Film Review Friday: Scouting the Seattle Seahawks

Sep 11, 2016; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta Falcons head coach Dan Quinn reacts to a call during the game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during the second half at the Georgia Dome. The Buccaneers defeated the Falcons 31-24. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 11, 2016; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta Falcons head coach Dan Quinn reacts to a call during the game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during the second half at the Georgia Dome. The Buccaneers defeated the Falcons 31-24. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports /

In the second installment of Film Review Friday, we take a look at the Seattle Seahawks. This team has been a perennial contender with one of the best defenses in the NFL. In the 2nd straight week of facing a fierce competitor on their turf, we will see what it will take to increase that winning streak to 5 games.

It just doesn’t get any easier for the Atlanta Falcons. This coming Sunday, they face yet ANOTHER great team that has talent from top to bottom. The Seattle Seahawks are one of the best teams in the NFC and have always been a tough out for any team, especially when playing at home and that 12th man is involved. Today we take a look at the team and the possible game plan to add another win to the stat book.

Previewing the Defense

Well, this is the 2nd great defense that the Falcons have faced, and they’re just as good in key areas as any team in the league. The Seahawks are led by All pros on each level of the defense, so this will be yet another tall task by Kyle Shanahan in regards to game planning.

The Seahawks always seem to rank tops in the league in every statistical category defensively, and with good reason. This unit is highly athletic and all parts of the unit know and do their jobs well within the scheme that utilizes Cover 3 zone with man to man concepts.  The Seahawks can utilize this due to their great secondary, otherwise named the “Legion of Boom”.  They also have great Linebackers and a good pass rush tandem. With good secondary and the ability to rush 4 down linemen, the Seattle Seahawks make it tough for ANY team to gain traction offensively.

This is a play that shows a different wrinkle to Seattle’s defense. In most cases, you will see Earl Thomas play the Free Safety. However, in this case, you see Kam Chancellor as the single high with Richard Sherman playing Man against Brandon Marshall at the bottom of the screen on an X receiver isolation play. Sherman likes to jam his receivers at the Line of Scrimmage and Marshall beats him inside for a big gain as Chancellor was late giving help over the top.

How to game plan for Seattle’s defense? Richard Sherman will most likely shadow Julio Jones for most of this game because as of late, he’s been seen mirroring the team’s best receiver. Due to that, we will most likely see him on an island as the single high Safety may cheat to the other side of the field. To combat this, it’s time to utilize the best receiver in the game. As you can see, Sherman is long and physical, but not as fast. If Julio can beat his jam consistently, he will have another big day. Also expect Kyle Shanahan to move Julio around on the field to get better match ups.

Another element of the offensive game plan will again be multiple personnel groupings. Against the Seahawks defense, I expect to see a some base or ’12’ personnel and many different looks and plays (run and pass) from that personnel . We may even see ’21’ personnel (2 Running Backs, 1 TE) so Tevin Coleman and Devonta Freeman can be on the field simultaneously and motion out of the backfield to force other favorable match ups.  Again, I fully expect this part of the game to be about match ups and exploiting the most favorable for Matt Ryan. With this many weapons, there will be match ups to exploit.

Previewing the Offense

In my opinion, this will be the most crucial match up of the day if the Falcons are to stand a chance of winning. Russell Wilson is the head of this unit, and he can be a nightmare. He’s one of the more athletic Quarterbacks in the league and has an underrated arm.  Wilson also sees the field as well as any Quarterback in the league. Add Jimmy Graham getting back into the groove of things, and this offense can be a big problem for the Atlanta Falcon defense. Also, Coach Pete Carroll will be just as adamant to run the football as Coach Dan Quinn will.

In this game, The Seahawks used a lot of ’12’ personnel and they did so in many different ways, so I expect to see the same against the Falcons. They loved to use two TE’s in this game and every time, they provided different looks from that personnel. In this particular play, Graham stays in for max protection to give Wilson time to throw the football. As a result, on a play action pass, Wilson steps up in the pocket and finds Tanner McEvoy for an easy TD as he runs a post route from the Y(slot) position.

How to game plan for Seattle’s offense? Discipline, discipline, and more discipline. The Falcons will have to be disciplined with their tackling and gap control in the run game to minimize the run game, first and foremost. Now Russell Wilson may not be 100%, but that doesn’t mean he can’t hurt the Falcons in the air and on the ground. As a result, the back end of the defense will have to be just as disciplined when it comes to their zone and man coverage responsibilities.  I fully expect the Seahawks to attempt to exploit the Falcons’ youth in the middle of the field, which is the ‘sweet spot’ of the Cover 3. That’s where Jimmy Graham can be effective. Also, the defensive line will have to be disciplined when it comes to the pass rush. Wilson is much more athletic that what was faced last week. This group will have to rush as a unit to contain Wilson and not overshoot him around the edges.

Final thoughts

This will be quite a challenge for the Atlanta Falcons, and for multiple reasons. I just heard that weather will be a factor, but along with that, they will face a pretty complete team that’s notoriously difficult to beat on their home field.  If the Falcons are to win this game, it will be about execution and discipline on both sides of the ball. This is another VERY tough challenge, but again, if the Falcons can bring their ‘A’ game, this is also winnable.