Chicago vs. Seattle: Analyzing the Seahawks' Defense for Week 13
Their defense ranks No. 5 in the league in yards allowed with 309.4 per game, two spots behind the Bears. They are also ranked ninth in the league in sacks, with 29, one behind the Bears who are tied for fifth.
Viewed by many as the best secondary in the league, the Seahawks give up just 200 yards passing per game, third best in the league.
Highlighting the secondary are cornerbacks Richard Sherman and Brandon Browner. After both initially being suspended four games for violating the NFL's substance abuse policy, both are expected to play this Sunday while awaiting an appeal (h/t The Herald).
Browner is one of the biggest cornerbacks in the game, standing at 6'4" and weighing in around 220 pounds. A former CFL player, he has made an impact since his arrival in Seattle prior to the 2011 season. This season, he has three interceptions, six pass breakups and two forced fumbles.
Across from him stands the nearly equally as tall Sherman (6'1", 195 pounds) who has four interceptions, 15 pass breakups and two forced fumbles.
Both cornerbacks are physical, tough with their hands and have excelled in press coverage this season. The Seahawks typically play single coverage and will give Brandon Marshall one of his toughest challenges this season. Despite Marshall's ability to have his way with single coverage this season, both Browner and Sherman have done a good job of slowing down a couple of the league's best wide receivers in Larry Fitzgerald and Calvin Johnson.
Rounding out the Seahawks' strong secondary are free safety Earl Thomas and strong safety Kam Chancellor. Thomas can cover a ton of area and has excelled as a single-high safety. He is great at defending the deep ball and has been very solid when coming up in the run game. With the Seahawks' desire to play single man on receivers, he has the ability to roam the middle half of the field and rarely gives up a deep ball.
After coming out of college, many believed that Chancellor would make the move to linebacker because of his size (6'3", 232 pounds), but he has excelled as a run stopping strong safety, making his first Pro Bowl last season. He has regressed a bit this season and has been more vulnerable in pass defense, meaning the Bears should be able to find a good matchup against him with tight end Kellen Davis, or either Matt Forte or Michael Bush.
The linebackers for the Seahawks have been average-at-best this season, but they have been getting a solid contribution out of rookie middle linebacker Bobby Wagner. He leads the team in tackles and tackles for loss and has done an admirable job in the middle of that defense. Outside linebackers K.J. Wright and Leroy Hill are both solid tacklers and good against the run, but both can be had in the passing game. The Bears would be wise to try and matchup one of their running backs against their slower outside linebackers.
The front four of the Seahawks could arguably be one of the best in the league, with depth off the edge and solid veteran play on the inside.
The Seahawks shocked many when they selected Bruce Irvin in the first round in this past draft. Irvin is not a starter, but sees a relatively large amount of snaps as a situational speed rusher. He has seven sacks this season, but is limited in his moves, relying solely on his speed rush. He also can struggle against physical left tackles. Irvin can play similarly to Aldon Smith, and J'Marcus Webb hopefully has learned his lesson on how to slow down an effective speed rusher after allowing three sacks to Smith two weeks ago.
Chris Clemons is arguably the most complete player on the defensive line, combing speed, strength, and athleticism. He has eight sacks on the season, is great at getting pressure on the quarterback and is tough against the run. Opposite of Clemons is the rotation of Red Bryant and Jason Jones. Both have the ability to line up inside at defensive tackle and the ability to slow down the running game.
Jones excels more as a pass rusher and Bryant as a run stopper, so they provide a solid rotation on the left side. New right tackle Jonathan Scott played well last Sunday in his first start as a Bear and will find himself facing off against yet another strong defensive front.
Other than its tremendous secondary, the strength of the defense could be its two defensive tackles, Alan Branch and Brandon Mebane. Branch is becoming one of the league's best nose tackles with his ability to shed blockers and his physical play. He can shore up running lanes and collapse the pocket better than most nose tackles in the league and will pose a difficult challenge for center Roberto Garza and new right guard Gabe Carimi.
Mebane plays more of the athletic under tackle position, combing size and speed to stop the running game and get after the quarterback. He has three sacks on the year, and his burst off of the ball makes it difficult for blockers to get leverage against him. New left guard Edwin Williams had some experience going up against him last season and will need to play a good game to keep Jay Cutler upright.
Matt Eurich is a contributor to Bearsbacker.com. Follow Bears Backer on Facebook and Twitter for up to the minute news about the Bears. Also, check out Matt’s work on BleacherReport.com and follow him on Twitter @MattEurich.
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