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To blitz or not to blitz: Seahawks face tough choice

Jay Cutler

Seattle arguably played their best regular season game in Chicago, beating the Bears 23-20 on October 17.  It was one of only two road wins for Seattle and the victory didn’t come from special teams or turnovers.

(In fact, Devin Hester’s punt return touchdown made the game closer than it needed to be.)

ESPN.com’s Mike Sando points out that the Seahawks’ approach in Chicago differs drastically from what they’ve done the last two weeks.  Back then, the Bears’ offensive line was in shambles and Seattle attacked.

Sando writes that the Seahawks blitzed 55.3% of the time against the Bears, their second highest number of the year.   Seattle rushed at least one defensive back 44.7%, their highest all year.  Chicago handled the blitzes terribly, giving up six sacks.   The Bears didn’t convert a single third down in the game.

The Seahawks won the last two weeks with a very different approach.  The Seahawks blitzed only 10.3% of the time against the Rams and 8.3% of the time against the Saints.  Coach Pete Carroll tried to cover up his secondary deficiencies by flooding passing zones with defenders.

Chicago is a very different offense than it was in October.  Doug Farrar of Sportspress Northwest broke down some reasons why earlier this week.   It comes down to improved offensive line performance, and a newfound commitment to the running game.

The playoffs are all about adjustments, especially when the two teams played in the regular season.

Carroll must decide if aggressiveness is still Seattle’s best policy.

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20 Responses to “To blitz or not to blitz: Seahawks face tough choice”
  1. phinfan says: Jan 12, 2011 1:23 PM

    Follow Miami’s strategy and you’ll lower the point spread. Only problem with Miami was we couldnt get in the endzone.

    And FYI: DONT KICK TO HESTER!!!!

  2. JMil_ATL says: Jan 12, 2011 1:27 PM

    You’ve got to get pressure on Cutler. He is too good when left alone. When enough pressure is on him then he’s as charitable as anyone should be from Santa Clause, Indiana. Ask DHall from the Skins.

  3. nothimagain says: Jan 12, 2011 1:40 PM

    Seattle also had Red Bryant on the end when they played last time. His absence this game will be huge.

  4. huskerguy says: Jan 12, 2011 2:03 PM

    Green Bay had a fun day with that O-line a couple weeks ago. 6 sacks I think… Hmmm…

  5. trollhammer20 says: Jan 12, 2011 2:09 PM

    It is true that Red Bryant played the first game…but Brandon Mebane did not. Mebane has been huge the last two games against the run, and was personally responsible for several failures on short-yardage situations.

    It’s also kind of hard to gauge how much a team will miss a run-stuffing DE when the Bears ran the ball so few times that first game.

  6. theytukrjobs says: Jan 12, 2011 2:12 PM

    Stop the run and try to take away deep passes. Force Cutler to consistently disect your zone with short passes. Occasionally flood those short zones with defenders and occasionally unleash corner blitzes, heavy overload blitzes, and zone dogs.

    Cutler usually falls apart if you don’t give him his big plays. And he also tends to get comfortable if you keep giving him the same look so it is good to be predictable for a while and then change it up.

  7. gilmour93woo says: Jan 12, 2011 2:21 PM

    FEAR THE BEAK and don’t kick to Hester! Cutler will fail! I would like to see the Seahawks win this one, but don’t think it will happen.

  8. blackfootkiller says: Jan 12, 2011 2:34 PM

    Why all the hype for the Bears? They only beat 3 teams with a winning record all season, and just squeaked by in those 3 wins.
    They haven’t dominated any games, they were and are a very beatable team.
    All of these people and talking heads that think the Bears are going to run away with this game with no problem are either deluded, or Bears homers. If you can’t see all of the faults that this ‘average’ Bears team really has, you don’t watch enough football.

  9. nothimagain says: Jan 12, 2011 2:58 PM

    True about Mebane, but aside from Martz, part of the reason the Bears didn’t run the ball much is because Forte and Taylor has less than 20 total yards on 11 carries before Taylor got 25 against a defense playing the pass.

    After that game Seattle was right by Pittsburgh with less than 3 yards allowed per rushing attempt. Different story the rest of the year when Bryant got injured 2 games later.

  10. shorttracknews says: Jan 12, 2011 3:05 PM

    And if you don’t see the Seahawks caught lightning in a bottle last week playing at home with a injury riddled Saints team then you don’t watch much football. Everyone puts the Bears down and I don’t know why. Only thing that matters in the NFL is wins and losses. They can only play the teams put on their schedule. They beat Dallas with Romo playing before the wheels fell off, they beat the Vikings twice, they beat the Eagles when they were the hottest team in the NFL, they beat the Packers, beat the Jets. And I always love how people say the Bears “squeaked” by in most of their games. It’s the NFL where anything can happen, I mean heck the Browns killed the Patriots this year. If the ball bounces different a few times sure the Bears could have went from 11-5 to 9-7 very easy. But they also could have went 14-2 so it works both ways. When the O-Line was horrible and the new offense was still meshing they lost to weaker teams in Seattle by 3 and Washington by 3 in games they should have won. They lost to the Packers by 7. The Giants game was 10-3 midway through the 4th quarter before the Giants put it away 17-3 in a game Cutler didn’t play the 2nd half. The only game they got spanked was against the Patriots, who rocked a lot of teams. They beat the Jets by 42 and yet the Jets are still in the Playoffs.

