy set.

    • Rob Staton

      Seattle has lost two games at home in the last two seasons and almost a third (Green Bay) because they struggle to win vs a stacked box and 1v1 coverage.

      • JeffC

        NE is the best 1v1 coverage team in the league.

        • Rob Staton


          • EranUngar

            I understand your reservations.

            However, Belichick has made a living taking what other teams do best and eliminating it. It’s easy to know what he will be targeting against us.

            I believe the Hawks had those problems because they came into those games believing they will run anyway and not as ready with plan B.

            My money is on Belichick managing to contain Lynch to 60-70 yards tops.

            We did manage to overcome teams that held Lynch to smaller gain (Wash, CAR…) when we were ready for it.

            Instead of focusing on “making some passing plays to keep the defense honest” I like the idea of “Keep them dishonest and be ready to punish them for it”.

            • JeffC

              I thought the game plan for green bay was excellent, just the execution in the passing game was very poor. I think that the circumstances against the packers had a potential to devolve into the same situation that Denver ran into last year against us in the sb – but our defense rose to the challenge and kept the score within striking distance.

              I think we’ll see something closer to the carolina game (except the pats being superior to the panthers). I just hope our offense doesn’t start so slowly. I think the read option could be the one thing that could keep our offense on the field and create confusion with the pats defense.

              I agree that Belichek will strive to contain lynch. I’d be totally stunned if he got over a hundred yards in this game.

      • Coug1990

        Do they really struggle all the time or some of the time vs a stacked box and 1v1 coverage? Do you believe that only Arizona, Dallas and GB tried those tactics?

        • JeffC

          I think the Pats defense has the superior personnel to play the stacked box and 1v1 coverage vs the other teams – except arizona. And I think what killed the cards was the read option. I’m hoping with no other games on the schedule Bevel decides to go to it early and often.

          • Coug1990

            You also have to look at not just the losses, but the victories the Seahawks have had over the years. They have played and beaten teams with much better defensive personnel than NE that have tried, and failed similar tactics.

  13. Ghost Mutt

    I imagine we’ll see a lot of Shane Vereen in the backfield, especially if Blount doesn’t get it done early. It’s likely the Pats use RB as an extra receiver a lot, they’ll trust Brady to hit short passes to the flat on 1st down. Like Rob points out, the San Diego gameplan is just about the perfect blueprint to beat Seattle’s D, the caveat being you need a great QB to execute it (which the Pats obviously have). Going away from 1st down runs could be beneficial to us though, as it might allow us to shift Bennett inside more on early downs to disrupt the pocket.

    Also agree that Collins is going to be critical in stopping Russ – Belichick will have him do a bit of everything and disguise his intentions at the line. Wilson is far from easily flustered, but he’ll really need to keep his composure early, Collins will be alternating between running delayed blitzes through the A-gap and faking pressure to drop in to zone/spy. If Revis / Browner contain our receivers early then we’re likely to see Chung drop down a LOT and McCourty (who’s probably the 2nd best cover safety in the league) playing the Earl deep middle role.

    It should be a hell of a game, and for me it all comes down to whether or not our receivers can make an impact / we can disrupt Brady’s rhythm

  14. Cysco

    Sounds like both Bruce Irving and Luke Wilson are going to need big games. Irvin was quiet in the GB game. He’s going to have to step up and make some plays rushing Brady. I don’t expect our WR to have big days. The’ll need to be on point with the scramble drill plays and make sure they actually catch the ball when it hits their hands. Catches will be at a premium so make the most of the chances they get. Luke will probably get the most chances. Let’s hope “Good Luke” shows up in this game.

  15. Cysco

    If you haven’t done so, you owe it to yourself to read Earl’s blog post recounting the NFCCG. It’s an awesome read. He talks about the things that GB did to give them fits in that game . Oh, he also says this about Lynch:

    “We were in the end zone again in no time after that on Marshawn Lynch’s touchdown run. Marshawn was pure Beast Mode late in the game. There’s a reason they have his picture on the side of CenturyLink when you come into the stadium. He showed everybody why. Marshawn deserves a lot more credit than he gets from the media. I have so much respect for everyone on our team, but Marshawn and Kam Chancellor teach us all about what it is to be true to who you are.”


  16. Ted

    I agree, Rob, that this game will be about Russell Wilson. I was wondering how much the environment of playing in a dome will be a factor, so I did some number crunching. Now, I understand that QB Rating isn’t the end-all, be-all statistic, but I think it’s helpful to look at.

