Notebook: Pressure All Over

The Seattle Seahawks are getting sacks from each layer of their defense. See what the Vikings have to say about their opposing defense this week, and what Seattle coach Mike Holmgren said about the Vikings' active defense. Plus, Brad Johnson addresses the red zone again.

Upon first glance, there isn't a single player on the Seahawks defense whose statistics wow you. Put them together, however, and Seattle has the makings of a solid defense.

The same holds true with the pass rush.

"It's the same defensive principle really that Carolina plays, with some different coverage variations," Vikings coach Brad Childress said when asked about the different ways the Seahawks produce defensive pressure. "They are starting to get some guys healthy back in there. A healthy Marcus Tubbs, that makes a difference on the inside. When you look at that defense the thing that strikes you about them is how they get to the football. It's fairly straightforward. They are very good at their fundamentals, which is what the game is all about. You can't let yourself fall into, ‘Yeah, we know where they are all lined up.' They play at an extremely high level. They mix it up just enough with what they are doing to create problems for you."

The Seahawks led the NFL with 50 sacks last year, and through five games this season they are nearly on pace for that again in 2006 with 16 sacks through five games. Linebacker Julian Peterson leads the way with four sacks.

But even in Peterson's case, he isn't just coming from the linebacker spot.

"He's that same style of running around. He's got good speed. You can put him outside. They walk him out and he covers some guys out there. He's a good player," Vikings offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell said. "They'll take out one of their defensive ends and put him in as just a defensive end at times in their four-down scheme. They also have a three-down scheme where they can put him on the edge or rush him off the edge also."

The pressure comes from each level of the Seattle defense. Eight sacks have come from the defensive line, six from the linebackers and two from the defensive backs.

"They're very quick, they're fast at the ball, they've been in the system together, they've won together. There's a lot of confidence that they have," Vikings quarterback Brad Johnson said. "Even in the passing game, they've given up some yards, but it's not like guys are just running wide open. There's guys catching the ball, breaking tackles and making big plays. They're quick across the board and very fundamentally sound. I don't think they're a blitzing team. I think they do confuse you with some looks, but not an all-out blitzing type of team, compared to a Washington."

Bevell called the Seattle defense sneaky in the way they try to apply pressure to the quarterback.

"They have a good package when they want to bring pressure. I think they're probably a little more sneaky with it. They're not just going to run it at you every time, they're going to mix it up," he said. "They're going to throw a few at you here and there, just to mess up with your numbers. They have a very good package, especially in their sub-package when they start getting into nickel and dime. They do a nice job with that."


The continual criticism of the Vikings offense this year has been its struggles in the red zone. But Johnson still believes it comes down to penalties more than anything and is ready to see those troubles disappear after a bye week.

"I think when you're looking at it from afar you're always going to find the chinks in the armor. You're going to take your digs and take shots and obviously that's part of it. If you're looking from afar, obviously there's certain areas of the field that we'd like to get better," he said. "I really don't like to talk about the red zone, I like to talk more about the penalties that we've had in the red zone. That's what's caused more of the problems that we've had more than anything. We work on it, we talk about it, and I think the more you talk about it the worse it becomes. We're moving on as a team. We had a bye week. We feel fresh coming back off of it. We feel great about the way we approach it. Move on from there."


The Seahawks are 4-1, so it's not like the defending NFC champions are in trouble by any means, but if Vikings fans are looking for hope as their team travels to Seattle, here is one theory.

Seattle might struggle against teams that use the Tampa-2 defense as their base.

The Chicago Bears, who seem to have the scheme nearly perfected, destroyed Seattle 37-6 on Oct. 1 at Soldier Field. The Detroit Lions, which up until last week were winless, gave the Seahawks all they could handle in a 9-6 win for the home team at Qwest Field.

"Well, I think the more you play (against the Tampa-2), you should improve," said Seattle coach Mike Holmgren. "I want to throw out a couple of games here. The Bears game wasn't indicative of how we can play, but yeah, every time you play that defense you learn. It's not like we haven't played against it before. For years in Green Bay we played – and I basically have the same staff – we played Tampa, so we've seen it before.

"And the scheme itself doesn't necessarily guarantee that it's going to be good. I think what makes it good is the players, and I think the Vikings are putting together a nice group of players on defense that can function within that scheme. I think that's the key to it. They're very impressive to me."

Linebacker E.J. Henderson, who had a game-sealing interception return for a touchdown against Detroit in Minnesota's last game, estimated that the Vikings are only using the Tampa-2 defense less than 50 percent of time. On other occasions, they are bringing a safety toward the line of scrimmage and applying pressure on the offense.

"The Vikings front, I think, is as active as any front in football. I like how they do things," Holmgren said. "Now we have our hands full trying to deal with that. As far as aggressiveness with blitzing and other things compared to other teams that run that defense, I think they're all different. Some might do it a little bit more; some might do it a little less, but the Vikings are doing a number of things, not just Cover 2."

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