  11. chadman128 says: Jan 12, 2011 3:13 PM

    Black thats a little unfair. Yea I’m a Bears fan but I’m a realistic one at that. The O-line while better is not great, they have very average WRs and the Defense has probably played at a level beyond the talent they have. But thats been all season and they just keep winning. Give them some credit they beat the Packers the first time and barely lost the second game to them when nothing was on the line for them. They beat Philly when Philly was being talked about like they were the best team in the NFL. They beat the Jets in a very important game for them as well. You can only play the schedule they give you. This Bears team can beat any of the NFC teams in the playoffs I think. I also think if Cutler gets antsy any of these teams could beat the Bears. And last but not least they ended Brett Favres career which was golden in my book!!!

  12. lrt79 says: Jan 12, 2011 3:28 PM

    The Falcons beat 5 teams with a winning record.
    The Packers beat 4 teams with a winning record.
    The Colts beat 2 teams with a winning record.
    The Jets beat 2 teams with a winning record.
    The Chiefs beat 1 team with a winning record.

    It doesn’t matter what record your opponent has when your face them, it only matters that their record is worse when the game is over.

  13. scra22 says: Jan 12, 2011 3:56 PM

    lrt79 says:
    Jan 12, 2011 3:28 PM
    The Falcons beat 5 teams with a winning record.

    ====

    The Falcons beat 4 teams with winning records. They beat the Bucs twice, but the Bucs are only one team.

  14. rockinron2 says: Jan 12, 2011 4:08 PM

    The Falcons beat 5 teams with a winning record.
    The Packers beat 4 teams with a winning record.
    The Colts beat 2 teams with a winning record.
    The Jets beat 2 teams with a winning record.
    The Chiefs beat 1 team with a winning record.

    It doesn’t matter what record your opponent has when your face them, it only matters that their record is worse when the game is over.

    ——-

    Thanks for doing the research lrt79. I knew other teams didn’t have more than a handful of wins against winning teams either (with the possible exception of NE).

    @scra22 – So you can change it to they won 5 games against teams with winning records. The number of games is more important than the number of teams.

  15. hawkfan50 says: Jan 12, 2011 4:13 PM

    theytukrjobs has the recipe for success ; of course you have to blitz Cutler and apply pressure , but you have to change it up and give him different looks too …

    First order is to stop the run . Don’t kick to Hester ( and they better not kick to Washington if they know what’s good for them ) . Force Cutler into some hurried throws and take advantage of opportunities when they present themselves ; fumbles have to be recovered – picks have to be hung on to .

    I would expect Carroll to have a great defensive game plan ready with some new wrinkles thrown in they didn’t see the last time . Hasselbeck doesn’t have to play to the Superman level he did against the Saints , but he does need to be efficient and not throw picks or try to force things that aren’t there .

    .. this should be a good game , I would expect a fairly close matchup like the last time . Special Teams could wind up deciding this one .

    GO HAWKS !!

  16. sprtsfan1 says: Jan 12, 2011 4:42 PM

    Hawksfan, Hasselbeck is going to be more than Superman against the Bears D. The Saints D played like garbage and they had a completely unbalanced offense. The Bears scored 38 points against a good Jets Defense. You guys are going need to score a lot of points to beat the Bears. I just don’t see that happening.

  17. sprtsfan1 says: Jan 12, 2011 4:44 PM

    Hawksfan, Hasselbeck is going to need to be more than Superman against the Bears D. The Saints D played like garbage and they had a completely unbalanced offense. The Bears scored 38 points against a good Jets Defense. You guys are going need to score a lot of points to beat the Bears. I just don’t see that happening.

  18. trollhammer20 says: Jan 12, 2011 4:53 PM

    shorttracknews: How “should” the Bears have beaten Seattle in the first game? They got beaten on the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball. They were down 10 until Hester took a punt return to the house in the final two minutes. They had about 20 yards rushing until Taylor had a big run against a prevent defense towards the end of the game.

  19. juliusanonymous says: Jan 12, 2011 5:33 PM

    I cleaned up last week taking the Seahawks +11, and won $4000. I’ve got $2500 this week on the spread, Seahawks +10.5, and put another $500 at 3:1 on Seahawks +2, and put down another $250 at 12:1 on Seahawks -1.5.

    The only reason the lines are so wacked out with Seahawks this year is because Vegas has to balance the bets. Anyone who doesn’t take advantage of those record-breaking stupid spreads is crazy.

    There is no way Jay Cutler puts up 11 more points than the Seahawks. As long as Hasselbeck doesn’t have one of his 4-INT games, a 10.5 spread is RIDICULOUS. I know lifelong gamblers that are winning TONS on the ‘Hawks this playoff season. It’s like easy money, manna from heaven.

  20. deweyaxewound says: Jan 13, 2011 1:54 PM

    blackfootkiller says:
    Jan 12, 2011 2:34 PM
    Why all the hype for the Bears? They only beat 3 teams with a winning record all season, and just squeaked by in those 3 wins.
    They haven’t dominated any games, they were and are a very beatable team.
    All of these people and talking heads that think the Bears are going to run away with this game with no problem are either deluded, or Bears homers. If you can’t see all of the faults that this ‘average’ Bears team really has, you don’t watch enough football.
    ___________________________________

    Okay, go back and read your post again, except every time you use the word “Bears”, replace it with the word “Seahawks” and see if it still works…

    Oh, it does? You mean, in fact, it makes even MORE sense than it did before?

    Well heck, that’s the NFL for ya, Corky.

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