Seahawks’ plan for DBs to be more aggressive could pay off quick

May 20, 2022, 12:40 PM
Seahawks Bears...
Chicago's Damiere Byrd catches a 2-point conversion over Seahawks DBs Ugo Amadi and Sidney Jones. (Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)
(Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

The Seahawks will roll out a new-look defense in 2022 under Clint Hurtt, who was promoted to defensive coordinator this offseason, and it will feature a change for their defensive backs that former NFL quarterback Jake Heaps is especially excited about.

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Hurtt joined Seattle Sports’ Mike Salk Show this week and detailed the team’s adjustment from a 4-3 defense to a 3-4 scheme, including some changes to the team’s zone coverage in the secondary, as well.

“You have two different principles when you play zone coverage in this league,” Hurtt said. “Some teams are spot drops where you’re really focused on hitting landmarks, and once you get to your depth, you got your vision on the quarterback and you’re melting and moving off the eyes of the quarterback and reading the shoulders and whatnot, where he’s going with the football, and then you’ve got to break and react on the ball. And the other side you can play is more of a zone matchup principle where you’re really playing bodies and pattern matching more so than playing in an area. … We’ve been a vision and break defense here for a really long time, and we’ll have some of those principles, certain calls that’ll stay alive, but the big thing right now is obviously the ability to pattern match, and you got to be able to react to the stems of receivers and whatnot, match up with people.”

So what about that piques Heaps’ interest?

“They are trying to be more aggressive in their coverage,” Heaps told his co-host, Stacy Rost, during Wednesday’s edition of Jake and Stacy. “Not by necessarily sitting there and saying we’re gonna play man-to-man coverage every time, or our safeties are going to be crowding more towards the line of scrimmage. That’s not necessarily the case. But the underneath coverage is not going to be sitting back with their eyes to the quarterback. They are going to be looking up receivers and tight ends and running backs that are going to be in routes.”

The benefit of that?

“It forces the windows to shrink in coverage. Now, it also puts guys in situations where they have to be in more man-to-man situations, and they have to be ready for that challenge.”

Heaps believes the Seahawks’ moves this offseason on defense have been made with that change in mind.

“That’s why I think that there was a desire to get younger, to get more explosive defensively,” he said. “So that they could play more of these match principles and not leave anybody on an island that they felt like could get exposed potentially.”

The Seahawks have struggled to get up to speed on defense over the first half of the season in each of the last two years, essentially playing catch-up against opposing offenses. Heaps thinks the new philosophy will fix that issue.

“I really like this change and this different attitude philosophically defensively, and I do believe it’ll put them in the best position because over the last couple years they’ve really been at the mercy of other offenses. ‘Let’s see if the offense can execute their game plan.’ Well, guess what? They’ve shown that they can execute their game plans at a very high level, and the last two years, the first halves of those seasons have been some of the worst defensive performances that we’ve seen in NFL history from a pass defensive perspective.

“They are not going to sit back and let that happen again, and that is something that I really, really appreciate and like about Clint Hurtt.”

You can listen to Heaps’ full thoughts in the Four-Down Territory segment of the podcast at this link or in the player below.

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Seahawks’ plan for DBs to be more aggressive could pay off quick