    Overall, Russell Wilson has a 95.8 passer rating in his career playing in domes. Since we can make the numbers say what we want, let’s narrow the sample size a bit. Russell really struggled in his first 2 dome games, going 35-59 for 313 yds 1 TD and 4 INTs, which equates to a 51.02 rating. Since those 2 games, Russell has thrown for nearly 2500 yds, 18 TDs and 4 INTs in dome games for a 104.9 rating. Distilling them even further, in the last 2 seasons Russell has 13 TDs and only 2 INTs in domes, for a fantastic 105.7 rating.

    The point I’m making is that Russell has been playing extremely well indoors recently. Remember that these numbers include multiple games against AZ and STL, who have very good defenses. The real question, I believe, will be whether or not Russell’s targets can get open vs. the Patriots likely man coverage schemes.

    • Rob Staton

      Great stats Ted, thanks for sharing!

    • Ho Lee Chit

      The stadium is not really a dome. The roof retracts and will be open for the game. The field will be natural grass as they grow that outside and roll it into the stadium prior to the game. It should have the feel of an outdoor stadium.

      • Ted

        I get your point, but it’s still a dome whether the roof is retractable or not. I’m looking at it more in terms of a climate controlled environment. Even with the roof open, its still not going to play the same as an open-air stadium.

      • Ted

        Maybe it would have been better if I had stated an ‘indoor’ stadium instead of lumping them all into the ‘dome’ category, but I still stand by the stats.

      • CHawk Talker Eric

        Perhaps, but look at his stats in UofP Stadium – 3 games since 2012:

        56 of 94 with 727 yds, 6TDs/1INT, with a QBR of 102.5.

        That stat line includes a relatively dismal performance in RW’s very first NFL appearance.

        In the last 2 games (2013/14) he’s 38 of 60 for 574 yds, 5TDs/0INT and a QBR of 122.5.

        BTW, he’s also rushed for 120 yds in the last 2 games.

  17. Mylegacy

    I think we lose this one…

    We don’t have our middle rush with Mebane and Hill out and we have Thomas, with a separated shoulder that will most likely need surgery after the game and Sherman with an hyper-extended elbow that is not as bad as Thomas’ situation but still will be an impediment to his tacking and reach.

    To win we’d have to be near 100% on defense and we’re far short of that.

    Our offense will face a defense with no glaring weaknesses (except maybe Browner deep – and that is why god invented free safeties) and that same defense without weaknesses has a considerable number of very good players. AND – our offense line still can’t protect Russell with any degree of predictable success.

    To have any chance of us winning Rob’s statement in his first line of this piece will have to come true, namely…”but for me this game is about Russell Wilson.” Russ is going to have to carry us to victory – IF he can – then all talk of him not being a top 5 QB will be stilled, if he can’t – sigh – the haters will just be able to keep hating…

    Of one thing I have no doubt – our guys will leave 110% on the field – win, lose or draw I know we’ll be proud of their effort, skill and ingenuity.

    • Kory

      I agree. Everything is on Russells shoulders. If he can get his legs moving early and often, I think we might be able to steal this game.

      And if we can steal this game, with all the draft picks and injured people getting healthy, we’re in great shape for next year.

      In the famous words of Jenny: RUN RUSSELL, RUN!

      • Volume 12

        Even if we don’t ‘steal’ this game as you put it, with all the draft picks and guys returning/coming off of IR why wouldn’t we still be in great shape next year? Let alone the next 3-4 years.

        New England has been a juggernaut for over a decade and Seattle has a younger, better core than they had and also we draft better than the Pats have or do.

        • Kory

          Yeah. This game will be the lowest level of talent going into a game for the forseeable future. That’s why I use the word “steal”, because from here on out, it’s only looking up.

          • Volume 12

            Got ya.

  18. Ho Lee Chit

    When NE has the ball, we have to squeeze the pocket as we did with Peyton. Move him off his spot and make him throw into coverage. He isn’t a threat to run. I see us mixing in a little more blitzing. Getting a hand in his face is once again going to pay dividends on the back end. Blount must be stopped before he gets to the LOS. Their 3.9 YPC rushing stats do not sound like a team that runs well given defenses are looking to stop the pass most of the time. I think Denver’s WR’s were more of a threat than the group NE will put out their. Take away Gronkowski and the rest of their WR’s will make a ‘business decision’ after Kam greets them.

