Know Your Opponent: The Real Seattle Seahawks Defense

| January 3, 2013 | 35 Comments

Seattle has an aggressive defense with some good speed in the front seven so when they react to a play it is at 100 mph. The defense makes a lot of plays but makes plenty of mistakes. I keep hearing about this dynamic secondary of the Seahawks with people claiming they are a turnover machine.

Sounds nice but reality is the Seahawks have 18 interceptions as a team while the Washington Redskins have 21. Sacks are another area the media wants to talk up ,but the Seahawks have 36 for the season while the Redskins have 31.

Redskins leads the league in percentage of drop backs that are play action passes at 39.1%. As a result Robert Griffin III is the #1 rated quarterback in the NFL of Play action passes with 1,826 yards, 68.6 completion %, and a 117 Quarterback rating.

Do You know who is the 24th rated defense defending the play action pass… ? The Seattle Seahawks.

The Miami Dolphins run a very similar system to the traditional Washington Redskins offense. Kyle Shanahan came up as a WR coach for Mike Sherman while with the Houston Texans. Sherman took the Shanahan/Kubiak offense to Texas A&M before eventually making his way back to the NFL. The Dolphins are not a great team but they are great film to watch to find out how the Seahawks scheme matches up with the Redskins core offensive concepts.

Who says you can’t run or throw on the Seahawks?

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In Week 12 The Miami Dolphins had a lot of success against the Seahawks using misdirection football.

Miami will come out in a I formation running a fake reverse HB Dive. The reverse action will attract the eyes of the defense just long enough to allow the dive to gain big yardage. The Seahawks are giving Miami a pre-snap read of 2 deep Man, but will rotate into Man cover 1.

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Seattle’s Linebackers attack the flow of the play while Kam Chancellor rotates down into the box.

Sherman had man coverage on Hartline but didn’t follow him through the run action.

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The flow of the Linebackers allowed the Dolphins to easily get seal blocks and open a big hole for the Runningback.Sherman and Thomas are the last line of defense.

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Sherman misses the tackle and the Running back is one on one with Earl Thomas with a two-way go. This is no mans land for a safety. On this play Thomas makes the tackle and limits Miami to a 16 yard gain.

How do you think Alfred Morris would fare with a two-way go on a flat-footed safety? Thomas is a good player but Morris is one of the best runners in the league at creating missed tackles.

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This is a busted play by Ryan Tannehill, After the play action he begins to drift to his right and misses a wide open WR coming across the middle. I wasn’t to focus more on the depth of the safety in the Seahawks man cover 1 scheme.

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As you can see by the picture, Earl Thomas Pre-snap is 20 yards off the ball. Seattle has 10 of its defensive players within 7 yards of the Line of scrimmage, pretty ballsy if you ask me.

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Post snap after the Dolphins play action, Earl Thomas drops to 28 yards from the Line of scrimmage. The WR at the bottom of the screen finds a opening and would start waving his arms in the air, trying to get the QB’s attention but Tannehill never looks his way.

Seattle’s defense, particularly it’s Linebackers struggle in zone coverage consistently covering shallow and mid-level crossing routes. The Redskins took advantage of these coverage issues in 2011, and Miami did so as well in 2012.

Here is Seattle showing 9 in box but dropping into zone coverage post snap. Miami once again uses play action to open holes in the coverage.

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As you can see by the play art, the SS focus is on the outside curl route and the sideline. Earl Thomas will drop to take near side hash but he gets caught up focusing on the out cut of the WR instead of getting depth in his drop. Earl Thomas is an aggressive safety who wants to make plays, You will see throughout this breakdown he is a defender an offense can take advantage of with great success.

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Once the LB reached his drop point he turns the WR loose with no coverage in sight.

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For a team that is supposed to be great defensively they sure do struggle with standard west coast concepts. The Redskins (2011) and Miami Dolphins made play after play using staples of the Mike Shanahan playbook, Hi/lo concepts and good old flanker drive.

All the speed in the world won’t help you on defense if you are running in the wrong direction.

