Tales from the Tape: Seattle Seahawks

The Chicago Bears square off against the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday in a must-win contest. We discuss what the film reveals, on offense and defense, about Chicago's Week 15 opponent.


Seahawks offensive rankings:
Points scored: 25th (18.9)
Total offense: 27th (303.2)
Rushing offense: 20th (107.2)
Passing offense: 24th (195.9)

Skill position players:
QB Tavaris Jackson, RB Marshawn Lynch, FB Michael Robinson, WR Mike Williams, WR Doug Baldwin, WR Golden Tate, WR Ben Obomanu, TE Zach Miller

Offensive line:
LT Paul McQuistan, LG Robert Gallery, C Max Unger, RG Lemuel Jeanpierre, RT Breno Giacomini

Film Notes

-The Seahawks live and die by the run. Marshawn Lynch is the workhorse of this offense. He's a downhill runner who is a load to bring down. Arm tackles will not be good enough on Sunday. No player in the league bounces off tackles like Lynch, who always keeps his legs churning. He delivers as much contact as he receives and is quick enough to get outside and turn the corner.

-Offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell runs a West Coast system with zone blocking principles. Most of Seattle's runs are stretches and tosses to the outside. The front five linemen set on tracks and pick up defenders as they go. Running backs employ a one-cut philosophy, finding the open hole and breaking through it.

G Robert Gallery
Steven Bisig/US Presswire

-The offensive line does not possess a lot of brute strength but it is an athletic group that works well together. In space and at the second level, the front five does a good job finding and locking up defenders. Guards Gallery and Jeanpierre are quick off the ball and fast down the line. Everyone once in a while Seattle will run a trap play up the middle, but for the most part, this is a zone-running team.

-Tackles Gicaomini and McQuistan are smaller edge blockers who do a good job clearing out defenders on the edge during run plays. Yet both struggle in pass protection. McQuistan, a career guard, will be starting just the second game of the season at left tackle on Sunday. He did not show well against the St. Louis Rams last week, allowing numerous pressures and a sack. As a group, this front five does not handle bull rushers well and can be overpowered by bigger, aggressive defensive linemen.

-To counteract a weak pass-blocking line, Bevell uses a lot of roll outs and bootlegs with Jackson, who has good wheels and throws well on the run. He has a strong arm but lacks accuracy. By getting him out in space, it cuts off half the field, reducing his number of reads and simplifying his decision-making process.

-To that end, the Seahawks rely a lot on the short pass. They are not afraid to dink and dunk their way down the field with five-yard checkdowns.

-Play action is a big weapon for Seattle. Because they use zone blocking when rushing the ball, they do a good job disguising the pass. Typically, the offensive line will start on their zone tracks, giving a convincing look that the play is a run. Yet then they hold up and drop into pass protection. It's very difficult for opposing linebackers to diagnose.

-Baldwin is the biggest weapon on this team. He's a relatively small player (5-10, 180) who is very shifty. He works well on underneath routes and is really the only Seattle receiver that can consistently create separation in and out of his breaks. The team will use him on a lot of bubble screens and 0 routes, trying to get him in space where he can utilize his abilities in the open field.


Seahawks defensive rankings:
Points allowed: 10th (19.9)
Total defense: 13th (335.2)
Rushing defense: 11th (104.3)
Passing defense: 14th (230.8)
Turnover ratio: 10th (+4)

Defensive line:
DE Chris Clemons, DT Alan Branch, DT Brandon Mebane, DE Red Bryant

OLB Leroy Hill, MLB David Hawthorne, OLB K.J. Wright

CB Richard Sherman, CB Brandon Browner, FS Earl Thomas, SS Kim Chancellor

Film Notes

-Defensive coordinator Gus Bradley does a great job of mixing up the looks he gives opposing offenses. He shifts his linebackers all over the formation and will bring pressure with numerous different blitz packages. The team runs a 4-3 scheme but isn't afraid to pop into a 3-4 on occasion.

-Clemons leads the team in sacks (9.0) and is one of the more-underrated pass rushers in the game. He'll come from a down stance or stand up position on either side of the line. He's quick off the ball, has strong hands and a powerful upper body. He can be very disruptive on passing downs.

DE Chris Clemons
Steven Bisig/US Presswire

-Branch is a beast against the run. His enormous size (6-6, 325) and quick feet make him hard to block inside. He does well using his arms to keep separation and shed blockers. Mebane is also very tough to block and gets good penetration. He hasn't earned a sack this year but he leads the team in tackles for loss (7). Bryant is more of a defensive tackle playing at defensive end, similar to a DE in a 3-4. He's big and slow on the edge. It's tough to run right at him but he struggles moving down the line.

-Hill, Hawthorne and Wright are a solid trio of linebackers. They are aggressive against the run and show great field vision. Hawthorne specifically can be extremely disruptive, both between the tackles and sideline to sideline. All three will rush the passer using the blitz, and have combined for 6.0 sacks this year. Hill and Wright lack zone awareness, yet Hawthorne is very good in coverage and has intercepted three passes this year. Wright comes off in nickel packages.

-Thomas and Chancellor are outstanding against the run. Chancellor, in essence, is just another linebacker, yet with enough speed to play safety. They are not afraid to come up in run support and both tackle well. Thomas is second on the team in tackles. The Seahawks run a lot of zone coverages, including Cover 2. The two safeties have done a very good job this year of not giving up the big play. Chancellor is second on the team with four interceptions.

-The Seahawks start a pair of rookies at cornerback, yet they have not been a hindrance to the defense. In fact, some consider Browner one of the best young cornerbacks in the league, with limitless potential. He is second in the NFL with five interceptions, and his 178 interception-return yards ranks third. He's a fast player with great instincts that will take some risks.


K Steven Hauschka, P Jon Ryan, KR/PR Leon Washington

Seattle's coverage teams are a weak point of the team. Opposing clubs average 27.0 yards per kick return, 28th in the NFL, and average 10.8 yards per punt return, 19th in the league.

Hauschka is a fairly accurate kicker who has missed just two kicks inside the 50-yard line this year. His 84.6 field goal percentage ranks 14th in the league. Ryan is a solid veteran punter that has both a strong leg and good accuracy. His 47.4 punt average ranks eighth in the league, while his 26 punts inside the 20 is second-best.

Washington is a dynamic punt and kick returner. His combination of speed and shiftiness makes him a homerun threat every time he touches the ball. His 25.1 yards per kick return ranks 10th in the league, while his 10.4 yards per punt return ranks 13th. He earned a trip to the Pro Bowl in 2008 for his play on special teams.

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Jeremy Stoltz is Publisher of BearReport.com and a member of the Pro Football Writers of America. To read him every day, visit BearReport.com and become a Chicago Bears insider.

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