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This Week In Defense: Seahawks’ Royal Navy rallies vs Buccaneers

NFL: Seattle Seahawks at Tampa Bay Buccaneers Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Week 12 Seattle Seahawks @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Narrative Of The Game:

I think those of us who have a dual view of this team — one side analyst and one side irrational fan — were left with quite the quandary heading into this game: the analytical side we said there’s no way Tampa Bay should win this, the fan side adding up all the injuries and wondered where or how the next miracle would come. It was a unique blend of concession and hope. How did the defense handle missing Earl Thomas for the first time since 2009? Let’s look at the damage.

[First Quarter 13:03 2nd and 6. Jameis Winston pass to Mike Evans for 10 yards. Richard Sherman in coverage]

“Damn You Jameis!”

I will be completely honest. I did not expect so many movement plays from Winston in this game. Seattle didn’t seem to be phased by it though. Check Frank Clark here, shedding his blocker and taking a solid angle but can’t quite keep up with Winston. He’s not a lumbering runner at all. Tough play.

[First Quarter 11:40 3rd down and 12. Jameis Winston pass to Mike Evans for 26 yards. Bobby Wagner in coverage.]

“Gonna sit in this pocket for-ev-ver.”

One of those plays where Winston had all day to throw. It’s not as If the Seahawks were out of position either. Winston gets time but has to make a pinpoint throw over Wagner to Evans here. Frank Clark surges late to apply pressure. A “High motor play.” As a fan and probably as a player you just tip your hat.

Drive Result:

With these two key plays and a run game with a bit of push, Seattle seemed destined to give up an opening score. The Buccaneers called some good plays, but Winston had some scramble plays that over extended the defense on three occasions. This really denied the defense the ability to settle in.

[First Quarter 4:20 3rd and 8. Jameis Winston Pass to Doug Martin for 10 yards. Tackled by Niko Thorpe.]

“So many fakeouts.”

Another failure on 3rd and long. If you see the crowd and the line here, the Bucs have the perfect call versus Seattle. It’s a quick strike to Martin after a small fake. Neiko Thorpe fights off his block down field to make the play. I spotlighted this play because this is a concept Earl reads and blows apart even from his deep position. Steven Terrell is way too late to this party.

Drive Result:

After the first down by Martin, Tampa decides to go play action and get Bobby Wagner to take the bait. This gives them a huge completion to tight end Cameron Brate which is followed by the 1-on-1 Evans TD versus Richard Sherman.

[Second Quarter 7:15 3rd and 2. Run by Doug Martin for no gain. Tackled by Frank Clark]

“Frankie says punt the ball.”

The first stop on third down by the Seahawks in the game. It’s a nice win off the snap by Wagner and Clark. I like this play because of the surge on the edge. This is something Seattle has had some issue with in recent weeks. It’ll be nice to have Michael Bennett back, but it looks like they might be covering that weakness over time.

[Second Quarter 3:22 2nd and 9. Screen pass to Doug Martin. Tackled for -2 yards by K.J. Wright.]

“K.J. Comin’”

KJ avoids traffic on screens like Julian Petersen used to. I always get a little giddy when I see screen attempts because, somewhere, KJ Wright is gonna hit a blind running back for a loss of yards.

[Third Quarter 12:15 3rd and 1. Toss run left for Doug Martin. Tackled for -3 yards by KJ Wright.]

“I only tackle for loss.”

A toss left looks like a bad call when KJ Wright reads it and peels across the formation to drag down Doug Martin for a three yard loss. Not only is it athleticism that is shown, but football IQ to take a near perfect path to Martin. Wagner glances off a block from Tampa’s fullback here too. If KJ isn’t awesome, it’s probably still a stop for loss.

[Third Quarter 6:05 2nd and 5. Run by Doug Martin for -1 yard. Tackled by Cassius Marsh.]

“That guy just tried to rip my arm off! F***!”

I just wanted to show this one for Cassius Marsh being a beast. Not much to say about it. Just watch the one-armed wrap and finish.

[Fourth Quarter 10:25 2nd and 5. Run by Doug Martin for 3 yards. Fumble forced by Ahtyba Rubin. Recovered by Steven Terrell.]

“Fumble! Everyone dive for it!”

Seattle’s defense had real surges versus the run. All these plays demonstrate that the Buccaneers lost their rhythm a little bit. The Seahawks actually get blocked up here but Rubin is able to reach and pop the ball free. Steven Terrell becomes Johnny on the spot playing much more aggressively since that 3rd and 8 play earlier.

[Fourth Quarter 6:26 1st and 10. End Around by Adam Humphries for -5 yards. Tackled by Cliff Avril.]

“Cliff Avril is an island of awesome.”

Frustrated by the inconsistent running game Tampa Bay calls an end around. This play is called after the fumble by Jimmy Graham though so maybe it’s a high percentage trick play? Anyway, Cliff Avril plays this like a Pro Bowl defensive end getting out for a fantastic stop. It doesn’t impact the drive as Adam Humphries picks up a first down on the play after it, but it’s a hell of a play never the less

[Fourth Quarter 4:10 3rd and 18. Pass by Jameis Winston intended for Mike Evans. Intercepted by Kam Chancellor.]

“Kam always looks seven feet tall when he snags these.”

After I looked at this play several times it really makes me wonder if Jameis isn’t to blame here. This is a bad play following a penalty to make it 3rd and 18, no doubt. I’ve watched Evans and Winston work this scenario before though and I think Winston wants Evans to work back to the throw here. He doesn’t seem to be aiming it at the sideline when you see where Kam intercepts this pass. It’s either an errant throw, or he expected Mike to work back inside. You be the judge.

Overview of the game:

Kris Richard and Pete Carroll appear to have geared up with a lot of zone defense early, which is pretty rare. Sure, we’ve seen linebackers in zone, but the entire secondary was playing outside the norm early in this game. The Seahawks looked, I think, to minimize the exposure of Terrell, filling in for Thomas who missed his first game since coming into the league ... that’s no small change. Add to it the loss of DeShawn Shead and it’s clear the coaches didn’t want to expose themselves to inexperience or weakness.

The other part of that is battling Winston’s scrambling abilities and you just have a combo that says man coverage is going to be a tough sell, especially on the road. It wound up being a catch-22 of results. Tampa Bay seemed to have great plays in their pocket for the first few drives and then went pretty vanilla the rest of the way even on play actions. Terrell filling in for Thomas also seemed to get better as the game went on, pulling the trigger and getting involved faster. A good sign.

The Seahawks were also able to stop the run in key spots and start getting the Bucs off schedule, combined with no real passing game adjustments, Seattle easily clamped down on them.

It’s hard to be too frustrated as an analyst. The Seahawks locked it down and surrendered fewer points than to Buffalo at home versus the same style of offense.

Game Ball:

K.J. Wright. He showed in many clutch plays this week and picked up a bit of the slack as the Buccaneers seemed hell bent on keeping Bobby Wagner from wrecking things.

Needs work:

If Seattle is going to miss Earl for one more week, they may want to put a few more schemes in to help out Terrell that have less to do with linebackers covering deep zones. I don’t know what that would look like, but I don’t like Terrell one on one deep versus the Carolina Panthers, that’s for sure.