Seattle Seahawks Keys to Victory Over the Bears
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.
Seahawks Keys to Beating the Bears
The Seahawks travel to Chicago riding the momentum of the 41-36 victory against the defending champion Saints, a win that shocked everyone except themselves; The Seahawks expected to win and fully believe in their brand of “championship football.” They are not overconfident heading into Chicago; last week has been left behind and the focus is strictly on the Bears.
Early down offense
The Seahawks must find ways to consistently gain 4+ yards on first down, as the Bears defense is one of the league’s toughest on first down and was 2nd in 3 and outs created; they are disciplined, well organized and can defend most situations with their base defense. Furthermore, Middle Linebacker Brian Urlacher will make it difficult for the Seahawks to rely on the early down run game.
In the week 6 meeting the Seahawks countered Urlacher’s presence by throwing to Mike Williams on first down, especially when the Bears committed an extra player for run support; Hasselbeck was 9 of 15 for 121 yards on first down. The Seahawks used five receiver formations, three receiver bunches and misdirection pass plays to create opportunities against the Saints.
Matt Hasselbeck has a unique understanding of the Bears defensive zone schemes. This will help Seahawks Offensive Coordinator Jeremy Bates mix formations and create mismatches on first and second down against the Bears base defense; The Offensive Line must protect Hasselbeck, especially from Defensive End Julius Peppers, for this strategy to work. Secondary weapons Ruvell Martin, Brandon Stokley, Cameron Morrah and Leon Washington must make an impact for the Seahawks to consistently move the football.
Contain Matt Forte
The Bears created offensive balance in the second half of the season by increasing the workload of Runningback Matt Forte. He is an every down back, extremely dangerous out of the backfield as a receiver; they often run from two Tight End formations to set up both play action and the screen game. The Bears will study the success of the Saints’ Julius Jones as a blueprint for how to unleash Forte; he has 90+ rushing yards in each of his last three games and will be lethal as both a runner and receiver if he is able to establish a rhythm early.
A balanced defense
Seahawks Defensive Coordinator Gus Bradley needs to call a smart and balanced game, using a variety of four and five man blitzes mixed with eight man coverage packages. The Seahawks rushed a Defensive Back on nearly 50% of defensive plays in the first meeting, confusing the Bears protection schemes en route to sacking Jay Cutler six times. In the past two games, the front four has created pressure and allowed the Seahawks to rush four or less on more than 90% of defensive snaps. Bears Offensive Coordinator Mike Martz has shifted the offense from the slow developing, big play scheme towards more three and five step drops aimed at getting the ball out quickly against the blitz. The Seahawks Linebackers, especially Will Herring and David Hawthorne, must take away quick throws and pressure Cutler for a balanced defensive game plan to be successful; they can’t allow Cutler to attack areas of the field vacated by blitzing players. Scheme breakdowns will create opportunities for Greg Olsen or Johnny Knox to make big plays. First time starting Quarterbacks are 5-19 in the playoffs since 2003 and Cutler will make mistakes if the defense remains balanced in its approach and plays within the scheme.
Win on Special Teams
Both teams ranked in the bottom six in offensive first downs per game and bottom third in time of possession per game; the Bears went 0-12 on third down in the first meeting. Special Teams and field position will play a crucial role in this matchup, as wind and cold weather will affect the kickers. Bears return man Devin Hester is the best ever; look for the Seahawks to be aggressive in stopping Hester, focusing on relentless pursuit and disciplined coverage. Leon Washington has three return touchdowns for the Seahawks, but has been quiet recently. He needs to set the tone for the offense and create explosive plays in the return game for the Seahawks to advance to the NFC Championship.