Seahawks Insider

Category: Xs and Os


Hawks rev up version of “NASCAR” package

Bruce Irvin (51), the Seattle Seahawks' top NFL draft pick, tangles with Seahawks tackle Alex Barron, front right, during an NFL football rookie minicamp on Friday, May 11, 2012, in Renton, Wash. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

For Pete Carroll this offseason the idea was simple – add more speed to the team’s pass rush to create more sack opportunities, similar to the way New York Giants defensive coordinator Perry Fewell drew up his NASCAR package with four defensive ends on third down, Jason Pierre-Paul, Osi Umenyiora, Justin Tuck and Mathias Kiwanuka

As pointed out by Pat Kirwan in this article for CBS Sports I linked to yesterday, the Seahawks struggled to get pressure on the passer on third downs with just 12 sacks last season, fourth-worst in the league.

With big bodies like Red Bryant, Brandon Mebane and Alan Branch, the Seahawks have been effective stopping the run the past two years. But they need to give defensive end Chris Clemons some help on passing downs.

The Seahawks believe they have done that by adding Jason Jones in free agency, and drafting Bruce Irvin, Jaye Howard and Greg Scruggs to rush the passer in obvious throwing situations.

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Offseason rewind: More press coverage

Seattle Seahawks' Roy Lewis, right, against Arizona Cardinals' Trumaine McBride, left, during an NFL football game Sunday, Nov. 14, 2010, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Paul Connors)

To say the Seattle Seahawks struggled in pass coverage last season is an understatement.

The Seahawks gave up 31 touchdowns through the air last season, tied for third-worst in the league.

Opponents averaged 250 yards a contest through the air in 2010, 27th overall in the league. Seattle gave up five performances of 300 yards or more to opposing quarterbacks, including San Diego’s Philip Rivers throwing for 455 yards in a 27-20 loss to Seattle at CenturyLink Field, which included two kickoff returns for touchdowns by Leon Washington to salvage that game for the Seahawks.

Here are a couple things that appeared to be an issue for Seattle. First, the Seahawks failed to get a consistent pass rush while rushing just four people in passing situations. The Seahawks finished with a respectable 37 sacks during the regular season, but 21 of those came when rushing five or more players, which means the Seahawks had to turn up the heat to get pressure.

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Offseason rewind: The money down

San Francisco 49ers tight end Delanie Walker (46) and Seattle Seahawks safety Earl Thomas (29) in action during the second quarter of an NFL football game in San Francisco, Sunday, Dec. 12, 2010. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

I thought we’d take a look at third down percentages from 2010 on both offense and defense to get a better understanding of how the Seattle Seahawks can improve in those situations in the upcoming season.

Seattle finished 24th overall in the league defensively in getting off the field on third down, at 39.5 percent.

Offensively, the Seahawks were not much better, converting 35.5 percent of third down opportunities to continue drives, good enough for 22nd overall.

Let’s take a look at the issues on defense first.

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Offseason rewind: Can Whitehurst lead Hawks?

Seattle Seahawks quarterback Charlie Whitehurst against St. Louis. (Elaine Thompson/AP)

When Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll responds to a question, he doesn’t always answer it directly. So as a reporter you’re usually left parsing words – reading between the lines and looking for hints as to what his real intentions are moving forward with this team.

And I think Carroll provided a few clues as to what he might do at the quarterback position during his pre-draft press conference in April.

Asked what his ideal vision is for the quarterback of his system, Carroll had this to say:

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A closer look at Hawks’ sputtering run game

Seattle Seahawks running back Leon Washington looks for a hole (AP Photo/Paul Battaglia).

We’ve heard this all before. Offensive line guru Alex Gibbs was brought in to install the zone-blocking scheme, which may take awhile to take hold, but has been successful everywhere that he’s coached.

Well, we’re now three weeks into the exhibition season and Gibb’s version of the zone blocking scheme is looking much like former Seahawks offensive coordinator Greg Knapp’s version last season – basically spinning its wheels and going nowhere.

The Seahawks are averaging a paltry 69 yards a game during preseason play, ranking 28th overall in the league. That’s translates to 3.4 yards a game, which is not going to get it done once the regular season begins in two weeks.

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Five questions with Football Outsiders’ Doug Farrar

I had an opportunity to ask some Seahawks-related questions to prolific NFL writer Doug Farrar, who is a contributor to the Football Outsiders and Yahoo Sports NFL blog Shutdown Corner, among many other things he covers on the league.

Farrar wrote this year’s section on the Seahawks in the annual Football Outsiders Almanac. This prospectus offers a new and interesting take on the league by combining an innovative look at statistics with film study.

And this year’s almanac doesn’t disappoint in terms of stirring up the pot, with the authors picking the popular media choice to win the NFC West, the San Francisco 49ers, to finish last in the division.

Here’s how they think it will go:

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Hawks offseason rewind: Creating an illusion of defensive pressure

Seattle Seahawks linebacker Lofa Tatupu (TNT file photo)

It’s something that the Seattle Seahawks made a move towards last season, and will do more of this year – creating multiple defensive fronts to confuse the offense on which defenders will blitz.

The New York Jets are probably the latest team that has had the most success of doing that out of a 3-4 defensive scheme, creating what defensive guru and head coach Rex Ryan termed an illusion of pressure.

“We can give you the illusion of pressure, and it can actually be a coverage,” Ryan told the St. Petersburg Times. “We can overload you on sides. We can run zero pressure. We can run coverage. We can give you all kinds of different looks and (make you) think you’re getting it from one side, bring it from another, bring it from both sides, bring it through the middle, bring it on the outsides.”

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Offseason rewind: Red zone

Seattle Seahawks tight end John Carlson (Joe Barrentine/The News Tribune)

Much of Seattle’s struggles offensively can be traced back to the team’s inability to score in the red zone. Seattle finished with a 39.58 scoring percentage in the red zone, ranked 30th overall last season.

And in 2008 that number was a little better at 50 percent, good enough for 21st overall. By comparison, one of the best offenses in the league last season, the Indianapolis Colts, finished at 66 percent in red zone percentage in 2009, ranking second overall.

Red zone percentage, the measurement of a team’s ability to score once they are inside the other team’s 20-yard-line, is an important statistic in terms of Seattle putting pressure on its opponent by consistently putting points on the board when they are in scoring position.

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