Seattle didn’t make the playoffs Youth Jordan Akins Jersey , but its defense essentially did.
The scheme that carried the Seahawks to consecutive Super Bowls (2013-14) has become increasingly popular around the league. It helped Atlanta get to the big game last year and was the catalyst for Jacksonville’s stunning turnaround this season. It also got rave reviews down the stretch in Los Angeles and San Francisco.
In a copycat league, this is the one being emulated right now.
And for good reason. The Seahawks rode the scheme to six straight playoff berths between 2012 and 2016, and as more of Pete Carroll’s defensive assistants moved on to become coordinators and head coaches elsewhere, they brought it with them.
Now, it spans coast to coast.
”It really takes on the flavor of the coaches that are doing it, so they have their uniqueness,” Carroll said. ”But there are a lot of similarities.”
Similar results, too.
The Jaguars ranked second in the NFL in yards and points allowed this season, relying on their defense to mask offensive deficiencies. The Chargers ranked third in scoring defense, allowing just two opponents to top 21 points in their final 11 games. The Falcons (eighth) and the injury-riddled Seahawks (13th) weren’t far behind. The 49ers finished 25th at 23.9 points a game, but were considerably better over the final five weeks of the regular season. They allowed 19.9 points during a five-game winning streak that included victories against three playoff teams.
Los Angeles Chargers defensive coordinator Gus Bradley, Atlanta defensive coordinator Marquand Manuel, San Francisco defensive coordinator Robert Saleh, Atlanta head coach Dan Quinn and Jacksonville defensive coordinator Todd Wash all spent time in Seattle under Carroll.
Bradley, Manuel, Saleh and Wash were on the same staff in 2012. Former Oakland defensive coordinator Ken Norton also was there and had the Raiders playing the Seattle scheme until he was fired in late November.
”It’s good. It’s nice,” Carroll said. ”I love that the guys are getting the opportunities and they are doing stuff.”
Seattle players don’t seem as ready to credit anyone for doing it as well as they did while picking up the ”Legion of Boom” nickname in 2012.
”There is only one Seattle Seahawks,” linebacker Bobby Wagner said.
Maybe so. Seattle allowed the fewest points (14.4) and yards (273.6) in the NFL during the 2013 season and forced a league-high 39 turnovers. The Seahawks emphatically stated their case as a generational defense – right up there with the 1985 Chicago Bears and the 2000 Baltimore Ravens – with a 43-8 drubbing of Denver in the Super Bowl. The Broncos shattered an NFL record with 606 points during the regular season but were overmatched on the NFL’s biggest stage.
That same season, thousands of miles away, Bradley and Wash were building the foundation for Jacksonville’s current defense.
Two years later, Quinn was implementing it in Atlanta with some help from Manuel. Quinn’s offensive coordinator at the time was Kyle Shanahan Youth Darius Leonard Jersey , who saw the defense every day in practice and knew he wanted it to be part of his rebuild with the 49ers this season. He hired Saleh. And former Jaguars head coach Bradley resurfaced with the Chargers.
”It’s a very sound scheme that starts with stopping the run,” Shanahan said. ”It makes you work all the way down the field, so it’s extremely tough to get explosives on. It’s tough to go against. They make you work for everything, and it’s something that you don’t have to reinvent the wheel every week. It’s something that if you just do over and over and over again, it’s hard not to get better at it.”
The premise of the Seattle defense is that it uses an eight-man box to stop the run (one safety positioned close to the line of scrimmage) and a single-high safety who can get sideline to sideline in ”cover three” (a three-deep zone in which defensive backs split coverage areas into three sections). Cornerbacks play a lot of aggressive, bump-and-run coverage that works best when the four defensive linemen are pressuring quarterbacks. Linebackers are usually undersized and fast.
It’s a 4-3 base defense that incorporates many elements of the popular 3-4.
”We are all different in our own ways,” Manuel said. ”But … just the understanding of methodically making a team have to go 13, 14 plays to score and play with great red-zone defense and understand that taking the ball away is the most important thing. Plays are going to happen that are big, but if you eliminate the ones that you know are about to happen, offenses have to do something else.
”You call plays that guys understand. You can get exotic (and create) paralysis by analysis; guys are overthinking on the field. That’s part of what you see in this defense. I guarantee you in each one of these (Seattle-influenced) defenses, guys are flying around and playing fast because they’re not thinking.”