Let’s check in with Earl Thomas and The Seahawks man cover 1 defense… again.

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An offense can get 1 on 1 match-ups with a LB on a TE, FB, or RB for as long as Seattle is in their man cover 1 scheme.

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The play art is self-explanatory.. Thomas is so focused on driving on the interior route he does not even realize the FB is coming open on the wheel route. The inside corner has good coverage in the in route which makes the mistake even worse by Thomas.

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Seattle fan or Lazy media would ask..So what does Miami’s misdirection pass game have to do with the Washington Redskins? Well let’s take a look.

Here you see the Redskins run a fake reverse play pass, a staple of their playbook. These concepts design is to take advantage of over aggressive defenses who lack discipline in the secondary like The Seattle Seahawks.

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Robert Griffin III to Leonard Hankerson for an easy 68 yard touchdown.

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Here we see different personnel on the field for the Redskins but the same devastating PA pass game. The Redskins catch the Eagles in man cover 1 and make them pay.

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The Eagles Safety locked his eyes on the interior route and left his CB out to dry, the result was a 50 yard Touchdown pass to Aldrick Robinson.

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The Chicago Bears used some concepts all Redskins fans will be very familiar with. Here we have Chicago using a play action with the ” Hide Route “.

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Seattle once again is in Man cover 1… Shocker. Chicago catches Earl Thomas on a corner blitz which will allow the WR to clear in the flat with no defenders.

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Wide open for an easy completion and a touchdown.

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Here is the Redskins running the same concept vs the Cleveland Browns. The Redskins have more hide route PA concepts than any team in the NFL. The play will be a PA to Evan Royster with Leonard Hankerson running his route behind the line of scrimmage. Santana Moss will create a natural pick on the cornerback to clear the edge.

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Cleveland comes hard to stop the run action and Hankerson is ready to clear into the open field. As long as Kirk Cousins gets his head around in time this will be a touchdown.

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Hankerson going in for an easy touchdown.

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Bears running the PA post route vs the Seahawks man cover 1 defense.

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Chicago goes back to the PA post route vs the Man Cover 1 defense. In these breakdowns we have Eric Weems vs Richard Sherman, A “shutdown corner” vs a kick return specialist..

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Three plays later, with the Seahawks in man cover 1, the Bears go right back to Weems on the post route vs Richard Sherman. This play would be incomplete but it was more on the quarterback than Seattle stopping the scheme.

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If you are a Seahawks fan and you are wondering “What does Chicago’s Post route have to do with the Redskins” Read “Film Sessions:Redskins PA Skinny Post”.

Read Option: Seattle has not faced a lot of read option in live game situations. Fans will say ” We stopped the 49ers and put up 42 points ” , this is true but  The 49ers walked into Century Link field and went down 21 points within the first 16 minutes then had to rely on Colin Kaepernick. San Fran is not a team ready to win a game being a one-dimensional pass offense right now.

Let’s also keep in mind San Fran was missing some key pieces on defense.

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Seahawks vs the Buffalo Bills and Arizona Cardinals… I could not make it through the tape. The QB situation in Arizona and the defense in Buffalo where horrible to watch.

Tale of the stats…

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Seattle is a good team but far from a great one. Sunday can’t come soon enough.

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32 comments
Chris
Chris

The fights over RW vs RG3 or even Lynch vs AM are pointless. If anyone says they KNOW RW or RG3 will outperform the other ... they are either a liar or hopelessly ignorant of the player they didn't pick. They're both fantastic, and it is literally a 50/50 chance of which player will do better this game. The offenses of these two teams are basically a wash, so the question comes down to the defense. The Seahawks have one of the top 5 defenses in the league, any cherry-picking of plays or hopes that "rookies" such as Wagner will blow the game due a disservice to those that care about logic when assessing actual outcomes. The Seahawks are #1 out of 32 teams in points allowed ... this does not happen through chance or accident. There is not a single defense in the league that did not have absolutely HORRIBLE games this year. Good defenses do better ON AVERAGE than lesser ones. This game will come down to whether the Seahawk defense shows up ... in which case the Redskins will be scratching for points (Seahawks gave up 15.3 ppg against one of the strongest overall schedules in the league) and whether the Seahawk offense can maintain what they've done in recent weeks against an average defense (Redskins have given up 24.3 points against a weaker than average schedule). To what degree the homefield advantage plays here will be the question. On a neutral field, the Seahawks should win 60+ games out of 100, but playing in D.C., it's essentially a toss up, with perhaps a very slight (as predicted by Vegas) Seahawk advantage.

