Super Bowl strategy: Seahawks offense against Patriots defense
In the National Football League good teams develop identities. A team without an identity is a team in flux, struggling their way to at best an 8-8 record.
Often times teams take on the personality of its head coach. Is the guy fiery, stoic, confident or just plain loud?
In Seattle, the defending champion Seahawks most certainly have an identity.
Last year in Super Bowl XLVIII, the Seahawks defense straight intimidated the Denver Broncos offense right off the field. Once safety Kam Chancellor knocked Demaryius Thomas into next week early in the game, Peyton Manning's squad knew they had no chance to play with the big boys.
Seattle's defense is cocky, boisterous and aggressive. They are dominant when at full strength.
What about Russell Wilson's crew though?
The other unit in Seattle was asked to come up with some pretty big plays in the NFC Championship game. But big plays is what Wilson is all about.
The third year impressive quarterback who always seems to make the critical play when called upon is no doubt one of their most crucial leaders. However, there's an even more important man to their offense.
"Beast-Mode" is the heart and soul of the Seattle offense.
Turn your attention to the shocking turnaround we saw in the NFC Championship game. Seattle's offense was terrible all game long. Admittedly, they're not a come-from-behind offense and don't possess the type of firepower on the outside that great offenses usually have.
What's shocking is that they came back from two possessions down against Green Bay without even changing their offense. They incredibly still used Lynch, Wilson and the zone read to steal that game and assure themselves a return trip to the Super Bowl.
As the game moves along, Lynch just grows stronger.
Everything they do is based on their run game whether it be moving the pocket for Wilson, play-action or read option. Their simple goal is to force the defense to commit more than seven guys to the run game, opening up space for their average too good receiving threats.
Knowing New England Patriotshead coach Bill Belichick, he'll want to take away one thing from Seattle's offense come Sunday.
Belichick is arguably the greatest defensive in-game adjuster in NFL history. After one defensive series, Belichick gathers his guys and re-writes the rest of the game. It's amazing what he does with subtle strategy adjustments.
The best example of Belichick's defensive genius still remains Super Bowl XXV when he dared the dangerous Buffalo Bills to run the ball on almost every play. Playing a Big Nickel with his New York Giants defense, Thurman Thomas ran for 135 yards on 15 carries. Though they had success running the ball, it took away opportunities for Jim Kelly and the K-Gun to devastate them.
It was such a genius gameplan which put them over the top that night.
While in 1990 he allowed the Bills to run, in 2015 he'll make it a personal mission to shut down the Seahawks run game, especially considering it sets up everything they do on offense.
While Wilson is no doubt a burgeoning quarterback, he still far away from a pure pocket passer.
Belichick knows this and will dare Wilson to beat him from within the pocket.
When the game starts, target in on New Englands safeties. Free safety Devin McCourty and strong safety Patrick Chung will be lurking very close to the line of scrimmage. Belichick will commit eight guys to the Seahawks run game on almost every run-pass play in the early going.
Because the Pats defense will commit so much to the run game early on, the first few drives with this matchup will feature both Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner considerably.
One thing we know for sure is that Russell Wilson has no fear. While he's not the purest of pocket passers, he'll still challenge a defense deep when the time calls for it.
Let's rewind the clock a year ago.
Perhaps the biggest play in the 2013 NFC Championship game was when Pete Carroll decided to roll the dice on fourth down. They were on their own 35-yard line trailing 17-13 in the fourth quarter. Instead of opting for a short completion, Wilson bombed one down the middle of the field as wide-out Jermaine Kearse went up and came down with it.
To throw the ball deep there took some guts.
During the NFC Championship game this season, after Aaron Rodgers incredibly forced overtime, Wilson made Dom Capers and the Green Bay Packers defense pay for going Cover 0 in overtime.
He again found Kearse down the middle of the field deep to win the game.
Belichick will no doubt do everything in his power to take away Lynch and Wilson on the edges of the zone read. Wilson will no doubt attack deep when he see's these aggressive looks pre-snap.
The question will come down to Revis, Browner and McCourty making those early plays to set a tone for the game.
Whether or not Lynch can still run through a loaded box will go a long way in determining the winner.
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