Seahawks: Brandon Browner and the return of the bandit


The return of Brandon Browner to the Seattle Seahawks also means the return of bandit: a sub-package the Seahawks used in Pete Carroll’s first two seasons with the team.

The Seattle Seahawks left many of us quite confused when they brought back cornerback Brandon Browner. Time hasn’t been kind to the physical defensive back. While he was never fast, he’s now considerably slower and simply has no business covering most NFL wide receivers.

Turns out that the Seahawks had something else in mind for Browner. He’s now a safety, and head coach Pete Carroll has said that he expects Browner to see plenty of action in both the base defense and in the nickel.

Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor aren’t going anywhere; neither is going to leave the field just so Browner can play. Yet Pete Carroll talked about using Browner in both the base and nickel defenses as matchups require.

How is that possible? The Seahawks will be bringing back the bandit.

The bandit was a sub-package the Seahawks used extensively back in 2010. That year the starting safeties were Earl Thomas as a rookie, and veteran strong safety Lawyer Milloy. Pete Carroll dreamed up the bandit as a way to get another rookie on the field; that player just happened to be Kam Chancellor.

The bandit created a triangle with Earl Thomas as the lone single-high safety. Chancellor and Milloy would both be up near the line of scrimmage, typically with the two on opposite sides of the line.

This alignment gave the Seahawks a nice balance. One would essentially be playing the SAM linebacker, with the other filling the role of the strong safety. Which safety played each role was determined by the offensive formation.

This alignment also made it easy for the Seahawks to disguise their intentions. While both Chancellor and Milloy would often drop back in coverage, the Seahawks would occasionally send Milloy as a pass rusher.

Seattle had a similar package in 2011 with Atari Bigby as the third safety, but they used it fairly rarely. It was clear that the Seahawks were phasing that package out as the quality of their cornerbacks was improving.

With Browner now back as a hybrid safety, the bandit will be back as well. It is hard to believe they’d use him as a pass rusher though. Browner is a lot of things, but he isn’t a guy you want rushing the quarterback.

What we don’t know right now is how much the Seahawks will use this package next season. Pete Carroll said it will depend on matchups, but he hasn’t gone into specifics on exactly what types of matchups will cause the Seahawks to break out the bandit.