Al Williams
Al Williams

The question is, can the Redskins offense withstand the physical nature of the Seahawks defense. Those underneath passes isn't so easy to catch after a few hard hits. Ask the Cowboys, 49ers, Patriots, Packers.

Cade
Cade

Take Redskins % of 3rd down conversions (in the 30's I believe) and consider the odds of them making an 80 yd touchdown drive 4 yards at a time with any consistency. Chipping away short yardage plays into our defensive philosophy, not against it. That being said I can see your point as to how Shanahans approach to offense happens to be the same as what seattle gives up defensively. We will see what happens and how the coaches play it.

JR
JR

What its going to come down to if both sides stick to this is, us trying to get 4-5 yards on the play and the Seahawks trying to hold us to 2-3. If that's the case, this game will rest heavily 1. AlMo, 2. RGIII short throws, 3. RGIII's legs.

JR
JR

I'm not making any predictions for SUnday (though am obviously supporting my Skins) but I think something is going to have to change. The SeaHawks may accept short yardage over giving up short plays, but small short yardage plays are what Shanahan likes anyways. Yes, obviously everyone likes to nail the occasional 40 yard highlight clip, but Shanahan seems to embrace that old school mentality: Get 4 yards. 4 yards a play = 1st downs = we keep the ball = we win games. Plus short yardas drawing out the drives is How Shannahan likes to control the clock and limit opponents possession time. I wonder is Seattle will adjust for that.

Cade
Cade

Regarding pressure etc... Sacks are not a priority for the seahawks. Giving up yardage isnt a big deal either. The hawks scheme is designed to limit the running game while not giving up explosive plays. The combination of youth at the linebacker position, non elite slot secondary, and scheme we have the tendacy to give up alot of intermediate passing yardage. Seahawks priority is not to give up points. We dont blitz much because that exposes the secondary for explosive plays. Our sacks are a result of our front four. THe redskins rush tied for themost in the league in first downs and second on second downs. The Redskins blitz and expose the defense to big plays in order to get pressure. Dont forget that the most important defensive stat is always number of points. We are number one in that area. Our schedule was um i dont remember but top 10 most difficult as well.

Cade
Cade

Fantastic writeup. As pointed out in another comment this was the worst game of the season by the seahawks. The reason why seahawks fans as a group tend to be defensive or frustrated is because there very literally is a strong east coast bias in Media. When Redskins do well the media is all over it. When Seahawks do...noone hears about it. Example: Russell Wilson ties Mannings rookie record for TD's. I watched ESPN for two hours and didnt hear a peep about it. This also trickles down and skews analyzis by major media. People review the Seahawks Rams week 17 game that was a 20-13 win by Seattle and percieve it as a weak win. Rams were almost undefeated in conference this year. They beat and tied the 49ers. The medias ignorance about the west coast causes their opinions to be skewed by inaccurate perceptions. As to this article... again excellent write up. I think Shanahan will take advantage of some of the youth and scheme of this defense to get yardage. Every loss we have is by less than 8 points. Like yourselves our losses mostly came at the beginning of the season. I personally think the Seahawks are a hotter team right now by virtue of how they are playing rather of number of wins in a row. I thought the cowboys game was both an embarrasment to the Redskins and Cowboys. It was sloppy. How a 3 interception game could stay close for as long as it did was pretty ugly. Cowboys looked like a dead horse that the Redskins couldnt finish off until near the end. 300 yards rushing is 300 yards rushing but the cowboys defense was just ugly in every way possible. As for the upcomming game It will either be a close hard fought battle with the score in the 20's or I would project 30-17 seattle. If Redskins play how they did vs Cowboys they will get blown out. They should have blown out the Cowboys early. again great article and best of luck on sunday taking what the defense gives you.

