Game notes: Saints-Seahawks

Let’s take a look back at the Seahawks 41-36 upset win over the Saints in today’s Wild Card matchup out in Seattle. Five things that stood out from my perspective.

1. The Seattle offense: Aggressive. That is how you attack the New Orleans defense, because they play with speed, give you different looks and ask a lot of their secondary. Think about what we saw: the play action routes, the deep 7 (flag) route out of the bunch, plus the double-move once they crossed mid-field and the deep ball to WR Mike Williams. QB Matt Hasselbeck (22-35-272 yards-4 TDs-1 INT) performed at a playoff level and consistently challenged this New Orleans secondary. I was impressed that he could tear apart this Saints’ secondary.

Marshawn LynchICONLynch ran for 131-yards and a TD in Seattle's 41-36 Wild Card win.

2. Marshawn Lynch’s production: The 67-yard TD run was highlight material. Cut back, break tackles and use the ideal blend of power and speed down the field. But, don’t forget about what Lynch did throughout the rest of the game. Seattle wanted to run the ball to the open (weak) side vs. a slot look and give the RB options to make a cut. We also saw Power O (FB kick out, Guard pull), Counter OF, etc. This was a game where Lynch needed to play like a top pick—a feature back. Did we see that? I think so, and again, that is playoff football. Step up and perform. 131-yards on 19 carries for Lynch.

3. Roman Harper’s bad day: We talk about technique all of the time—footwork, hands, hips, etc. But as a DB in the NFL, your eye placement is crucial to making plays. Especially as a safety, the first step to any play in reading your keys—because they tell you where the ball is going. Three plays for Harper: the double move from TE Camron Morrah, the TE fall “throw back” and the deep 7 route to Brandon Stokley out of the “spot” combination (Flat-Curl-7). Those are plays you can’t give up in the post season and expect to come out with a win. Use your eyes, read your keys and understand what the formation alignment is telling you. That’s part of the NFL.

4. The Saints offense: Drew Brees threw for over 400-yards, but he also attempted 60-passes today in the loss. That’s too much on the playoff stage and although they did get some tough inside running from Julius Jones, this was a drop back offense today. How did Seattle respond? Play coverage and force the check down. I wanted more from RB Reggie Bush, but outside of the screen game and the sprint draw in the gun, he didn’t have that much of an impact. Again, it shows us that having some sense of balance to the game plan makes a difference.

5. X’s and O’s—the Williams’ TD: Let’s break down the 38-yard TD pass from Matt Hasselbeck to WR Mike Williams. The Saints are playing Cover 7 (combo-man) vs. a stacked WR look from Seattle. What the Saints want to do is “double” Williams (the No.1 WR) with the CB and the FS. If you watch the play again, Darren Sharper sits hard inside (on a 3rd and 2 situation) to take away any inside cut, while Jabari Greer plays with outside leverage. This is a “slice” call in the New Orleans playbook, and it is big in situations where you want to take away a 3-step route. The only problem? Williams releases vertically up the field, splits the CB and the FS and runs the 7-cut for the TD. Both Sharper and Greer were sitting short to make a play on a quick route.

Check back to the NFP after the Jets-Colts game for my game notes.

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