    When Seattle has the ball, Collins has to spy Wilson. He is their fastest LB. Their defense is set up to stop the running back between the tackles. They have not seen a QB like RW. Wilson needs to escape the pocket to get them thinking about containment. We cannot contain ourselves by deliberately keeping Wilson in the pocket. With Collins spying RW, Luke Willson and Marshawn should have a big day. Slip Marshawn out of the backfield on the backside. The other LB’s are too big to run with him or Luke Willson.

    • JeffC

      This is an important point. Brady is no threat to run. No spy is needed like when Cam Newton hurt us.

      • Volume 12

        If HB Justin Dorsett can run all over this defense, Marshawn should be able to as well. If New England sells out to stop the run and I have a feeling Seattle has something up their sleeve to ,make them pay for it.

        If Seattle can take away Gronk, New England’s offensive game plan could fall apart. It all starts with shutting down Gronk. I’d expect Seattle to mix their coverage on him with Kam and KJ. But we already know this.

        • AlaskaHawk

          I’m concerned with Blount. The way he is playing New England could mount an offense without passing the ball. He was very effective against the Colts, and he also allows them to manage the clock when they are ahead. The way he runs with the ball reminds me of Marshawn Lynch. In fact he is just 0.1 yard behind Lynch in yards gained after tackle.

          Overall, it would be better for the Seahawks to get a good start on offensive and build a lead, force Brady to pass the ball. That plays right into Seattles strengths in the defensive secondary.

          • JeffC

            Yup, get them out of their game plan and force them to make the adjustments at half.

          • Ed

            Blount is not the runner that gives us fits. He is a plodder and the style that has hurt us is the one cutters like Murray. Blount is too slow and I don’t think he gets it going versus our D, even if our middle is banged up.

            • Alaska Norm

              He’s more than a plodder. he has some crazy cut back runs against Indy. Seattle needs to do what they do best. Stay in their lanes and tackle.

              • Matt

                Alaska- you’re right Blount is more than a plodder. He’s like a less athletic, while slightly stronger, Eddie Lacy. Lacy didn’t give us problems. Neither will Blount. We have too much team speed on defense and are a gang tackling machine. He can’t run away from anyone in our back 7+. Vereen catching passes out of the backfield and split out wide/in motion concerns me more. I think NE is going to spread us out more than line up in the power I. Could be wrong, but that’s my bet.

                • Alaska Norm

                  I Believe you are right on. We will see a lot more of Vareen then Indy saw of Blunt. I’m curious to see if NE try’s any of the trickery they did against the Ravens. I’m sure Seattle’s D has been coached to ignore the non-eligible receiver.

  19. Hay stacker509

    — Sources: Josh Gordon Fails Another Drug Test —
    Sun Jan 25, 2015 –from FFMastermind.com

    ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports Cleveland Browns WR Josh Gordon failed another drug test and now will be subject to a one-year banishment, according to league sources.

    Who still wants to try and bring him in?

    • Volume 12


    • Volume 12

      Yikes! What a mess he is. This is a perfect example of why DGB scares me,

      DGB has the talent and skill set to eventually fit into what Seattle does, if he can learn to beat the press, but it would almost be a ‘hold your breath’ type selection. A little like with Percy Harvin and his tendency to get banged up/hurt.

      • Alaska Norm

        All reports say Gordon does not love football. The determining factor with DGB will be his commitment to the game. If Seattle passes on DGB it will be more to do with this then his checkered past. Pete wants competitors. A lot of teams would not have drafted Irvin due to his past. Pete saw his drive and love to play football and pulled the trigger. If DGB has the same love of the game and is there at 32… he’ll be wearing a Seahawks jersey on draft day.

        • CHawk Talker Eric

          If DGB is draft-worthy, he’ll be gone before SEA takes the podium.

          If he isn’t then it won’t matter if he’s still on the board.

          • Alaska Norm

            I agree.

          • Rob Staton

            Agreed here — he’ll either be draftable enough to go before #31 or #32… or he won’t going on day one at all. Can’t see the league passing and Seattle being the one to roll the dice given the issues. This isn’t just a personality thing where his face fits in one place but not another. Serious homework to be done here.

            • EranUngar

              Maybe we could target someone from the Vikings like we always do. Norv Turner benched Peterson for the last part of the season. He could be an interesting option with 2 years left on his rookie contract.

              He may only cost us a draft pick and he has potential….

    • Attyla the Hawk

      Well it would depend on the trade cost.

      The suspension means his 2015 contract year applies to 2016. So there wouldn’t be cap implications in 2015. His dead money is an incredibly modest 550k (approx). So even if he were to flake out and get banned another year, he could easily be cut.

