Hugh Millen breaks down Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson’s read-options, the intercepted screen pass to Marshawn Lynch and DeShawn Shead’s play at strong safety.
I was once a member of the defending Super Bowl champion Dallas Cowboys, who started 0-2 before finishing 13-3 and again winning the Super Bowl.
So I believe Seattle can make corrections, and based on the Seahawks’ schedule, rip off several victories and again take the NFC West.
A few thoughts from the defeat Sunday against the Green Bay Packers:
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• Third-quarter emphasis on Russell Wilson: After netting just three points and 104 yards in the first half, Seattle handed the game to Wilson. That adjustment was exemplified by the third quarter’s first play: four vertical routes, with a spectacular grab by tight end Luke Willson (in which Wilson passed up an open Jimmy Graham underneath). All but one of the 11 plays on the opening touchdown drive featured a pass or a Wilson run off read-zone or naked bootleg. On the next drive, all five plays featured a pass or a Wilson run in leading to a second touchdown.
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While the elevated emphasis on the pass can help Seattle moving forward (if Wilson is protected), there might be a little fool’s gold with respect to some of the Wilson runs. Since the read-zone heyday in 2012 of Wilson, Robert Griffin III, Colin Kaepernick and Cam Newton, defensive coordinators have gone to school at college campuses to dissect schemes to stop the read-zone. As a result, Wilson’s read-zone and bootleg contributions have diminished, but Sunday the Packers fell asleep on their assignments before defensive coordinator Dom Capers made the needed adjustments.
• Screen pass interception: The design of screen passes — be it swing, slip, tunnel or others — calls for the offensive linemen to first feign pass blocking while allowing rushers to converge on the quarterback and then release to block defenders at the linebacker and secondary level. Trailing 24-17 with 6:50 left Sunday, the Seahawks attempted a version of the classic “slow screen,” wherein the offensive tackles continue to block the defensive ends while the guards and center release to block. To adequately develop an effective screen takes a lot of practice to time the release of the linemen, the path of the running back, and the selling of a downfield pass by the quarterback. Of particular concern is whether the pass will be completed inside the defensive end (meaning closer to the center) or to the outside.
Late in the first quarter, the Packers ran a slow screen in which James Starks clearly widened from end Cassius Marsh as Aaron Rodgers also widened. This created a clear passing lane and the Packers gained 6 yards. On the Seahawks’ attempt Sunday to Marshawn Lynch, Wilson was hurried by pressure from his left and didn’t sell a downfield throw. Garry Gilliam essentially blocked end Jayrone Elliott too well, and would have been better served to invite Elliott up the field. More important, the catch point wasn’t to the inside of the defensive end or to the outside. Yes, Elliott made a great read on the ball for a one-handed interception, but he was positioned in line with the path of the ball. Because it was first down, Wilson should have grounded the ball near the feet of Lynch.
• Kam Chancellor replacement update: After a fourth quarter against the Rams in which Dion Bailey gave up a long touchdown pass and missed a tackle on a critical third-and-short, Bailey was out and DeShawn Shead was in against Green Bay.
Though Shead had eight tackles, he was out of his zone on a few occasions, notably against play action, and as the eighth man in the box, he doesn’t have the physical presence of the larger Chancellor. Shead was generally adequate in his technique and maintained proper leverage against blockers, but he never lowered the boom.