Al Williams
Al Williams

Only problem that the post suggests that Seattle defense isn't as good as people think. True they bend but they don't break. Numbers don't lie, #1 scoring defense speaks for its self & Seattle defense plays better with a chip on there shoulders. The bigger the chip the better they play.Check there numbers after the PED's situation.

JR
JR

Simmer down SeaHawk fans. taking that "no respect" chip on the shoulder a little heavy hmm? All this article really did was point out that it is possible to beat the Seahawks and walk through some viable strategies and Seahawk vulnerabilities as supported by statistics. Is the idea that the SeaHawks might actually have a vulnerability that offensive to you guys? Calm down. This is the kind of thing that's making everyone else sick of SH fan posts right now. One strong season (a WC not even a div win mind you)and some of you are acting like you're the '92 BBall Dream team.

Al Williams
Al Williams

It's true that RGIII & Morris will create problems for Seattle, but what is not included that both teams have similar offenses & concepts. The difference is defensively the Redskins can't compare to Seattle. Basically Seattle will be able to do more against Washington Defense as long as they handle the blitz, which is where Russell has excelled.

Belly Kilmer
Belly Kilmer

HTTR 24-7, this is the most impressive Redskins article I've ever seen, and I read everything on HH, Tandler, Keim, BR, Post, Examiner, etc., including UK's excellent analyses. What can I say other than thank you from the fan community. Much Appreciated

ptp
ptp

Some of the counting stats you mentioned at the start of the article need to be considered in the context of the difficulty of the schedule each team played. With that said, Seattle's pass rush hasn't been the same since Jason Jones went down, so I wouldn't expect the Seattle sack numbers to light up the scoreboard. The INT numbers and the general secondary performance, though, is legit. RG3 is a one-read QB who doesn't progress quickly, so if Seattle can keep the edges on the zone read and force him to pass, it's going to make things very difficult. Seattle's defense is young. Like comically young. The safeties are finishing their 3rd year. The corners their second (though Browner played in the CFL and is a bit older - ~29). KJ Wright (SLB) is in his second year. Bobby Wagner is a rookie. Leroy Hill, if he's available, is the old man of the group at 30. He may be out and replaced by Malcolm Smith (2nd year). The DL is where the age shows up, with everyone there on their non-rookie contracts. But the LBs and Secondary are going to look undisciplined at times because they're still young. The flipside, though, is that they're all fast. This is why they're so good - they may make mistakes as they continue to develop their overall discipline, but they overwhelmingly tend to have the speed to recover. The window to take advantage of their gaffes is very small. It's there, though, and when teams have put up points on them that's how they do it. On paper, I don't think your guys match up that well against Seattle except in play-action. Defensively I think Seattle will do a lot better running the ball against you than they did against Miami (keep in mind Washington's rushing yards allowed is heavily inflated by a small number of attempts), which means the points will show up on offense. So I think if Washington wins this - and they certainly can, "Any Given Sunday" principle or not - it'll be because of Shanahan more than anything. He knows his shit, and he'll test this defense. Should be a good game. Seattle v Washington in the playoffs always seems to be.

uh-oh
uh-oh

Good luck with all of that. Pray your home field advantage will be enough.

raphaelas
raphaelas

There is no real counter to the article - the Seahawk's defense is not infallible and it does break down/players make mistakes: you could cherry pick plays where a defense breaks down for a specific type of play or a player makes a mistake/mis-reads a play for every single team and individual in the NFL. The reason people talk about the D being good is that in aggregate, over 16 games, the 'Hawk's D have allowed the fewest points in the league - and against a diverse range of offenses including some that are widely considered to be the 'best' in the NFL (Packers/Patriots) and some that run similar concepts to the 'Skins (although of course RGIII is a world-class talent and the Shanahan's have taken the concepts and really built them out)). The Miami game is also widely held to be the worst game the Seahawk's played all season - coming off a bye week and going cross-country the entire team looked off their game. This is not to make excuses for what was an excruciating loss, but at the same time I wouldn't hang too much on the 'Hawks executing as badly as they did in this game.

