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Zone Cover and No Pass Rush Make Seahawks Something Something

Tony Dungy and Monte Kiffin built the Tampa 2 around Simeon Rice, Warren Sapp, Ronde Barber, John Lynch and Derrick Brooks. All five could make the Hall of Fame. The Tampa 2 spread like wildfire, but Tampa Bay's talent did not. Very few attempted Tampa 2 defenses have succeeded. The two most successful are Indianapolis and Chicago. Both have fielded great and mediocre defenses depending on the season. Both are stacked with great defensive talent.

The Tampa 2 worked because Dungy and Kiffin adapted their scheme to their talent. Any team that adopts a Tampa 2 is violating the very principle that made the original Tampa 2 work. Rod Marinelli forced Detroit into a Tampa 2. He went so far as to trade the team's best player, Shaun Rogers, because he didn't fit. By forcing his team into a system it couldn't execute, he ran the Lions into the ground worse than almost any coach in history. He took a 21st ranked defense by points allowed and turned it into a 30th ranked, 32nd ranked and 32nd ranked defense. The 2008 team allowed 32.3 points a game.

It's unclear how committed Seattle is to the Tampa 2. Against the Broncos, it seemed committed to generating pressure with its front four and flooding the secondary with zones. The pressure wasn't there and the zones were picked apart. It couldn't stop a drive. Seattle allowed Denver to dink and dunk it's way 78 yards for a score. Then it was gifted first and 25, forfeited 20 yards and allowed Denver to get back into field goal range. Denver's fourth drive it bested even that.

7. A good punt by John Ryan backed Denver to their 14.

6. They picked on Kelly Jennings for 14.

5. They picked on Josh Wilson for 13.

4. They overloaded Leroy Hill's zone with Lamont Jordan and Brandon Stokely and Kyle Orton passed to Stokely for seven.

3. Then Peyton Hillis picked his way around right end for five and the first. The defensive line jammed the middle, but D.D. Lewis lost contain on the right and then lost the tackle when Hillis swatted him away. This is probably the least worrisome play of the drive.

Kyle Orton is called for delay of game.

2. It's first and fifteen. A gain of six yards or more is a success. The Broncos spread Seattle by putting three wide receivers left and two wide receivers right. The Seahawks are in a 4-1 dime. Seattle's front four "pin their ears back" and generate some pressure, but the Seahawks are in a zone. Eddie Royal streaks underneath and then curls roughly opposite the center. Orton finds him. Seahawks surround him. Josh Wilson closes from the left. Lofa Tatupu closes from the top. Jordan Babineaux closes from the underneath. Royal turns, attempts to do too much and loses ground before being tackled by Babineaux. It's a gain of six. A success. Had Royal plunged forward, he could have gained an additional yard or two. Seattle had its pass rush. Its zones surround the eventual receiver. But Kyle Orton found a man underneath and completed a successful pass.

1. So Seattle blitzes. It blitzes six from a 4-3. It blitzes six against Denver's two wide receiver, tight end, I formation. The blitzers don't strike, but they do limit Orton's time. Orton finds Hillis hooking into the flat and completes a pass that streaks up the sideline for 18 and the first.

It's the preseason, but this looks awfully familiar. From Ray Rhoads to John Marshall and now seemingly Jim Mora and Gus Bradley, Seattle has again and again constructed fast, bend but don't break defenses that rely on turnovers. There is no consistent way to force turnovers. Teams can rarely bend without eventually breaking. If the Seahawks think that can lose the battle of yards but win the battle of points, they are creating a flawed system likely to fail. It's the preseason. I hope that's not so.

Tampa was a great collection of defensive talent. The Tampa 2 tapped into the talent. But it was the talent and not the system that made Ruskell's Bucs great. This time, it might be the system and not the talent that makes the Seahawks bad.