This weekend for my game preview I wrote how the Seahawks felt uniquely equipped through continuity and communication to throttle Chip Kelly’s offense.
They did it again on Sunday in a 37-18 rout of Kelly’s San Francisco 49ers that was 37-3 deep into the fourth quarter.
The official snap counts from the game show Seattle’s defense used the same approach Sunday as it did in holding Kelly’s Philadelphia Eagles to 139 total yards in 2014 -- still the lowest total Kelly’s ever coached: Minimal substitutions on a unit that features every-down guys that play multiple, varying positions depending on down and distance and the offense’s personnel:
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That’s seven of the defense’s 11 players playing 95 percent or more of the game. That also shows with cornerback DeShawn Shead playing every snap, the Seahawks started in nickel defense with Jeremy Lane as the fifth defensive back -- and stayed in nickel 77 percent of the snaps.
Kelly often creates mismatches and wins for his offense when his no-huddle schemes catch defenses with personnel they shouldn’t have in the game, because they are unable to consistently alternate in “sub-package” players such as pass-rush specialist or coverage linebackers. The Seahawks don’t have as many sub-package defenders. Rush end Cassius Marsh is one of their few; Marsh getting only 14 snaps Sunday shows how little Seattle used its sub packages on defense.
Kam Chancellor was an example of this Sunday. The strong safety dropped deeper down the field on passing downs. On running downs he was up near the line of scrimmage. Chancellor ended one 49ers drive when he lined up on the line like a defensive end, shed two tackles and forced the sweep run into teammates for essentially no gain.
The result: Kelly’s Niners had 132 total yards through three quarters, and just a field goal on the scoreboard. Those three, lone points came after Jimmy Graham’s fumble gifted San Francisco the ball at the Seahawks 30-yard line in the first half.
Seems the Seahawks have the formula -- and, more important, the versatile, experienced and meshed players -- to solve any offense and team Kelly presents.