The Seattle Seahawks dominant defense is the story following their historic 43-8 blowout win over the Denver Broncos, and they definitely deserve all the praise they are getting. Their defense is so deep and talented that they have maybe 20 players who could be starters in this league, and their defense is one of the best of all-time. Not only that, but head coach Pete Carroll and defensive coordinator Dan Quinn are two of the best defensive-minds in the league; there is no doubt about that. They both came in with a perfect game-plan to stymie Peyton Manning and the “Four Horsemen”, and the impeccable results speak for themselves. If you want more information of some of what they did, then this must-read piece will do a better job of explaining it than I can.
What I can tell you is that offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell shouldn’t go unnoticed in all of this, because he also came into last night’s Super Bowl showdown with a near-flawless gameplan. Like Quinn, Bevell is also touted as one of the best coordinators in the NFL, and he also received some head coaching interest before ultimately deciding that sticking with one of the best organizations in NFL history was the wisest decisions. Despite some of the criticism he’s received from a few Seahawks fans for being “too cute” and the like, he’s done an amazing job as the team’s coordinator (just look at how much he’s aided the development of Russell Wilson and his underrated group of WRs) and may have been at his best last night.
Sure, Bevell had it easy due to the help he received from the Seahawks defense, but it’s clear that the offense was hyper-efficient when breaking down the numbers. The Seahawks averaged 6.2 yards per play and were 7-12 on third downs. But the stats still don’t do justice to a gameplan that really impressed me when using the good ol’ “eye test”.
One of the most ludicrous talking points in the weeks before the Super Bowl was, “How can the Seahawks incorporate a guy into their gameplan who has only played on a limited basis in two games all season?” Seriously, that might be the dumbest question ever, and there are a few reasons why:
1. You are essentially wondering if an NFL coaching staff knows how to draw up plays for a star player they acquired many months before.
2. Darrell Bevell is one of the most creative offensive coordinators in the league, and (here comes the kicker) he worked with Percy Harvin extremely closely for two successful seasons.
3. It’s as if they believed two weeks to prepare for a single opponent was too difficult for an NFL team to accomplish, and that they would have to completely revamp their plays solely to get the ball into their best playmaker’s hands against the Broncos defense.
So yeah, none of it made any sense, and it’s obvious that Pete Carroll, Darrell Bevell, and the rest of the coaching staff know exactly what they are doing when it comes to X’s and O’s and the like. I mean, it’s part of the reason why they are the best team in the NFL and can develop talent on both sides of the ball so quickly.
Anyway, Bevell seemed ready to truly unleash some vintage Harvin, and it was awesome to finally watch the offensive coordinator who knows how to use Harvin best go to work. Bevell knows that Harvin is simply a mis-match maker as a rusher and is deadly on reverses, and his two reverses for a combined 45 yards were simply things of beauty. The 30-yard reverse had the Broncos defense confounded right from the pre-snap read, as they had to communicate to figure out how to cover him with nobody directly “shading” Harvin in coverage. And when he went into motion, the deal was sold, as Harvin had a vast amount of space on the left side (nice blocking from the always-underrated Doug Baldwin helped that play go for even more yardage), and that was definitely a great play-call.
The Seahawks ran the ball frequently up the middle and stuck to their identity as a rushing team, even though the Broncos are easily better at stopping inside runs than they are at stopping outside runs. Terrance Knighton beat Max Unger pretty handily, and the Broncos did a great job of shutting down Marshawn Lynch. But running it up the gut was never about gaining yardage; it was about wearing down the Broncos defense and setting up play-action pass. The Broncos were so worried about runs that their LBs were consistently sucked in by the play-action, leaving nice intermediate gaps for Wilson to rifle it into. Great work.
One last part of the Seahawks offensive gameplan that I was a fan of has to do with their ability to stretch the field. They ran frequent three and four-wide sets to stretch the field horizontally, which took advantage of the Broncos lack of depth at corner, thus leading to favorable matchups against the overmatched Tony Carter (and others). Spreading the ball around among receivers and using different looks to stretch the field wide really helped the ‘Hawks out, and it’s something I highlighted in my keys to victory before the game.
Darrell Bevell is one of the best offensive coordinators in the league, and he deserves some praise (most of it should go to the players, specifically Russell Wilson, for excellent execution) for the Seahawks efficient display on the offensive side of the ball. They pounded the ball on the Broncos, opened up play-action lanes, spaced out the defense with quick passes, and they also took a couple of customary shots downfield for good measure. The goal was to play controlled, efficient football with the lead, and that’s exactly what they were able to do, while mixing in a couple of creative plays for good measure.