Seahawks’ Cover-3 Limits Opposing Offenses
PHILADELPHIA (973espn.com) — The Seattle Seahawks aren't what they once were defensively but Carson Wentz understands things probably will not to be as easy as they have been for the Eagles when they visit CenturyLink Field on Sunday.
"The thing about the scheme that they run, and a number of other defenses run, it kind of cuts your playbook in half," the MVP candidate said.
The Seahawks' Cover-3 defense has been the league's best since Seattle began its run as a significant Super Bowl contender back in 2012.
It's a simple defensive scheme designed to allow its participants to play fast and Seattle amassed the talent to run it at a high level, starting with the now-famed "Legion of Boom" defensive backfield, a group with three All Pro-level talents at its core, cornerback Richard Sherman and safeties Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor.
These days, however, both Sherman and Chancellor are gone for the season and Thomas, a probable Future Hall of Famer, is left to lead a host of developing players on the back end.
Through it all, however, the Seahawks' continue to run Pete Carroll's championship-tested philosophy.
"Structurally, it's the same," Eagles coach Doug Pederson said when asked about the injuries. "Same defense, same scheme."
And the results have remained relatively consistent. The Seahawks have ranked in the top five of NFL defenses over the past five seasons and are currently No. 8 as they attempt to make the postseason for a sixth consecutive year.
"They lock in on route concepts," Wentz said "... They just play so fast."
At 7-4 Seattle is one game behind the Los Angeles Rams in the NFC West, the two teams 10-1 Philadelphia will meet on its upcoming West Coast road trip.
For Wentz Sunday's contest shapes up as a big "eye discipline game" because of Thomas' range on the back end and his understanding of opposing offenses.
"Any time you have a safety like that that kind of has free rein to be all over the field, that's big," Wentz said. "You have to kind of know where he is at all times and you have to pick up on some tendencies, and there aren't many. There aren't many, because he does kind of fly around. It seems like he's got no real responsibilities. It seems like coaches just kind of tell him to fly around and make plays."
It's not just Thomas, however, as Seattle Mike linebacker Bobby Wagner is a leading candidate for Defensive Player of the Year and his running mate K.J. Wright is as athletic as it gets while up front, Michael Bennett remains a versatile disrupter inside and out.
"They've lost some key players over there and [are] still an aggressive front," Pederson said. "Linebackers, I think, are -- this is, again, I thought Carolina's backers were extremely good. These guys are extremely good. It's a great set of challenges for our offense."
973espn.com Prediction: Eagles 27, Seahawks 17 (2017 Prediction Record: 9-2; vs. spread 7-4)
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973espn.com. You can reach him at email@example.com or on Twitter @JFMcMullen