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Packers vs. Seahawks: Tale of the Tape from Season Opener

Matt Bowen @MattBowen41NFL National Lead WriterSeptember 5, 2014

Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson winds up to pass against the Green Bay Packers in the first half of an NFL football game, Thursday, Sept. 4, 2014, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Stephen Brashear)
Stephen Brashear/Associated Press

Throughout the 2014 regular season, former defensive back Matt Bowen will bring you an X’s and O’s look at the NFL. Here are his three key plays from the Seattle Seahawks' 36-16 win over the Green Bay Packers on opening night.

 

Russell Wilson Exposes the Packers Defense on the Triple-Option

Seahawks offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell called an excellent game Thursday night with a variety of schemes, groupings and pre-snap movement to utilize his personnel versus the Packers' base and sub-package looks.

Let’s go back to the second quarter to break down how Russell Wilson baited cornerback Sam Shields in the flat off the triple-option (packaged read) to find wide receiver Ricardo Lockette for a 33-yard touchdown.

Personnel: Ace/12 (2WR-2TE-1RB)

Formation: Unit Gun Far

Offensive Concept: Triple-Option (Packaged Play)

Defensive Scheme: Cover 3

Credit: NFL.com

In this option scheme, Wilson can give to Marshawn Lynch on the inside zone, pull the ball on the quarterback keep or throw outside to Lockette (hitch/fade) based on the pre-snap alignment and initial read of the open (weak) side cornerback.

At the mesh point (quarterback-running back exchange), Shields sticks his eyes in the backfield and reads the run. This forces the Packers cornerback to drop Lockette on the vertical stem and step to the line of scrimmage.

Credit: NFL.com

Off the mesh-point action, Wilson pulls the ball and gets outside to the edge of the formation. This allows the Seahawks quarterback to read to the open-side flat where Shields is squatting underneath.

And by showing the read-option look, Wilson can hold Shields in the flat while targeting Lockette on the quick 9-route (fade) with no immediate help over the top (free safety removed in the deep middle of the field).

Credit: NFL.com

Even with Wilson finding Lockette on the 9-route off the option look, the Packers still have a chance here to make a tackle and get the ball-carrier on the ground.

However, look at free safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix at the point of attack.

Instead of taking a positive angle to Lockette (and eliminating the distance to the wide receiver), the rookie safety comes to balance too early and settles (stops) his feet in the open field.

Credit: NFL.com

Because of the poor technique from Clinton-Dix, the safety now has to lunge at the point of attack and can’t get his head across to make a clean tackle versus the Seahawks wide receiver.

That allows Lockette to create an angle versus the safety and take the ball into the end zone for six points.

Credit: NFL.com

Marshawn Lynch Finds the Cutback Lane on the Split-Zone Scheme

The Seahawks running back showcased his power on contact, speed through the hole and cutback ability Thursday night versus the Packers defense as he produced 110 yards (on 20 carries) and two touchdowns.

Here’s a look at Lynch’s first score on the split-zone scheme in the deep red zone with the Seahawks creating a cutback lane off the tight end arc block.

 

Personnel: Posse/11 (3WR-1TE-1RB)

Formation: Doubles (Y Off) Gun Far

Offensive Concept: Split-Zone

Defensive Scheme: Cover 1

Credit: NFL.com

In the zone-running game, the offensive line uses a “zone step” (step playside, block an area) with the running back pressing the ball to the edge of the formation or looking for inside lanes based on second-level defensive pursuit.

However, in the split zone, the offense brings the tight end off the ball (or H-Back) across the formation to kick out the defender. This creates a cutback lane for the running back to attack the open side of the formation with the left tackle working up to the second level.

That’s what we see here from the Seahawks with tight end Luke Willson coming back across the formation to kick out Clay Matthews.

And with linebacker A.J. Hawk flowing playside at the snap, left tackle Russell Okung can seal the inside ‘backer to open up a clear cutback lane for Lynch.

Credit: NFL.com

Lynch initially presses this ball to the closed (strong) side of the formation after the handoff.

But with both inside linebackers scraping to the ball, the Seahawks running back makes one cut and gets downhill to attack the open lane created by Willson kicking out Matthews and Okung getting to the second level.

This allows Lynch to get through the hole and challenge the Packers secondary to make a tackle in space.

Credit: NFL.com

With good blocking down the field from the Seahawks receivers, Lynch can erase the angle from the free safety in the middle of the field and run through an arm tackle for the score.

This isn’t a complex scheme from the Seahawks, but the execution sells when you have a back with the skill set of Lynch to find running lanes and accelerate up the field.

Credit: NFL.com

Michael Bennett’s Sack Produces a Safety

With the Packers in negative field position and trailing 20-10, Bennett took advantage of some poor technique from backup right tackle Derek Sherrod to produce a strip-sack versus Aaron Rodgers that led to a safety.

In this situation, let’s focus on technique (over scheme) with the Seahawks rushing four out of their three-deep look.

Personnel: Posse/11 (3WR-1TE-1RB)

Formation: Pro Split Gun

Defensive Scheme: Cover 3

Credit: NFL.com

Given that the Packers are using play action, Sherrod isn’t going to get any help on the edge versus Bennett (running back chip).

Instead, the Packers tackle is in a one-on-one matchup versus the speed and counter ability of the Seahawks defensive end.

As you can see, Sherrod fails to set his feet (base) at the point of attack. This forces the offensive tackle to lean/lunge on contact.

Plus, check out his hand placement and pad level. Instead of sinking his hips and extending his arms to create some separation versus Bennett, Sherrod plays too tall and carries his hands low.

That allows Bennett to slap down on the hands, rip through and attack the outside shoulder of Sherrod.

Credit: NFL.com

With Bennett now gaining leverage on the edge, Sherrod overextends (weight forward) and drops his head. That’s a sign of poor technique, and it opens up the door for the defensive end to produce the sack while getting the ball out.

The Packers struggled on the edge when starting right tackle Bryan Bulaga left with a knee injury. However, with any one-on-one matchup, technique is always the story. And that was the reason Sherrod gave up two sacks Thursday night versus the Seahawks.

Credit: NFL.com

Seven-year NFL veteran Matt Bowen is an NFL National Lead Writer for Bleacher Report. 

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