Regardless of the schematics and subtleties, the common thread is solid – more like star – players.
Seattle has Wagner, cornerback Richard Sherman, free safety Earl Thomas and strong safety Kam Chancellor, among others.
The Chargers boast disruptive pass-rushers Melvin Ingram and Joey Bosa, linebacker Denzel Perryman and cornerback Casey Hayward. They tied for fifth in the NFL with 43 sacks.
The Jaguars had the second-most sacks (55) in the league thanks partly to Pro Bowl defensive linemen Calais Campbell and Malik Jackson and budding star Yannick Ngak Whenever the Cubs come to town, their fans fill the stands at Great American Ball Park and their offense usually carries the day. Not so for the last two.
Eugenio Suarez hit a go-ahead homer off Jose Quintana in the fifth inning, and the Cincinnati Reds held on for their fifth straight victory Friday night, 6-3 over the Cubs .
The Reds have won the first two games in the four-game set, a recent rarity in the rivalry. It’s only the second time in the last two years that they’ve won back-to-back games in a series against Chicago. The Cubs are 43-21 against the Reds over the last four seasons.
Cincinnati’s winning streak is one shy of its season high. The Reds are last in the NL Central at 30-45.
”We’re playing really good baseball right now,” Suarez said . ”When you play like that Muhammad Wilkerson Jersey , good things can happen.”
Suarez’s two-run shot in the fifth inning off Quintana (6-6) gave him a team-high 16 homers and put the Reds ahead 4-3. Billy Hamilton and Joey Votto also singled home runs off Quintana, who had allowed only six earned runs in his last four starts combined.
Quintana hung a changeup on his second pitch to Suarez, who has four homers in his last six games.
”I just missed my spot – a bad pitch,” Quintana said through a translator. ”A bad time to have that happen.”
Suarez also singled twice and extended his hitting streak to a career-high 12 games, the longest by a Reds third baseman since Todd Frazier hit in 14 straight in 2014.
Javier Baez drove in a run with a bunt single off Luis Castillo (5-8), and Kyle Schwarber followed with a two-run homer, his third in four games. Castillo went 5 2/3 innings for his first victory since May 24, ending a streak of four straight losses.
Raisel Iglesias retired the side in the ninth for his 12th save in 14 chances.
”That was one of our cleaner ballgames of the season,” interim manager Jim Riggleman said. ”We played a good ballgame – offensively, defensively, ran the bases well, timely hitting.”
Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo went a combined 0 for 8 with three strikeouts as Chicago’s offense struggled again, managing only four hits.
”We’ve played maybe two of our least-impressive games in a month,” manager Joe Maddon said. ”It’s just not been us playing our typical game.”
Left-handed reliever Brian Duensing was activated off the bereavement list before the game. He had been gone for four days to attend his grandfather’s funeral. The Cubs optioned right-hander Justin Hancock to Triple-A Iowa.
Cubs reliever Justin Wilson made a diving grab of Jesse Winker’s bunt in the seventh, landing on his chest while stretching for the ball. He was shaken up for a moment but stayed in the game.
Each of Schwarber’s last three hits has been a home run. Schwarber grew up in nearby Middletown and attended Reds games at Great American. He’s batted .318 in 30 career games against the Reds with nine homers and 25 RBIs.
TOP PICK, FIRST PITCH
Bengals center Billy Price threw a ceremonial pitch pregame, bouncing it to the plate. Price was the Bengals’ top pick in the draft.
Cubs: Yu Darvish could begin a rehab assignment next week. He threw 50 pitches in a simulated game without problem on Wednesday. Darvish has been sidelined since May 23 because of tendinitis in his right triceps.
Reds: Homer Bailey will make a rehab start for Triple-A Louisville on Saturday, throwing between 75 and 90 pitches. Bailey has been sidelined since June 2 with a sore right knee. He’s 1-7 with a 6.68 ERA.
Cubs: Luke Farrell (2-2) will make his first start of the season after a dozen relief appearances.
Reds: Anthony DeSclafani makes his fourth start. He was sidelined for the first two months with a strained oblique suffered during spring training. DeSclafani is 2-1 with a 4.60 ERA.