New England Patriots vs. Seattle Seahawks Film Review: Carolina Panthers Show How To Stop Run Game


The number one key in Sunday’s matchup for the New England Patriots is to slow down Marshawn Lynch and Russell Wilson on the ground. It’s really simple actually, because if New England can accomplish this goal, I believe that will give them their fourth Lombardi Trophy.

Last night I took a look at Seattle’s week 8 win over the Panthers, because that was the game where it seemed like the Hawks struggled the most on the offensive end. Carolina did an excellent job throughout the game at limiting Lynch and Wilson on the ground, and it gives New England a blueprint for the Super Bowl.

Read Option Starts On The Edge

Stopping Seattle’s read-option game is all about discipline. Here Carolina does an excellent job clogging things up, as the edge man forces Wilson to hand the ball off to Lynch.

The safety then does an excellent job of converging to Lynch, while the circled defensive lineman quickly shed his block, and helped make the stop on Lynch.

Nowhere to go, play over.

Stopping this is pretty simple. It just comes down to execution, and staying disciplined as the defense. It starts with the last player on the line, and just forcing the ball back inside. Then it is up to the defensive lineman and linebackers to fill, shed blocks, and make the play.

Play Action Game

Seattle does an excellent job of moving Wilson in a designed fashion outside of the pocket to make plays in the passing game. As you can see below, it starts with a hard play-action fake, which ideally for the Hawks would suck everybody down, and leave Wilson with a clear path to the outside.

However the Panthers don’t bite, as 97 isn’t fooled. He stays with Wilson, which allows the linebackers to play tight coverage on tight end Luke Wilson down the field.

This forces a perfect throw from Wilson with a defensive lineman in his face.

As you can see, the throw is a bit off, and it results in an incomplete pass.

Like stopping the read-option, this all starts with the last man on the line. If he stays even with Wilson, and gets in his face, this whole play is blown up. However if he is sucked down the line, Wilson will either have a clear running path, or a wide open receiver.

Holding The Edge With DB’s  

The Seahawks like to get Lynch out on the perimeter in conventional formations, and when these situations arise, corners and safeties on the outside have to be aware. Here the last player on the line is sealed off, and if that defensive back doesn’t beat his block, Lynch probably has a touchdown.

Here we see the nice play made to get to Lynch, which is something that will be key on Sunday. This could be Darrelle Revis, Brandon Browner, or even Patrick Chung out there, and they must be ready.

More Read-Option

This is an instance where Seattle fools Carolina with the read-option. The defender circled is initially in good position, as it appears he will force the ball inside to where all of his teammates are.

However with some excellent ballhandling skills, Wilson fools him, and gets a wide open path to the outside.

This forces the corner locked up in man coverage to choose between Wilson and the receiver, and either way, he loses. He decides to go after Wilson, and leave his man wide open for a touchdown. Luckily for him, Wilson’s ball was way off, and it fell incomplete.

Again: This is all on the last man on the line. He needs to force this play inside, otherwise the defense is screwed.

Pass Rushing Lanes

This is not a game where you want the defensive ends rushing wildly at the quarterback. This isn’t Phillip Rivers standing back there, if you lose contain, Wilson will make you pay. Here the edge rusher comes too far upfield, and leaves Wilson a wide open lane.

Way too easy.

Bad Read-Option

The Panthers were awesome for the majority of the game in containing Wilson, but this is one example of the quarterback shaking free. The defender simply bites too hard on the fake to the running back, and Wilson has an open lane to the outside.

Here’s a different view.


More Bad Pass Rushing

Again, too far upfield, Wilson has easy running lane.

And nobody is going to catch him from behind.

More Read-Option

Here’s just another example of solid discipline, and excellent execution from the Panthers on the read option. The corner has eyes on Wilson to make sure he hands it off, and number 96 fights off a block to help make the stop.

It’s a team effort, but it requires individual discipline, and that will be key for New England.

What does all of this means? It shows Chandler Jones, and Rob Ninkovich have to be at the top of their game on Sunday. Stay disciplined on the outside, and force everything to the inside. Vince Wilfork, Jamie Collins, and Dont’a Hightower have to be excellent in shedding blocks, and clogging everything up for Lynch.

Jones and Ninkovich also have to be solid in their pass rushing lanes, because they absolutely cannot let Wilson have a free lane for a big gain at a key moment in the game.