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Seahawks Defense Poised for Another Big Run

Matt Bowen @MattBowen41NFL National Lead WriterDecember 3, 2014

USA Today

After watching the tape of the Seattle Seahawks’ defense the last two weeks, is there a team that truly wants to line up against this unit over the next month of the season, or possibly in the playoffs?

That’s a fair question, an honest question when I look at the speed of this defense, the aggressive technique in the secondary or the ability of the front seven to fit up the run and put a helmet on the ball-carrier.

This unit is playing faster, and it is showing much more discipline within the scheme, which leads to positive results given the talent at all three levels of the field.

Over the last two weeks, the Seahawks defense has run through the Arizona Cardinals and San Francisco 49ers while giving up a total of 368 yards and just six points.

That’s dominant football in today’s game.

This defense is also winning on third downs, and you will have a hard time finding explosive play opportunities down the field because they just don’t exist against this secondary.

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With strong safety Kam Chancellor and linebacker Bobby Wagner back in the mix, these last two weeks have reminded us just how special this defense can be at the point on the NFL calendar when the true playoff contenders start to separate from the rest of the league.

“I think our best football is still ahead of us,” head coach Pete Carroll said Monday during his weekly press conference when talking about his defense. “We have a chance to continue to improve and to grow, and that’s a beautiful thing at this time of year.”

Tony Avelar/Associated Press

The scheme, the game plan? Have they changed?

Nope.

This is the same stuff we overanalyzed last season during the Seahawks’ Super Bowl run with Carroll’s defense playing Cover 1, Cover 3 and bringing some blitz pressure.

It’s not complicated or exotic. And it doesn’t look very cool when we draw it up on the chalkboard. But it sells when you can get 11 guys to run to the ball, play with technique and trust the scheme.

Align cornerbacks Richard Sherman and Byron Maxwell in press, put free safety Earl Thomas in the post and let the underneath defenders match up or drop to a landmark while the front four goes to work.

You won’t find a group of second-level defenders who can close on the ball with the speed and physicality of the Seahawks. This looks like teaching tape at time. Lightning quick with the ability to deliver a clean shot on contact.

Up front, the Seahawks don’t have the depth of 2013, and they lost Brandon Mebane to an injury, but you can’t deny this group’s ability over the last two weeks to shed blockers in the run game or create a muddy pocket.

This forces quarterbacks into panic throws when Cliff Avril, Bruce Irvin or Michael Bennett generate a rush up the field. And that’s trouble versus this secondary when Sherman and Maxwell take control of the route down the field.

Elaine Thompson/Associated Press

As I go back through my notes from the film, the one thing that really stands out here is this defense’s ability to challenge the offense on every snap. It’s not just the speed or the physical style of play from the last two weeks.

Instead, it’s the ability to line up versus anything the offense throws on the field. Think of three wide receivers, jumbo sets, power football, runs that test the edge of the defense or multilevel route combinations specifically designed to beat the Seahawks’ core coverages.

You want to bring two (or three) tight ends on the field and play “big boy” football? That’s fine. Spread sets? Bunch? Stack? Movement? The zone read?

It doesn’t matter.

This defense can adjust to any style and still hit you right in the mouth.

With just four weeks left in the regular season, the Seahawks have an opportunity to put a run together and ride this defense into the postseason dance.

But up first, a trip to Philadelphia on Sunday for a late-afternoon kickoff with the Eagles. That means Chip Kelly’s offense, tempo, LeSean McCoy and Jeremy Maclin.

And it won’t be easy to limit that group.

However, would you really bet against the Seahawks defense at this point of the season given the style of play it's put on tape these last couple of weeks?

Nah. I wouldn’t.

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


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