By Brady Henderson
Russell Wilson isn’t just expecting the Saints’ defense to bring all sorts of pressure when the Seahawks host New Orleans in Saturday’s divisional-round playoff game.
Seattle’s quarterback is welcoming it.
“For me, I like the blitz because there’s a lot of green grass behind it,” Wilson told 710 ESPN Seattle’s “Brock and Danny” on Wednesday.
Russell Wilson and the Seahawks had no problems with the Saints’ aggressive defense back in Week 13. (AP)
“If we make a play, if we make a catch, if a guy makes a run, it’s going to be big yards behind it. So that’s what we want. We want them to bring pressure hopefully, and hopefully we can stand up to it and make the throw and get protected up and the guy makes the catch and keeps running.”
That’s a pretty good summary of what happened when Seattle beat New Orleans 34-7 back in Week 13, especially on one second-quarter play in which the Saints sent eight defenders after Wilson. That left the back end of their defense vulnerable, allowing receiver Doug Baldwin to get wide open for a 52-yard gain.
Wilson was sacked just once despite all the pressure New Orleans sent his way, finishing the game with 310 yards on 22-of-30 passing, three touchdowns and no interceptions. His 139.6 quarterback rating was his second best of the season.
When they weren’t coming all-out after Wilson, the Saints at times sold out to stop Marshawn Lynch. That also created opportunities for Seattle, like when Wilson found tight end Zach Miller for a 60-yard gain off of a play-action pass in the first quarter.
“All game long they tried to play a lot of zero looks and that just puts everyone on a man,” Miller said afterward, referring to a defense that calls for man-to-man coverage and no deep defender. “The guy who had me bit on the run and so I got behind him so fast.
More coverage previewing the game.
|• Pick’em | ‘Pete Carroll Show’ | John Clayton||• O’Neil: Hawks mantra: They deal with us||• O’Neil: QBs Wilson, Brees play different roles||• O’Neil: TE Jimmy Graham is the mismatch||• O’Neil: FS Earl Thomas is the equalizer||• O’Neil: WR Percy Harvin is the wild card||• Moore: Don’t expect another blowout win||• Moore: Harvin should be turned loose||• Huard: Seahawks should be able to run||• Henderson: Carroll stressing right mindset|
“They were really coming after us. They wanted to stop the run, they wanted to get up in our face and create pressure, create problems for Russell Wilson, and every time they ran zero we were able to beat them.”
That was nothing out of the ordinary for the Saints or coordinator Rob Ryan, who’s known for his aggressive defenses. It’s fair to wonder, though, whether personnel changes on both teams could influence the Saints’ defensive gameplan this time. Seahawks receiver Percy Harvin could be available. Saints safety Kenny Vaccaro won’t be after breaking his ankle in Week 16.
Either way, Wilson and the Seahawks will be ready.
“I think the biggest thing for us is that we’ve got to expect the blitz 100 percent of the time,” he said. “That’s what we always talk about, especially against Coach Ryan. He’s a great, great coach, he knows what he’s doing. So we’ve really got to expect the blitz all the time and just salvage the play if it’s not there, don’t force it but keep it moving.”
Follow Brady Henderson on Twitter @BradyHenderson.