Seahawks vs. Saints: Showdown in the Wild, Wild Qwest
You can find your Seattle Seahawks tickets for the playoffs and for the 2011 season on SeatGeek.
Charlie Todaro writes the Seattle Seahawks blog, How I Sea Hawks.
Seattle Seahawks Keys to Beating the Saints
Seahawks Coach Pete Carroll described his team as “more than fired up” for the opportunity to host the defending champion New Orleans Saints in the first round of the playoffs; “they are not scared of this game.”
1. Quick Strike Offense
Matt Hasselbeck returns for the Seahawks. The offense is accustomed to Hasselbeck’s up-tempo rhythm and snap count, a more explosive scheme than the game plan implemented last week with Charlie Whitehurst. Hasselbeck went 6 of 6 for 128 yards versus a pass rush of six or more in the week 11 matchup, partly due to his understanding of New Orleans defensive coordinator Gregg Williams. An explosive passing attack for the Seahawks begins with the running game, as guard Mike Gibson and right side of the offensive line anchored the Seahawks rushing performance last week. The Seahawks need to continue to include all four backs in the passing game and use hitch and go patterns to attack the Saints’ smaller, aggressive Cornerbacks; this will open up the middle of the field for Hasselbeck to find 1 on 1 matchups.
2. Stay Inside the Defense
The Seahawks Achilles heel on defense has been the unit’s inability to consistently follow the discipline of the scheme and poor performance on third downs; these breakdowns have led to long cutback runs, explosive screen passes and big pass plays. The Seahawks were 31st in 20+ yard pass plays allowed and 26th in 20+ yard run plays allowed. Last week the defense had the best game of the year, creating seven three and outs against the Rams. Saints Quarterback Drew Brees uses his footwork, poise, precision and football IQ to shred defenses that breakdown in coverage, such as the Seahawks in week 11. Coach Carroll has fully acknowledged the importance of staying inside the game plan if they are to limit Brees.
3. Defend the Mixing and Matching
The Saints dynamic offense uses many personnel packages and formations to create mismatches against opposing defenses; their unique packages and pre snap motion caused problems for the Seahawks in week 11, especially the four and five receiver, bunch formations. Reggie Bush split out wide, Tight Ends flexed off the line of scrimmage and Receivers in the slot against a Linebacker or Safety are just a few of Saints Coach Sean Peyton’s most common wrinkles. Situational Linebacker Will Herring, Safety Jordan Babineaux and Cornerback Walter Thurmond must have solid games if the Seahawks expect to defend Brees’ ability to spread the ball around to his plethora of weapons.
4. Find the Football
Both teams have struggled keeping the football this season, the Saints -6 and Seahawks -9 in turnover margin versus opponents; Brees has thrown an uncharacteristic 22 interceptions, while the Seahawks have turned the ball over 30 times. The Saints use play action and rollouts as preferred methods of developing clean throwing lanes for Brees. The Seahawks did a phenomenal job keeping their hands up at the line of scrimmage last week, deflecting many Sam Bradford throws, but caused only one turnover; they must change their fortune and win the turnover battle Saturday.
5. The Qwest Swagger
Showcased last Sunday night, the Seahawks are tough to beat when they are clicking at Qwest Field; the 12th man has been waiting for a game that exemplifies Pete Carroll’s version of championship football and the Seahawks brought it last Sunday. More importantly, the Seahawks need to bring it back out onto the field starting with pre game warm-ups if they are to get the crowd and intensity above the level of last week’s playoff atmosphere. Temperatures below 40 degrees and precipitation are expected Saturday as the Saints, who are used to playing in a dome, look for their first ever playoff road victory. The noise, weather and hostility must be a positive factor if the Seahawks are to advance to the divisional playoff.