Seahawks’ simplicity, Pats’ variety set up Super Bowl chess match

Jan 31, 2015, 1:13 PM | Updated: 11:20 pm
While Seattle sticks to its defensive script, the Patriots are known to change their offensive game...
While Seattle sticks to its defensive script, the Patriots are known to change their offensive game plan. (AP)
(AP)

Seattle’s strength isn’t simple.

It is, however, its simplicity.

Of all the adjectives that can be loaded upon this Seahawks defense, from ferocious to unyielding to just downright ornery, the term complicated is not one of them – and that’s going to be an asset against New England in the Super Bowl.

The strength of the Patriots’ offense is its variety, the ability to change game plans from one week to the next. The Patriots didn’t attempt a rush a single time in the second half of their divisional-round victory against Baltimore. One week later, New England rushed the ball 40 times in its blowout win over Indianapolis in the AFC title game.

And while no team changes its offensive game plan more than New England from one week to the next, no defense in the league changes less than the Seahawks’. They don’t have elaborate blitz packages. They don’t customize their coverage schemes. Heck, they don’t usually change which side of the defense their cornerbacks line up on.

That is the setup for a Super Bowl chess match that will begin with the Patriots’ first snap.

“They’ll start to unveil their game plan,” coach Pete Carroll said Friday when he joined “Brock and Salk” on 710 ESPN Seattle.

That will be a critical element in this game because while we can be reasonably sure what the Seahawks will run, the Patriots are going to come out with a custom-built game plan.

“That means that the adaptations that are made in the first 20 minutes of the game are really important,” Carroll said.

They’ve got to deal with us. It was a mantra for Seattle’s defense last season, and one that remains true this season. An opponent has to make Seattle adapt and improvise, and if the Seahawks come out and take their best punch without flinching as they did in last year’s Super Bowl, well, it’s going to be a long afternoon for the opposing offense.

No one thinks this game will be that lopsided. Then again, there’s been no one capable of knocking the Seahawks off their game plan over the past two months.

Not the final six regular-season opponents, which Seattle held to a combined total of 39 points. Not Carolina. And not even Green Bay, because while the Packers held a 16-0 lead in the NFC title game, that was more a result of field position than Seattle’s defense.

On Sunday, Seattle will face the team expected to be its biggest challenge. But given the Patriots’ propensity to change game plans, we’re still not sure what that challenge will look like.

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Seahawks’ simplicity, Pats’ variety set up Super Bowl chess match