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Buccaneers vs. Seahawks: Breaking Down Seattle's Game Plan

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Buccaneers vs. Seahawks: Breaking Down Seattle's Game Plan
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After playing four of their last five games on the road, the Seattle Seahawks return home to CenturyLink Field this Sunday to take on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Seahawks will be looking to bounce back offensively after an outing last week that saw them only able to get seven first downs in the entire game. Because of this, Seattle is likely to roll out a vastly different game plan in Week 9. 

Fortunately for Seattle, this game is at home. The Seahawks have looked unbeatable so far in their three home games, outscoring their opponents by a combined score of 94-33.

 

The Competitive Edge

NFL Rankings for Seahawks and Buccaneers
Seattle Seahawks Category Tampa Bay Buccaneers
9th Scoring Offense 31st
15th Total Offense 31st
26th Passing Offense 26th
5th Yards Per Attempt 32nd
4th Rushing Offense 23rd
10th Yards Per Carry 22nd
3rd Scoring Defense 18th
2nd Total Defense 14th
3rd Passing Defense 19th
2nd Yards Per Attempt 20th
15th Rushing Defense 7th
17th Yards Per Carry 8th

ESPN.com

It is difficult to look at this chart and not come away thinking that the Seahawks are the drastically better team. This is especially true on offense. Even though the Seahawks offense has taken a step back recently, it has still been better than Tampa Bay's, which has been statistically dreadful. 

Perhaps this is why the Seahawks are 16-point favorites in this game according to Vegas Insider. That is a huge point spread, especially considering that the Seahawks were only able to score 14 points against the St. Louis Rams last week.

 

Seattle's Offense vs. Tampa Bay's Defense

Re-commit to the Run 

Running back Marshawn Lynch only had eight carries against the Rams. Keeping the ball out of the team's best offensive player's hands isn't the best way to win football games. The Seahawks must get back to doing what they do best offensively and commit to making sure that Lynch gets at least 20 rushes in this game. 

Lynch's lack of carries in Week 8 is clearly not what the Seahawks have been doing all season. They need to get back to their identity and let Lynch wear down the defense by running the football. 

 

Attack the Edges

The strength of the Buccaneers defensive line is up the middle, where defensive tackle Gerald McCoy has been dominant this season. The defensive ends, especially Daniel Te'o-Nesheim, have been quite the opposite. 

The Seahawks should have tremendous success attacking the edges and can do so without making significant changes to their offensive scheme.

Here is an example from Monday's game. It was one of the few running plays for Seattle that was able to pick up yards, though it was ultimately called back for a hold that was away from the play.

The Seahawks have three wide receivers, and TE Zach Miller is lined up to the right side. Quarterback Russell Wilson is in the shotgun with Lynch to his left. Wilson hands the ball off to Lynch and then runs right, faking that this might be a read-option play.

From this formation, the Seahawks will usually run Lynch to the inside, either through the A or B gaps to the right of center Max Unger. On this play, though, the blocking is set up for Lynch to run around the right end. 

Miller and right tackle Michael Bowie initially double-team St. Louis defensive end Chris Long. Miller then peels off and moves up to the linebacker. 

Lynch is able to get to the edge and around the corner. It isn't until after he is 16 yards downfield that a defender is finally able to get to Lynch and take him down.

This play is a clear example of the type of play that the Seahawks can use to exploit the weaknesses of the Buccaneers' defensive front. 

 

Seattle's Defense vs. Tampa Bay's Offense

Load the Box to Stop the Run 

Even if running back Doug Martin is unable to play this week due to his shoulder injury, the Buccaneers are still likely to try to run the ball at Seattle's defense. The Seahawks were unable to stop the run on Monday against St. Louis, and the Rams were able to grind out 200 yards on the ground in that game. 

Tampa Bay is sure to try to replicate the success that the Rams were able to get running the ball against Seattle. To counter that, the Seahawks need to keep a safety, like Kam Chancellor, up near the line of scrimmage to help fill gaps and stop the Tampa Bay ground attack from being able to chew up yards. 

The Buccaneers' passing offense is probably the worst that Seattle has faced all year and is the worst in the league at yards per pass attempt. This means that there is no reason for Seattle not to load the box to stop the run.

 

Keep Vincent Jackson From Getting Deep

While the Tampa Bay passing attack is fairly anemic, that has nothing to do with wide receiver Vincent Jackson. Jackson is one of the league's elite receivers and is capable of putting up some big statistical performances even without a quality QB throwing him the ball. 

Two weeks ago against the Atlanta Falcons, Jackson was targeted with 22 passes. It is clear that the Buccaneers coaches have been trying to get the ball into Jackson's hands at all costs.

The Seahawks have to be wary of this trend. Jackson is capable of producing game-changing plays at any moment and demands a constant double-team. It will be up to free safety Earl Thomas to make sure that Jackson is never able to get behind the Seattle defense. 

Vincent Jackson Passing Stats
Week Targets Catches Yards Yards after Catch
1 13 7 154 98
2 11 5 77 11
3 6 3 34 8
4 11 2 27 2
6 12 9 114 28
7 22 10 138 48
8 13 5 79 19

Pro Football Focus

 

Game Stats and Facts (via Pro-Football-Reference)

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The Seahawks lead the all-time series between these teams 7-4. 

Tampa Bay has won the last three meetings between these teams. The last time the Seahawks topped the Buccaneers was back in September of 2007. 

The Seahawks and Buccaneers played each other in both 1976 and 1977, but then didn't play again until 1994. The process for developing schedules has changed since then, so any gap longer than four years is impossible under today's scheduling rules. 

The Seahawks and Buccaneers both entered the league in the 1976. This allows for some interesting comparisons of the two franchises and their overall success. 

Seattle has 267 wins in its history. Tampa Bay has 244.

Seattle has 12 playoff appearances in its history. Tampa Bay has 10. 

The Seahawks have had 11 different quarterbacks lead the teams in passing, while Tampa Bay has had 18.

Those last three stats likely explain why Tampa Bay in on its ninth head coach, while Pete Carroll is only Seattle's seventh. 

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