      If we’re talking mid/late day three pick, I think I take a flyer on him. It’s the proverbial buy low situation.

      He obviously has issues with addiction. That’s what depresses his value. But by most accounts, he’s not a bad person or even team mate. For Seattle, he’d just be another player really. If he doesn’t work out — it won’t affect us.

      It’s a high risk/high reward move. But with otherwise very little cap cost on what amounts to a 1 year rent a player for 2016.

      • Volume 12

        I think Eran is talking about WR Cordarelle Patterson. Or am I wrong?

        If it is Cordarelle Patterson, then that’s a very interesting topic there Eran.

        • EranUngar

          Yes, sorry for my horrible spelling in English. (Especially names)

          Still, Cordarelle was benched for a practice squad WR. He may be availble for a 3rd/4th round pick…

          • Volume 12

            Yeah, Cordarrelle is very attractive that’s for sure. His potential is extremely exciting, He’s a Percy Harvin type guy with a Dez Bryant type build.

            Your right, every year Seattle seems to target someone from that Vikings squad. Is it OC Darrell Bevel’s familiarity? It even happened last year. Twice actually. We all know about the failed Jared Allen signing, how’d that work out for him, but Seattle was also very inter3sted in trying to acquire DE Everson Griffin.

            • Rob Staton

              I wouldn’t spend more than a 6th on Patterson. He can’t run routes, his technique is poor. He’s a flashy kick returner exclusively — his game hasn’t progressed from college.

              • EranUngar

                I agree with your view of him but….

                He can return kicks….he could be used as a “no cost” fill in till PRich is back or till a rookie steps up.

                And maybe, just maybe, the seahawks environment can reform him.

                He has no CAP impact so…maybe a 5th?

  20. Adog

    On offense hopefully bevell only goes to the bubble screen once or twice, but the reason behind this mundane play call again and again is that that is what the opposing defensive scheme dictates. As we saw in the last game , leaking the rb out and down the can be effective. So I would think that throwing the ball to lynch will be just as important as running it. This type of defensive scheme with a spy and blitzing Wilson also leaves a lot of room for the t-end. So I thinks the merits of the offense falls on hot reads to lynch and Wilson.

    • Volume 12

      The bubble screen or screen game in general may be effective against New England, just like it can be against us, because we both have such physical/aggressive DBs, and S Devin McCourty, while a really good deep safety, could get mauled if he cheats up to the LOS.

  21. Ealafa

    ESPN’s Ed Werder reports Richard Sherman has torn ligaments in his elbow.
    It’s the first we’ve heard of any torn ligaments, but Sherman has continually insisted it’s not an issue. Sherman has been practicing in full ahead of Sunday’s Super Bowl. Per Werder, Sherman is “improving daily,” and “finished with treatment.” It’s possible we’ll learn that Sherman is dealing with a more serious injury than he’s letting on following SB XLIX.
    Source: Ed Werder on Twitter

    • Rob Staton

      Woah. Seattle’s banged up.

    • Ho Lee Chit

      Of course he does. That is the definition of a hyper extended elbow … partially torn ligaments as a result of bending the arm beyond the normal range of motion. It does not mean he cannot play. It is just a strain at this point. Full recovery occurs in about 30 days.

      • Volume 12

        I remember HB Emitt Smith playing with a broken forearm I think it was back in ’92 or ’93.

  22. CHawk Talker Eric

    I wonder how (or if) the familiarity between Baldwin and Browner affects NE’s coverage strategy. I think Baldwin is the better tactician, which could give him the edge, particularly when RW scrambles to extend the play.

    Nobody matches up well against Revis, but at least Kearse has the size and the grit. I really hope that’s how NE deploys – Browner on Baldwin, Revis on Kearse.

    Luke Willson has a big opportunity here. Other than Browner, NE doesn’t really have a defender who matches up well against him. Jamie Collins probably does enough, but if they drop him in coverage, that leaves them vulnerable to the zone-read and the scramble.

  23. Madmark

    I just had to say something about Lynch that makes me believe the Seattle Seahawks will win their 2nd Superbowl. When signed his new contract he went and got himself a very expensive bridge for his teeth with diamonds and stuff. I mean it was the bling! He has 1 ring on one hand and getting a 2nd one for the other will make him play his best game every. You see its really ally about the bling and nothing has more bling than a Superbowl ring. Tell me if you disagree that the Superbowl rings can’t be anymore bling than they are now?

