RENTON, Wash. -- Bobby Wagner is in constant search for clues.
Whether the Seahawks middle linebacker is watching film or diagnosing a play pre-snap, he’s looking for tendencies that can give him an edge. Wagner's ability to piece those clues together is part of what has allowed him to become a Pro Bowler and one of the best in the league at his position.
"Throughout the game, you get a feel for how the game’s going, what their favorite plays are," Wagner said. "You get a good feel for guys’ body language. I like to read body language - how heavy they are in their stance, how light they are in their stance, how their foot is vs. run, vs. pass. Just little things, anything that makes me think faster."
For the most part, the feeling in the Seahawks' locker room is that the predictability story line is overblown. Offenses spend their practice time forming an identity and practicing their core plays over and over. A big part of preparation for the defense is watching film and identifying specific tendencies that can help before and after the ball is snapped.
"Teams, they’re going to run their stuff," linebacker K.J. Wright said. "They come out in a certain stance. You can probably take an educated guess on what play is coming, not saying you absolutely know what’s coming. It just comes down to film study and positional football.
"You don’t got a contract withth‘em. They don’t have to run what they show on film. So you don’t want to get into a guessing game. But you can try to put yourself in position where you think you know a play’s coming."
Added cornerback Cary Williams: "That’s the difference between great teams and average teams. Great teams can give off those tendencies, and everyone can know what’s going on in the building, but are you going to be able to stop those guys?
“You’re going to have some familiarity with what you see on the film, and some of that stuff is going to relate. Some of that stuff is going to turn up in the game. But it’s still about execution and going out there and finishing. Some people say that about our defense. We’re predictable. You see us every week. At the end of the day, it’s can you beat us at our best doing what we do best? I think it’s the same for offenses."
It’s a fine line for offenses. Their foundation plays are unlikely to change on a weekly basis, but they may add a wrinkle or switch up their signals to avoid becoming too predictable.
"You study the game long enough, you get everybody on the same page, people understand what’s coming, the way it’s coming, the formations, the adjustments, the hand signals, the depth of the quarterback, the depth of the running back," cornerback Richard Sherman said. "Everybody gets on the same page, it can make for really good defense when guys communicate and understand the plays."
In the days leading up to Monday night, Seahawks defenders will continue to look for cues and tendencies that can help them when the game starts. But they expect the Lions, like other offenses, to try to keep them off-balance. It's the back-and-forth that goes on each week in the NFL.
"We don’t know," coach Pete Carroll said. "I wish we did. You always know what they’ve done. You don’t know what’s going to happen in the game. They just tweak it here and there, move a guy a couple yards to one side or the other, and it changes everything for your indicators and stuff. It’s rare that that’s the case. We don’t even expect to know that stuff. Sometimes you get some. There’s tendencies and there’s athletes that are so good at what they do that you know the team is going to do that with them. I don’t see that happening very often."