Seahawks' pressure tactics, then and now

The approach Seattle's defense used to beat Chicago in Week 6 differs significantly from the one used in recent victories over St. Louis and New Orleans.

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 numbers, provided by ESPN Stats & Information, suggest the Seahawks thought Bears quarterback Jay Cutler and offensive coordinator Mike Martz might not handle the pressure very well. The Bears will presumably have a better plan when the teams face one another in the divisional playoffs Sunday.

What will Seattle do?

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.

A couple possible explanations:

  • Sam Bradford and Drew Brees get rid of the ball quickly enough to neutralize such tactics;

  • Seattle felt good about its matchups at defensive end, particularly playing at home.

Brees completed 4 of 5 passes for 45 yards and a touchdown when Seattle rushed five or more.

Also according to ESPN Stats & Information, Arizona schemed Brees similarly during its 30-20 victory over the Saints in Week 5.

The Cardinals sent five or more pass-rushers 9.8 percent of the time, the lowest percentage for any team against Brees during the regular season. Brees completed all four attempts for 78 yards and two scores when Arizona sent five or more, but he threw three picks in his other 35 attempts.

The first chart shows how frequently Seattle and Chicago sent extra pressure from Week 1 through the wild-card round.

2010 QB Pressure Packages: Weeks 1-18

The second chart shows how frequently Seattle and Chicago sent extra pressure during their Week 6 game.

2010 QB Pressure Packages: Week 6 Only