Our latest Seahawks' mailbag tackles questions about the Super Bowl 48 win over Denver and the role of second-year player Nick Vannett.
Questions about the Seahawks’ defensive scheme in the Super Bowl win over Denver and the tight end position in our latest Seahawks mailbag.
Q: @BankRobber70 asked: Who designed the defensive scheme for Super Bowl 48 (the win 43-8 win over Denver)? Can the Seahawks all work together and use the same attention to detail and execution of SB48 for every play for every game this year again?
A: The first part of this is pretty easy to answer — the second not so much.
Any game plan is inevitably a collaboration of all of the coaches on that side of the ball. But the two who deserved the most credit for it were head coach Pete Carroll — whose coaching background has been mostly on defense throughout his career and whose philosophies have shaped Seattle’s defense since the day he arrived — and then-defensive coordinator Dan Quinn, who left after the 2014 season to become head coach at Atlanta.
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Greg Bedard of SI.com had one of the better breakdowns of Seattle’s defensive scheme that day, noting prominently what was one of the biggest keys — that the Seahawks were able to get consistent pressure with a four-man rush.
That allowed the Seahawks to keep an extra defender in pass coverage almost the entire game against a Denver team that as Bedard also notes, wasn’t known for taking deep shots, especially with Peyton Manning coming off a neck injury.
The Seahawks got four-man pressure, kept everything in front, tackled well and made a few really big plays that turned the game for good.
There really weren’t a lot of unexpected bells and whistles, just a solid gameplan that played to Seattle’s strengths and was perfectly executed.
As Bedard noted, one of the real keys was pressure with a four-man rush. Seattle was able to get that no matter the personnel up front pretty expertly rotating nine defensive linemen who all played at least 25 percent of the snaps.
To me, that illustrates the biggest difference between that defense and the ones of the past three years — depth on the defensive line. It simply hasn’t been the same since. Within a month or so of the Super Bowl Seattle released veterans Chris Clemons and Red Bryant and also lost Clinton McDonald — who played 45 of 69 snaps in the Super Bowl win and whose contribution that day may be as underrated as anyone’s —- to free agency and the Seahawks haven’t been able to field quite as deep of a line the last three years.
Can the Seahawks get back to the level they played in 2013?
The players would argue they weren’t really far off for most of last season.
Consider that Seattle was allowing 16.1 points per game through the first 12 games of last season, not far off the 14.4 of 2013, until Earl Thomas was injured and missed the last four games, in which the Seahawks then allowed a combined 98 points.
That also came in a season when Seattle didn’t have the kind of running game to grind out second halves and further keep scores down the way it did in 2013.
In other words, there are a lot of factors at play beyond a gameplan in returning Seattle to a 2013 level (also, expecting consistent repeats of what was one of the most dominant performances in Super Bowl history — and as such, in the history of the NFL itself — is hardly realistic).
But the 2013 season is the standard that the Seattle defense knows it has to live by for as long as the current core group of veterans — of the 11 players who played the most snaps against Denver on defense, seven remain — is intact.
Whether it will ever again have a singular moment similar to that night in New Jersey remains one of the great intrigues of the next few seasons.
Q: @Rogervanoo asked: How did (Nick) Vannett do OTAs/Mini-Camp? Can he be the blocking TE (Zach) Miller was?
A: Since there are no full pads and no full contact in OTAs and mini-camp, it’s impossible to judge blocking. We’ll have to wait until training camp, and more accurately once games are played, to really know.
What we do know now is that Vannett should get a lot more playing time than last season, when he was the fourth tight end and played just 84 snaps.
Vannett enters this season slated to be the third tight end behind Jimmy Graham and Luke Willson, a role that given the way the Seahawks like to use tight ends means he should be active and in the game plan each week.
And how Vannett progresses this season could go a long way toward helping Seattle make decisions after the season on the futures of Graham and Willson, who each can become unrestricted free agents after the 2017 season.