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This Week In Defense: Seahawks at Washington, Week 5

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Rob Carr

Narrative Of The Game

It was a strange one going into this game. A lot of fans were restless, myself included. We want easy wins, and this lined up like a blowout when you matched up the rosters. Fans were saying the defense should get sacks and interceptions every other defensive series (ok, I'm exaggerating a little.) There was this overwhelming sense that the defense needed one of it's signature step-on-your neck 27-3 outings, but we got 27-17. So, let's take a look at how the Seahawks fared in this game after 15 days off.

[1st Quarter 11:05   2nd and 5 pass incomplete intended for DeSean Jackson]

DeSean is going to be the main focus of my highlights this week, so just be prepared for that. On this particular play, though, something amazing happens. Seattle brings pressure from the right side of the offense, with Bruce Irvin and Earl Thomas. Washington has a great call on with Jackson moving in motion and wheeling around behind the formation at the snap.

Sherman clears to cover Garcon, and as Earl sees this, he wheels around from the blitz to pick up the route. It's a great design against the pressure but no match for agility and speed as Earl gets just enough into the throwing lane, deflecting the ball slightly, causing Jackson to miss it (or at least, distracting him enough to drop it).

[1st Quarter 9:37 2nd and 6  Run by Morris for -6 yards tackle/ forced fumble KJ Wright recovered by Young]

I wanted to note this play for a couple of reasons. 1) Cassius Marsh is in and 2) this is exactly the type of play teams have avoided with Seattle when it comes to their running games. Outside runs (or runs to the numbers) have been non-existent through the first three games and this is the last attempt we'd see from Washington.

An interesting note here is that Washington goes heavy with an extra tackle next to Trent Williams. Seattle's defense has a five man line with just two linebackers. Kevin Williams is backside next to Tony McDaniel, Brandon Mebane and Marsh fill out the front side, with O'Brien Schofield holding the edge.

At the snap, Trent Williams pulls out to set the edge and Schofield stands him up and gets inside of him to blow up this run. KJ shoots the gap created by Williams pulling out, and rips the ball away from Morris. A little interesting note is that we'll see Kevin Williams at 5-tech several times (not Tony McDaniel), so I don't know if this means Seattle has made a decision that he should be there when they go with a big  front. Cassius Marsh doesn't impact this play really, but I'm still mentioning him dammit!

[2nd Quarter 2:48 2nd and 6 Touchdown DeSean Jackson- Chancellor in coverage]

Now, I put this on Sherman even though I listed this as Chancellor. Sherman bails into deep responsibility on this play but anticipates the play as going to the hashmarks, and probably already assumed the ball was going to be in the air here. It's a tendency read by Sherman based on the concept he sees. Sherman has to be aggressive here because he isn't the fastest guy in the world. He can't hold his ground and play the ball at the hashes too.

This isn't an excuse, you never leave your Wingman Maverick! (He wanted Viper or in this case an INT, and got burned) Chancellor one on one with Jackson is no contest after about 15-20 yards. Sherman tries to recover and can't quite get the angle on the tackle. These are the kind of plays that happen when you assume you know something. He did this against Roddy White in 2012 and was incredulous because they "Tricked" him on the route combination. Still Two or three big TDs a year beats hundreds of yards and 10+ big scores so I'll take the good with the bad.

Earl Thomas should be the one to pick up that route but Sherman also has his back turned to the QB which makes him unable to see the ball until Earl lets him know what happened. It's really a series of bad turns that cause Washington to wind up with an uncharacteristically big play vs the defense.

(Note: According to Sherman, he's is in deep Cover-2 responsibility, as Pete Carroll wanted to try something new and asked Sherman to try and do this.

2 things: 1) I have no reason to doubt Sherman here, but  in order to get deep quickly in cover-2 he has to turn his back and hustle closer to the hashmarks and 2) Kam Chancellor, even if he anticipates this play, is still going to lose a 1-1 vs DeSean Jackson. Thus, this is perhaps the dumbest scheme call I have ever seen with personnel by Pete Carroll.  That's all I have to say about this.

As I've said in the past, I do not change my initial analysis with new information because I think it's important to be honest about what I see when I take apart plays on my own and add the context by players later. Plus, I still like my Top Gun analogy and no dumb decision by Pete is going to make me give that up. I worked hard to get that in here. Forgive me.)

[3rd Quarter 15:00 1st and 10 Pass complete to DeSean Jackson- Maxwell/Thomas in coverage. Gain of 57 yards]

DeSean Jackson pops the top off the defense on a seam smash pattern. He runs inside up the seam (or the hashmarks for about 15-20 yards) and once Thomas turns to settle on top of what appears to be a post route, Jackson cuts outside. Earl winds up about a stride and a half separated from being able to offer any help...but yet.....he almost recovered. Pass rush was really bad on this seven step drop with a hitch. Cousins was completely clean on the throw.

[3rd Quarter 4:10 1st and 10 run for -5 yards Roy Helu Tackle made by Bruce Irvin]

The Seahawks were using Bruce in this "extra" man role up at the line quite a bit. He was pressing the tight ends and rushing and doing a really nice job in a few spots. I noted this because even though Paul is an awful blocker, Irvin demonstrates growth. When I covered Bruce in 2012, he had such a hard time holding leverage on a block and waiting so he could shed properly and make a play.

Here, Mebane and Bennett force the play to be strung out. (You can tell by the way Roy Helu stops his feet that this was an inside run) but Irvin is patient and lets Helu string out the play, shedding just as Helu reaches Paul, giving him the perfect square up point for a tackle. Leverage is a hard game to win and Bruce won it several times unlike any other game of his I've covered. Strides folks. He's getting there.

Overview Of The game

The pass rush continues to struggle with consistency this season. They got some sacks with blitzes and pressures when a right tackle injury occurred, but other than that this continues to be a huge area of concern. As noted earlier, Kirk Cousins was clean on a 7-step drop and that just didn't happen to my knowledge at any point last year. Other than that the schemes were nice the fronts were adapted to stop the zone stretch with Morris, and Seattle really did gag Washington, save for 3-4 passes and a screen. They were a little out of sorts on their clock bleed defense this week when the screen got a big chunk, which was disappointing.

It really did look like Seattle was well prepared defensively, and despite pass rush issues dominated the game.

Game Ball

I gotta go with Bobby Wagner here. Doing what he did in coverage spots, plus against the run, while notching a pretty sweet sack, he deserves some love this week as he continues to have a quiet but effective 2014 campaign.

Needs Improvement

Pass rush? Anyone? Where are you pass rush?

Note: Apologies for the brevity again this week but it being a Monday night game these things always crush my week so I elected to shorten it up a bit.