FanPost

The Bandit Returns?

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One of the things that stands out to me from the 2010 season (aside from our division title and the Beast Mode run) is the play of strong safety Lawyer Milloy. At the time of training camp, the then 36-year old Milloy seemed nothing more than a placeholder at SS and/or a stabilizing veteran presence on a young, growing team. The year before, Milloy struggled in the little playing time he had and was a shell of the All-Pro player he was back in New England. Add to the fact that he was one of the holdovers from the Ruskell/Mora era, and Milloy's future seemed questionable at best.

By Week 10 however, Milloy already established himself as a fixture within the ball-hawking defense, briefly resurrecting his career. While his play would ultimately fall down to Earth, it goes without saying that Milloy's production was essential to the team - and to Pete Carroll's defensive scheme overall.

What's interesting about Milloy's production in 2010 was not the fact that he defended the pass very well, but more so in the way that he succeeded. A quick Google check reveals that Milloy is one of five safeties in the 20/20 club - 20 Interceptions/20 sacks in their career. Blitzing safeties is one of the most commonly used defensive tricks, yet his four sacks in 2010 (3rd on the team) is one of the more intriguing things to note on his stat-line.

I took a closer look at a highlight of this, a 3rd down sack play against the Chicago Bears in Week 6.

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Let's look at our personnel. From a casual standpoint, it looks like a 3-3-5, with three down lineman, three backers about to blitz, and five defensive backs (2 CB, 2 S and 1 man covering deep middle). Look closer, however, and you would realize this is in fact the "Bandit" package, or the 3-1-7, that was mostly unused last season, for a number of reasons.

Ball is snapped, and the front six begins their moves; Clemons, on the defensive right side, rushes hard into the LT as usual. The DT, Craig Terrill, bull-rushes insides to the right of the center. Raheem Brock, on the left, finally loops around everybody and attacks the LT's inside. Meanwhile, Jordan Babineaux and Milloy themselves have outside rush/contain, and Lofa drops back to cover the middle.

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My analysis would dictate that the hardest and the most important job here on this play would be Milloy's. In addition to being the only source of outside pressure from the weak side, Milloy also has to keep contain as well on a mobile QB in Jay Cutler. Milloy's job isn't to necessarily get the sack, but rather draw Cutler inside where he would be gruesomely met by the likes of Clemons, Brock and Terrill. Yet one misstep by Milloy, and the entire right side of the offense is open. Not only does he have to do this correctly, but he has to do it fast.

That he does. The result? As the Seahawks celebrate their 5th sack of the day, the Bears stall on another potentially game-changing drive, sending their punting unit out instead.

A lot has changed since then, and every one of the players shown on tape, except Clemons, are now gone from the team. Instead of having a aging Raheem Brock, we get a nasty, ferocious competitor in Bruce Irvin. Our interior DT upgraded from backup-depth Craig Terrill to sack artist Jason Jones. Versatile Bobby Wagner comes in for Lofa, while a mixture of guys between Walter Thurmond/Jeron Johnson and Winston Guy battle it out for the Babineaux spot.

And of course, there's Kam Chancellor, the heir apparent to Milloy himself. It's fitting to think that Milloy was originally scouted as hard-nosed, big hitting safety back when he played at UW. Still, Chancellor has only recorded two sacks compared to the twenty-one his mentor carries, and I think in due time we'll see his numbers parallel those of the four-time Pro Bowl safety.

Indeed, a lot of things have changed since the Bandit coverage appeared, personnel and scheme-wise, but that isn't necessarily a bad thing. Though many people complained about the drop-off in pass rush from 2010 to 2011, it's important to realize that with a change of personnel, continuity becomes difficult; there were plenty of new players to teach, and more importantly, there was a lack of depth and a glut of injuries that prevented the Seahawks from doing some of the things they did in 2010.

Now, however, PC/JS have gone out of the way to stack more and more pass-rushing specialists. Between the FA and the Draft, the team already seems primed for a improvement come September. Still, logic dictates that a four man rush can't always beat the O-Line all the time, and over the past several years, coaches have devoted a lot of time in creating unorthodox/creative and exotic schemes to get pressure on the QB while not taking great chances in the defensive backfield.

In 2010, the Seahawks found that their Bandit package was successful. Who's to say that the Bandit won't work again?

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