To Blitz or Not to Blitz? That is the Question for the Seahawks.

Mike Sando at ESPN recently broke down the defensive stats for the Seattle Seahawks while pointing out the dilemma that they face on Sunday against the Bears:

“Back in that Week 6 game at Soldier Field, Seattle rushed at least one defensive back 44.7 percent of the time, a season high. The team recorded five of its six sacks on these plays, one reason the Bears failed to convert even once in 12 third-down opportunities. Seattle sent five-plus pass-rushers 55.3 percent of the time during its 23-20 victory, the second-highest percentage for Seattle in a game this season.”

“The Seahawks sent four or fewer rushers 89.7 percent of the time against St. Louis in Week 17 and 91.7 percent of the time against New Orleans in the wild-card round. The Seahawks hadn’t sent four or fewer rushers so frequently in any game through Week 16. The 91.7 percent figure was the highest for any NFL team in any game during the regular season.”

So you are left with Sando’s question.  “What will Seattle do?”

The Bears have to be wondering the same thing.  According to Vaughn McClure at the Chicago Tribune, offensive line coach Mike Tice, at least, thinks the Seahawks will blitz:

“They’re going to have to find a way to get to the NFC Championship game. If you’re playing the Bears, then you have to test them and see how much better they’ve gotten.”

Its easy for Tice to say that.  Most people in his position need to plan for the worst and then be happy if it doesn’t materialize.  Putting pressure on the line through constant blitzing would be his worst nightmare whether the line handles it well or not.

But I think may be right in this case.  The Bears line is supposedly a lot different from the one that faced the Seahawks the first time around.  The Bears thought the film of that game was pretty bad (via Sean Jensen and Neil Hayes at the Chicago Sun-Times):

“‘It was kind of tough to watch,’ tight end Greg Olsen said. ‘We weren’t where we thought we were, even at the time.'”

Indeed, according to McClure, Tice decided not to show the whole film to the linemen this week:

“‘I kind of moved on, the game was so bad,’ Tice said of the regular-season meeting between the teams. ‘I looked at 19 plays with the line the other day and decided I couldn’t do that to them. It was that bad.'”

Well, here’s hoping he at least showed them the film of the Packers game.  The Bears consistently broke down against the blitz in that last regular season game, especially the delayed blitz where a linebacker hesitates for a second and then shoots in.

If you are the Seahawks you have to test the Bears line, at least to some extent.  You have to find out if that was an aberration or the result of a line that really hasn’t come together quite as well as everyone is saying it has (its probably a combination of the two).

My guess is that you look for Seattle to threaten the blitz a lot to try to confuse the Bears offensive line.  How often they actually bring pressure will probably depend upon how successful they are.  But just threatening may be enough to keep them uneasy on their feet and thinking about the possibility.

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