Tuesday, September 17, 2013
ESPN - "Pacific Northwest atop football world"
"How Does Seattle Do It? The short version of the success of the Seahawks' defense is good players who hustle, communicate with each other and wrap-up tackle. Contemporary NFL defenses are so plagued by players' desire for spectacular plays that make "SportsCenter" that blown coverages and missed assignments have become de rigueur. Seattle's defense almost never has a broken play. And those lads can tackle! Seattle misses fewer tackles than any NFL defense. Lots of wrap-up tackles where the runner gains an extra yard are better than a few spectacular hits for a loss, plus frequent missed tackles. Seattle defenders understand this.
The Seahawks play a conventional 4-3-4 with press corners -- none of the funky fronts or extreme blitzes that are popular. Thus the Seattle defense supports the maxim, "Classic never goes out of style." Seattle leading 12-0 late in the third, San Francisco reached third-and-goal on Seahawks' 3. No tricks, the Seahawks ran a four-man rush and tight coverage. Nobody was open. When the 49ers settled for a field goal, TMQ wrote the words "game over" in his notebook.
The front seven puts gap discipline above sack stats. The corners are tall and glued to their men. Just as Hawks quarterback Russell Wilson was "too short" for the NFL, corners Richard Sherman at 6-foot-3 and Brandon Browner at 6-foot-4 were too tall. Seattle has football's best defense -- and other than the gentlemen just mentioned, how many starters can you name without peeking?
The Seattle defenders are remarkable in being a collection of late draft picks and castoffs. Only safety Earl Thomas was a first-round choice by the team he now plays for. Defensive end Chris Clemons was let go by three teams; his understudy Michael Bennett, who started against San Francisco, was undrafted and let go twice. Browner was undrafted, and played in Canada. Linebacker Malcolm Smith was a seventh-round pick, safety Kam Chancellor a fifth-round selection. Unlike teams with lots of high-drafted defenders who spend their time complaining, Seattle has lots of hand-me-downs who spend their time working. That is a classic approach to success, and classic never goes out of style."