  24. David M2


    Don’t know if you caught these articles on Marshawn Lynch. They are quick, but decent reads.

    What are your thoughts, should we read too much into the ‘Papa knows’ article?

    ‘Papa’ knows way to Marshawn Lynch’s stomach and head

    Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch’s crass act is all about him

    We delivered Marshawn Lynch a special cake from his grandfather

  25. Volume 12

    ‘Didn’t trust my eyes’

    This has nothing to do with the Super Bowl at all, and I apologize for that, there was the appropriate post to put this in, but I felt like there was too many comments on there and it kind of exhausted itself for lack of a better word. I’m going to come across as hypocritical, a flip-flopper, whatever the term may be, but that’s okay, I probably deserve it. Just had to get this off my chest.

    Anyways, the past couple of days I’ve been pondering the whole Melvin Gordon or Todd Gurley debate, and after spending countless hours watching game footage, highlights, interviews, and behind the scene stories on these two I came to the realization that I missed the boat on HB Melvin Gordon. While I’ve always liked him, I was scouting or watching him with rose colored glasses on. I’ve been nit-picking and maybe not wanting to fall in love with Gordon, because of what Marshawn Lynch means to this team, city, us as fans, and me personally. But I understand that we’ll never find the exact replica of Lynch and maybe I wasn’t feeling the style that Melvin Gordon brings to the table as well.

    One of the thing’s that I initially didn’t like about him was I thought he stopped his feet at the LOS a lot. Upon further review, he actually doesn’t. It’s more of a jump cut. He also transitions the ball from his right hand to his left hand, and vice versa quite frequently and fairly easily. I love the way he sticks that free hand/arm out there to stiff-arm or shove defenders to the ground. Sound familiar? I noticed in this year’s bowl game against Auburn that he moved the pile very well too. And what little I’ve seen of his pass catching ability is pretty exciting. He shows good technique. Now, I do wish he ran behind his pads a little more, but he doesn’t seem to shy away from contact. His pass blocking skill does need some work, but that’s more of a coaching issue, and with his build, strength, and a little experience, it shouldn’t be a problem going forward. But, I digress.

    I mentioned a week or two ago that as of yet there didn’t seem to be very many guys who were ‘Seahawky’ or unique in the 1st round. But is there a more ‘Seahawky’ type guy than Melvin Gordon? We all know he’s a physical specimen, a fantastic athlete, great work ethic, high character, good practice habits, a desire to be great, big personality, crazy, crazy production, and he has ‘swag’ to him as well. Then I think…’ he checks all of the boxes.’ He is the definition of the word ‘unique’ IMO and here’s why.

    Wisconsin HB Melvin Gordon’s stride length is 7 feet 6 inches, he churns out 4 steps per second, can cut and change direction in less than 0.4 tenths of a second, and when you combine his stride length and the rate it enables him to reach almost 22 MPH (21.9) when running straight ahead. Freaky! Then I find out his possible SPARQ score at this year’s combine may end up looking something like this- 4.43 40 yard dash, 40.5′ vertical jump, 11’1′ broad jump, 4.17 short shuttle, and is rumored to put up over 20 reps on the bench press, with an estimated 141 SPARQ score overall. Now, I don’t quite remember exactly what C-Mike’s score was, but Gordon’s has to rival it. Imagine for a second this guy wearing the college navy, wolf grey, and northwest green. Looks good, right?

    I’m still not a fan of trading up in the draft, because trading down obviously gives you more ‘tickets/picks’ and is a more sound strategy. At first I felt like with the depth in this year’s class, that Seattle could comfortably sit back and select ‘their’ guy. But, what if Melvin Gordon in the 1st round is ‘their’ guy? I’m really hoping that he lasts until our selection, however unlikely it may be. Maybe with the recent running backs coming out of Wisconsin struggling to transition to the pro game it will give teams some pause.

    There’s quite a few people who aren’t a fan of selecting a HB in the 1st round, but with JS snooping around Wisconsin this year and inside their film room, 2015 may be the year that the trend of not taken a running back in the first is broken. Leave it to this team and this FO to break the mold and make a statement. With Seattle relying so much on the running game as the staple of their offense, as a couple of people and Rob have pointed out, it makes quite a bit of sense.

    Don’t know how the hell I missed the uniqueness and ‘special’ qualities this kid possess, but I’m there now, wherever ‘there’ may be. Sorry for the rambling and flat-out pointlessness of this post, but thanks for bearing with me here guys.

    • David M2

      Love the detail 12.


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