The Seattle Seahawks know that Bill Belichick will have a few wrinkles for them in Super Bowl XLIX. It’s all part of the Belichick way, as the architect of the New England Patriots has proved once again in the 2014 postseason.
The Baltimore Ravens complained of Belichicks use of substation patterns and use of illegible receivers in the Division round of the playoffs, but Belichick got the win. The Indianapolis Colts brought to light accusations of the Patriots deflating footballs below the prescribed levels in the AFC Championship, but Belichick won again.
But, mostly, it’s Belichick’s schemes that change like a chameleon from one opponent to the next that have been the ongoing focus for the Seahawks as they look to defend last year’s Super Bowl win and build a perennial powerhouse themselves, just like the Patriots have done over the last decade in the AFC.
“They’re a terrific challenge—so I think you have to go about preparing for a lot of it—the offense that you may face, and as we get into the game we’ll let the game unfold and play it from there,” Seahawks defensive coordinator Dan Quinn said. “But they do have a big book of stuff so it’s going to be important for us to go through the process, whether it’s in the run game or the pass game and play the game as it unfolds.”
While the Patriots way has been tainted by the Spygate scandal that cost them draft picks and the latest Deflategate inquiry, Belichick has become known for his innovative use of formations and taking advantage of any rule he thinks can offer the Patriots an edge. Other coaches have said what he did against the Colts, regularly using one offensive lineman as an eligible receiver and then switching it after defenders became tone-deaf to that number, was ingenious and within the rules, even if the Ravens weren’t happy about that or the lack of time they were given to adjust to it.
Quinn downplayed the amount of time the Seahawks have “practiced” getting used to the Patriots’ use of eligible receivers, but he said they are prepared for Belichick’s scheming ways.
“Just from a preparation standpoint, our time against San Francisco has been that way—certainly they had a lot of stuff, a lot of groups that they could use,” Quinn said. “The style of the teams is not the same, but in terms of the preparation, I would say that you would have to look through a lot of stuff, that would be the one that came to mind first.
“Yes—this is a big playbook. There’s teams like this, that when we go against them, it’s a long preparation that goes into it. We’ve talked about that before with some of the teams that we’ve had where they can use a number of different personnel groups—from big groups to small groups, different features and different styles. So it makes us go through the whole process and it’s a great challenge for us.”
Seattle defensive end Michael Bennett sent numerous compliments New England’s way when it came to their innovation, but he, too, said preparation will remain largely the same for the sport’s biggest stage on Sunday.
“We don’t personally care what you’re going to try to do. Once we figure out what you’re trying to do – we’re going to adjust to it,” Bennett said. “If they want to run the ball out – we will be ready. If they want to pass the ball out – we will be ready. If they want to run screens and stuff like that – we are going to be ready. I don’t really care what they want to do.”
The Seahawks, of course, have one of the better – and most confident – defenses in the NFL. But the Patriots will provide a unique challenge. Will the use of eligible and ineligible receivers come into play? Or will Belichick, despite being under fire for Deflategate, come up with another innovative way to operate? With him, you never know.
“We will be prepared for it. It’s something sneaky that they try to do,” Quinn said of New England’s use of eligible receivers. “They will mix it in a point in the game where maybe the other teams are tired but we don’t get tired.
“It’s a focus for sure—like I said, they’ve got some really unique ways to attack. Just like every team does, how they use their feature guys—I think they’re one of the best at that in terms of finding their feature players, and how to feature them in their system. It has been that way for a long time. So, terrific challenge for us, but they’ll make us go through the process of eligible/ineligible, that’s just a small part of what they do really compared to all the ways that they can attack.”
Seahawks say they’re prepared for Belichick
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