Best defensive scenario for Seahawks versus Titans – contain the running game
The Seahawks defense has been exceptional so far this season. To stay at that level, Seattle must keep the Titans running game under control.
The Seahawks offense has been, shall we say, less than good. The defense has been lights out. The Legion of Boom and and the D-line of Doom held Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers to 17 points. Note that point total includes a six yard “drive”. In week two, the defense held the San Francisco 49ers to three field goals. Not that the 49ers are a dynamic offense, but they did hang 39 points on the Los Angeles Rams this past Thursday.
That being said, the Tennessee Titans present an entirely new challenge to the Seahawks defense. The Titans emphasize the running game much more than the Packers or even the 49ers. Tennessee ranks seventh in the NFL in rushing, chewing up yardage at a 4.8 yard average. DeMarco Murray is still questionable for the game, but that doesn’t make things any easier for Seattle’s front seven. Derrick Henry has flourished this season with the the extra work. He’s piled up 117 yards on 20 attempts for just under six yards per carry.
This is where Sheldon Richardson can be a huge boost to the Seahawks. As the News Tribune‘s Greg Bell writes,
"It’s not often in the NFL a defensive tackle is a huge key to a game. But the 6-foot-3, 295 pound lineman will be critical to stuffing the Titans’ attempts to run Derrick Henry between the tackles of their excellent run-blocking offensive line.If Richardson is as difficult to move for the Titans as he was for the 49ers and Packers, Tennessee’s game plan will change."
Keeping Henry and Murray (if he plays) contained is just one part of the winning scenario. The second part actually has two factors of its own.
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Seahawks have to contain Marcus Mariota as well
Our own Steve McGrain has an excellent piece on how the Hawks can contain Mariota. I recommend you jump right over to that now. Just, make sure you pop back. Okay, so you’ve read that Michael Bennett, Cliff Avril, and Frank Clark have to play the containment game with Mariota and force him to stay inside. There he’ll have to deal with Jarran Reed and Richardson. Don’t forget Nazair Jones, who’s already shown he has a knack for making the big play. I agree with Steve on Bobby Wagner, too. Expect to see him shadowing the Titans quarterback on several plays.
That accounts (hopefully) for Mariota’s legs. As for the arm, look for more of Bradley McDougald in the big nickel package. McDougald is much better suited to playing run support than Jeremy Lane, so he can help handle the 238 pound beast Derrick Henry, as well as Mariota should he break free of containment. He’s also more adept in pass coverage than Michael Wilhoite. Expect healthy doses of Mr. McDougald today.
Of course, there are a couple of All World safeties waiting for Mr. Mariota when he does get into the secondary. I’m optimistic, but I’m not crazy. Mariota will get into the Seahawks secondary today. It isn’t a matter of shutting him down, but simply containing him as part of controlling the Titans run game. If the Seahawks can manage that, today’s game goes to the 12s.