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Seahawks Replay Booth: Defeating deception

Beating the defense, even when they disguise their intentions presnap.

Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

After the Denver Broncos' win over the Oakland Raiders, ESPN analyst and former Seahawk QB Trent Dilfer mentioned that the Broncos have a graduate level offense. I would like to take it a step further and say the Broncos have a PHD level offense and then the rest of the NFL is a mix of PHD and graduate levels. The point being that the level of play in the NFL is masterful. It is where the best football players and coaches in the world compete on a weekly basis.

Even a team like the Jaguars, who look destined to "win" the 1st pick in the draft, has talented players and coaches who can design plays to put them in a position to succeed. The only problem is that there are 31 other teams out there with more talented plays and quality coaching as well. The Seahawks are obviously one of those teams.

The following play provides an illustration of Gus Bradley, the Jaguars HC and former Seahawk DC, calling and designing a beautiful play. Despite this wonderful play design by Bradley, the Seahawks get a long gain against it with more talented players and terrific play design.

The play took place at the start of the 2nd quarter when the Seahawks had a 7-0 lead and were facing a 3rd and 10 from the Jacksonville 24. The Seahawks came out in "11" personnel and the Jaguars combated this with their nickel personnel. Where things got crazy is when the Jaguars first showed a blitz while being lined up in what could have been a cover 1 or cover 3 variant. However, despite being in an alignment that is usually reserved for the variations of cover 1 or cover 3, the Jaguars dropped into a Tampa 2 variant. Russell Wilson was unfazed by this deception, however, and delivered a nice ball to Golden Tate for a 20 yard gain.


When Darrell Bevell called this play he was probably expecting Bradley to be in a cover 1 variant because Bradley is a coach that believes in single high safety principals and mostly runs variations of cover 1 or cover 3. Why I believe Bevell was expecting cover 1 and not cover 3 is because the play is designed to beat cover 1 and not cover 3. If the Jaguars were in cover 3 then the corner routes that both Tate and Sidney Rice ran would have taken them straight into the CB. Additionally, the out routes ran by Marshawn Lynch and Zach Miller would have taken them right into the LB in the flat as well. However, the Jaguars were not in a variation of cover 1 or cover 3, but in a variation of Tampa 2.

Despite the defense's attempt to disguise its coverage and confuse Wilson, he remained poised as always and delivered a nice ball for a 20 yard gain. During his presnap reads, Wilson was probably thinking that the Jaguars where in a cover 1 variant that involved a single high safety and a blitzing LB. He even identified a potential blitzer at the line during his presnap adjustments. However, as he dropped back, he recognized that he was only being rushed by 4, the Jaguars were in a Tampa 2 variant, and consequently he had time to throw the ball downfield to an open Tate on a corner route.

Lesser QBs may have audibled out of this play when the defense first showed pressure or determined presnap that they were going to throw the ball to one of the out routes. They may have even panicked and prematurely scrambled once they figured out the coverage was not what they were expecting. Wilson did not do any of these things. He remained calm in the pocket, identified the disguised coverage, and defeated deception. The Seahawks would later go on to score the following play, take a 14-0 early in the 2nd quarter, and never look back.

Big up to Danny for the GIF!

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