January 18, 2015; Seattle, WA, USA; Seattle Seahawks cornerbackRichard Sherman
(25) reacts with middle linebackerBobby Wagner
(54) after he intercepts a pass intended for Green Bay Packers wide receiverDavante Adams
(17) during the first half in the NFC Championship game at CenturyLink Field. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
The time between championship Sunday and the Super Bowl are supposed to be filled with analysis of the upcoming matchup for the Lombardi Trophy. And while there has been plenty of that, too much attention has been focused on this stupid deflate-gate business, and it is taking away from what may be the best Super Bowl matchup of all time.
I decided to go through the tape of Seattle’s overtime win over the Packers to try and decipher that secondary of theirs, and what I found was pretty interesting.
Here are a few thoughts:
Cover 3-Combo Coverages
Contrary to popular belief, the Seahawks don’t play exclusive man coverage. In fact, I would be willing to bet the Patriots play more single-high man, although I don’t have any concrete numbers to back that up. Instead, what Seattle does is run a lot of press cover 3, with some combo coverages thrown in there as well.
This type of coverage leaves the middle of the field exposed, as it puts a lot of pressure on the linebackers to cover tight ends and slot guys over the middle. The Packers couldn’t take advantage of that, but I think this plays right into the hands of the Patriots. Rob Gronkowski and Julian Edelman live against linebackers over the middle, and if Seattle continues to play this type of coverage, Tom Brady will take it all day long.
Man In The Second Half
Things changed in the second half of this game, as the Packers really struggled to move the football against Seattle. I didn’t take a specific count, but I don’t think the Seahawks did anything other than press man coverage in passing situations the entire final 30 minutes. And let me tell you, when they decide to do that, it is dang near impossible to find any openings. Richard Sherman even shifted inside to Jordy Nelson for four snaps in the second half by my count, which is something the Pats should definitely be aware of in 10 days.
To combat this suffocating coverage in the second half, the Pats need to get Edelman and Gronk involved. I know it may sound repetitive, but that truly is the key to beating this defense. Seattle has a terrific secondary, but nobody can match up with Gronk, and despite shutting down receivers much more talented than Edelman, Sherman and Maxwell might struggle with the quickness of number 11.