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A vain attempt to slow Cooper Kupp, in three parts

Los Angeles Rams v Seattle Seahawks Photo by Lindsey Wasson/Getty Images

Let us briefly revisit what I consider the second greatest game in Seahawks history.

In the 2005 divisional round Steve Smith did this to the Bears. The NFL does not want you to see their content here. Vox has cooties now that they’ve assimilated The Dodo. In words though, in words! and numbers! Smith caught 12 of 13 targets for 218 yards and two touchdowns and rushed three times for 26 more. He made of Chicago a rug.

Against Seattle Jake Delhomme did not even target Smith until the third play of the third drive 3rd and 10 from the Panthers 29. When he did, this happened.

God damn did I love rookie Lofa.

After Smith led the NFL in receiving

YAR

targets to him in the conference championship resulted in 9 EPA lost. Only two receptions gained value and the greater part of that value was a roughing penalty for Babs whuppin’ Smith’s ass in garbage time. Call it pre-revenge for Ken Lucas, a lateral hop on the mobius strip of karmic time.

Seattle’s method of covering Smith was simple but extremely effective. They jammed him at the line and bracketed him through his route.

In 2005, Smith accounted for a staggering 48.5% of his team’s passing yards. Keep in mind when reading that stat that I’m wired and hungover and worse and all stats are offered as-is. This is fudging it a bit because of the highly specific nature of DYAR calculations, but Smith averaged about 3.4 DYAR a target in 2005. Every other pass attempt by Delhomme averaged about 0.3 DYAR. By my beery calculations that’s like 11 times the efficiency when targeting Smith.

Now that I’ve impressed with my oldness, let’s talk Cooper Kupp.

Seattle needs to show that kind of inspiration today. Have Seneca run a route–figuratively speaking. Do something brave on defense. Here are three simple and easy to implement suggestions.

Tighten up zones

Last week Seattle let Davis Mills and Davion Davis get away with this nonsense.

Davis sits down in the continent of space between defenders, catches and splits the converging Seahawks for a really infuriating 17-yard gain. Jordyn Brooks’ spacing, read, react and angle are all trash.

(excuse me for a second my cat Wallace just puked up a bee mimic)

Kupp is making a legitimate MVP run doing this junk. It’s sorta post-modern Largent.

I found this in a Joe Posnanski post biting one of my most scintillating takes from the book.

Kupp is sorta post-modern Largent in that he creeps on the defender running half-speed but instead of surging past in a gear-changing burst, Kupp, with great suddenness, surges into the softest spot of the zone he can find—typically backward and thus beneath coverage. He feints slowness to stay underneath. It’s a maddeningly simple strategy that doesn’t seem hard to stop, in theory, but which googolplex times this season has resulted in something like this comic zoetrope.

Watching that I feel like Krusty after he bet on the Generals.

He’s jogging his route! Just cover him! Cover the big slow guy!

But that’s sorta the *cough* genius of it. It’s simple and obvious and diabolical.

Largent took full advantage of the Mel Blount rule. Kupp crafted his tactics to exploit an unintended consequences of rules governing defenseless receivers &c. The old school solution to Kupp’s endless rinky dink improvised routes would be delivering a few CTE starter kits to the broadside of his dome. To blow him up, basically. That’s rightfully banned, though who knows if it’s at all helping, but the upshot is that receivers can be positively impudent working over the middle.

Brooks, in particular, needs to leave his fall residency in the Doldrums and join his teammates. Guy’s so loose and lolling in coverage it’s staggering. How does one allow 69 targets to be converted into 57 receptions and 671 yards? And I get some of that’s schemed in, but there’s bend but don’t break, and there’s the kind of Gumby defense which can’t even stop a clock-killing drive.

Seattle has the sloppy chest of zone defenses. It’s saggy, unsightly and probably harboring a fatal heart condition. It’s time for some Hindu pushups. That is, if I may clear my head with some of this fine Gasolina, it’s time for bad process and bad results to stop being justified by a ludicrously anomalous scoring defense. It won’t last! Seattle defenders need to leave less cushion, react faster, and close with authority when Kupp targets spaces between zone defenders.

Watch Stafford’s Eyes

They are so blue and sparkling, after all.

Matthew Stafford throws to Kupp with anticipation. That’s hard to do because Kupp often runs routes like Charlie Parker played saxophone. So how does Stafford target him before he’s out of his break?

He watches Kupp run his whole damn route.

That is, in the argot, he stares him down.

I don’t want to be like Julius Caesar showing only defeated Romans during my triumphal parade, so here’s a couple links to Stafford pick sixes that the NFL won’t let me embed for fear that taping mock kindness toward animals for internet clout might spread globally. I have been told my jokes are too recondite. But, really, they just don’t make sense.

Stafford stares, and when teams beat the Rams, defenders lock eyes with the boyish millionaire and follow them right to pay dirt.

Communicate better against no huddle

I’m really running out of steam. That hangover quip was no joke. So little of it is, dear reader. Let’s knock this final little suggestion out before I fire up the Solo and crawl into a video game.

The Seahawks realistically cannot avoid no huddle. If they’re losing, it’s likely already worked. If not, it doesn’t matter. And if they’re winning, LA will be all but forced to use it. Better defense overall will reduce the Rams’ opportunities to run it, but that’s less a suggestion and more a demand. Play better! Better, damn you!

When the Rams do go no huddle, it’s imperative Seattle doesn’t make Quandre Diggs do this.

Because he does that when Seattle does this in coverage.

Think that’s called Cover 3 with 2 Spy in the House of Love. I’m writing all this for kicks so I’m not gonna anger my blood analyzing that shitstorm and assigning blame, but it’s a mess of at least two mismatched schemes, needless to say. And even though it means I am postulating on the body language of tiny figures made of a few thousand pixels, it sure looks like there’s some obvious confusion pre-snap.

Learn to talk to each other, Seahawks defenders. It may just be your season you save.

Alright, I’m pooped. Merry Christmas to those who celebrate and general merriness to the rest of you! Happiness is not too uncommon in adulthood but joy and merriness certainly are. Eh—

This is it, right? It’s been a rough season but we’re here. Facing a series of inglorious single-elimination games with no promise of making it even if the Seahawks win every one. It’s not fun like it was a decade ago. Win or lose, it’s tough to see too many of these dudes playing any part in the next great Seahawks team. For months I’ve vacillated between wanting this team to Chernobyl so bad heads roll and rooting them on remembering the parable of the 2011 Seahawks. And I’m stumped. I do not know what I want. I do not know what is right. But I’m impatient to see how this story ends.