Understanding the Truth About the Seattle Seahawks' Defensive Line

Sam WoodsCorrespondent IJanuary 19, 2010

SEATTLE - NOVEMBER 08:  Defensive tackle Brandon Mebane #92 of the Seattle Seahawks celebrates after sacking the quarterback against the Detroit Lions on November 8, 2009 at Qwest Field in Seattle, Washington. The Seahawks defeated the Lions 32-20. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

With the retainment of Gus Bradley and D-Line coach Dan Quinn, as well as the addition of Head Coach Pete Carroll, the Seahawks will run a 4-3 Under, with a Tampa 2 cover scheme.

Here is how the line is typically set up. Right now this is a 4-3 Under Cover 1 scheme. Ignore all the Safety stuff for now.


The only way this particular defense dominates is when there is an elite defensive line, particularly defensive tackles. The Nose Tackle (NT or one technique) is responsible for commanding double teams and hold ground in the run, and bend the inside of the pocket back, and getting in the quarterback's face.

The Under Tackle (UT or three technique or in this picture the "DT") penetrates and disrupts through one gap. Warren Sapp spent his days benefiting from this setup. He was quick and agile and able to blow by his block and make plays in the backfield. The only logical way he was going to stop was A) The one tech failed at his job or B) Sapp was double teamed, which consequently left his DE unblocked or being handled by a TE, leaving a linebacker with a free ride to the backfield.

The Hawks are very close to an elite defense believe it or not, all thanks to Brandon Mebane.

Bane is 24 years old and is signed through 2011. He is quite quick for a lineman, but is also strong enough to hold his ground in the run. He pops at the snap and makes the double team look like a revolving door. He slices through blockers and disrupts at the line.

He excelled at one technique, freeing up sacks for Patrick Kerney and Daryl Tapp, and almost single-handedly plugging the run. This, if you remember, was when our defense was top five material.

This year he moved to the three technique, and has had faired well, but has not been the MVP type he was. He's still just as quick, and still befuddling interior lineman.

Let's take a look back at how a good three tech can fail.

A) He is being double teamed. While this is true, he can simply take on the NT responsibilities and let someone else collect the TFL. But that isn't happening.

B) His buddy one tech is failing. AAAAH! Here we are. People, the reason our defense is not top 10 is Mr. Colin Cole. While he is taking up space (by default mostly), he's not holding it.

I should have told you this earlier, but watch Colin Cole in our games if you ever get the chance. On almost every single play Cole gets pushed back at least two to three yards. Quite simply, Colin Cole may be big, but he plays small. Brandon Mebane is a little undersized, but plays like he's an athletic Mt. Cody.

Part of the reason the Ruskell strategy failed is that he failed to add stars at premium positions. What I mean is that I'd rather sign a DE to huge money and add cheap safeties than to spread the wealth across the board.

If you have a bunch of aging average players on defensewhich Seattle didyou can expect nothing.

That is why I am strongly for trading up to get Gerald McCoy or even Ndamukong Suh. Teams may be looking to get out of the top five this year, because of the possible rookie pay scale in 2011. The Seahawks are one of those teams that can whether that financial barrier.

So that's pretty much a wrap for the DT's. The rest of the defense is a lot easier to explain.

If the two inside guys do their job, the ends will have one on one matchups and you will see an explosion of sacks from them.

If the two inside guys do their job, the linebackers can use their skills to head hunt instead of shed blocks. Aaron Curry will become a monster beast.

The improved pass rush makes a weak secondary look pretty good.

You see the waterfall effect here? Fixing a defense is easy, and it should be Pete Carroll's first priority, so that he can focus on improving the offense, which is a little more complicated, but not very.

I'll probably write up a "how to fix the offense" post much like this one in the near future. As for now, comments, suggestions, questions and rants are always welcome.