Darren
Darren

You are correct. Morris will get over 150yds and the Redskins will clip the Seahawks and put another feather in the head band.

Cameron
Cameron

Only stat that matters is what on the scoreboard at the end of the game - Everything else is manipulation to make you feel better. Looking forward to the game and by all means "underestimate" the Hawks.

Jbank31
Jbank31

Why are the Seahawk fans so mad? I keep hearing that Wilson is better than Luck and RG3.. Even if he is neither team would trade their guy so who cares. We are all happy you got a QB but do you have to be cocky about it? Read Sando on the ESPN website, and you would think he is a relative of Wilsons'. They all seem like good kids, it's a shame the fans can't follow their example.

Matt
Matt

so I completely disregarded that chart when I scrolled down to rushing and learned that Cassel was a better rusher than Kaepernick, Cutler was a better rusher than RG3 and Brady a better rusher than Locker and Kaepernick.

Domo
Domo

So that FBO chart ranks Brees ahead of ARod, Stafford & Romo ahead of Big Ben, and Wilson ahead of RG3....yea, doesn't really align with my eye test. As much as I hate ESPN's QBR, that even seems more reliable than "DYAR"

BBQ
BBQ

Sure RG3 wins the popularity contest. Drafted to start, gets all the snaps from day 1. Wilson brought in to backup and be molded, gets less than half the snaps up to opening day and.... read some real stats that mean something, like weighted by opponent: http://www.footballoutsiders.com/stats/qb

Kevin
Kevin

Have you looked at game film on the Dallas game? Although we didn't need to pass, it seemed as though we were ineffective through the air. Great write up. Thanks!

Mitch Fortner
Mitch Fortner

The Denver Broncos are the hottest team in the NFL with 11 straight wins. The Redskins and Seahawks follow that with 7 and 5, respectively. Tell me again how the Seahawks are the hottest team in the NFL? Is it because they dropped 50 on the Cardinals and Bills?

Jeff
Jeff

"And our rookie QB is better." Imagine RG3 playing with that Seattle defense all season. Yeesh. RG3 is rookie of the year. Hands down.

Ryan
Ryan

Jim, film is not a stat, but points allowed is. Dumbass.

Trent
Trent

If you don't have any thing to counter this write up, which is simply a film study, then don't write that it's crap, throw "waste of time" up as an excuse not to do any hard work yourself. YOU are a waste of time.

Josh
Josh

Btw great write up!

Josh
Josh

Jim - He's not talking stats, he's talking film. He's showing (using Seattle's game film) a few different ways to attack the overaggressive Seahawks and how that can lead to points.

John
John

Does anyone proof-read these? Biggest error: "Thomas is a good player". You know he's the best safety your team has seen all year, right? And you can chuck stats out there all day but the hottest team in the NFL is Seattle. And our rookie QB is better.

Dan
Dan

What garbage! I don't even know where to start but I won't because its a waste of time

Jim
Jim

You are talking stats. Take a look at points allowed.

Trent
Trent

Thanks for this write up... makes you wonder if the Seattle D will adjust their strategy?

Trackbacks

  1. [...] Seahawks Redskins Rookie Showdown Good breakdown on Seattle defense. HTTR 24-7 – Know Your Opponent: The Real Seattle Seahawks Defense Quality work here. __________________ Official 2011 Madden's Arm Chair GM/Headcoach of the [...]

  2. [...] Posted by NC_Skins Good breakdown on Seattle defense. HTTR 24-7 – Know Your Opponent: The Real Seattle Seahawks Defense Quality work [...]

  3. [...] u see the HTTR -24/7 blog about the Seattle game? Awesome stuff http://httr24-7.com/uncategorized/kn…ttle-seahawks/ __________________ Robert Griffin III "if you're good at something, never do it for [...]

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