Remember, way back when, before the 2010 Seahawks had even stepped on the field, our countless discussions on the Leo/Elephant end, the genius or folly of the 4-3 Under, the curious choice to keep Dan Quinn and Gus Bradley on the defense after arguably terrible performances last year? Remember those? I do. I’m glad we spent so much time discussing those things, because, ultimately, they were important and relevant to the discussion.
But now? Well, the focus has shifted slightly away from the 4-3 Under, and into a more defensive back focused defense. What do I mean? Well, in the game against Chicago, only 13 of 59 defensive plays employed our base 4-3 defense. Nickel was the most common formation, with 31 plays, Dime was used on three, and Bandit — seven defensive backs — was used on 12 plays, all passing downs. Against the Cardinals, the Base defense was used on 29 of 55 plays. The Bandit — again, 3 down linemen, Lofa, and 7 DBs — was used 17 times, again, all on passing downs. Nickel, Dime and 5-3-3 were used a combined 9 downs.
The Bandit defense is an interesting one. It certainly opens the team up to some vulnerabilities in the run game — which is why it’s only used on clear passing downs — but even that is somewhat misleading. With Lawyer Milloy, Jordan Babineaux, and Roy Lewis on the field and generally near the line of scrimmage (they’ve been the main characters used in blitz packages coming out of the Bandit), the Seahawks are not entirely vulnerable to the run. Whoever doesn’t blitz can drop back to cover the running back for quick outlet passes or draw plays. One primary plus of this package is that it might be the single fastest defense in the league when being used.
How effective has the defense been? So far, pretty damn effective. On the 29 snaps in the past two games, the Seahawks have 5 sacks (17%), opposing QBs have 9 completions for 95 yards on 24 attempts — good for a 37.5% completion percentage and 49.8 QB rating. Five sacks, nine completions, and just 57 net yards passing (passing yards minus sack yards) — that’s 1.97 yards per snap, all on passing downs. That is pretty incredible stuff.
The Bandit is an aggressive defense. It’s a confident defense. It’s the sort of defense you drop into and say “Go ahead, just try to beat us.” It’s not flawless — it leaves us vulnerable to a draw on third and eight, but again, the team trusts Lofa and the strong safeties to stop that. It allows for deceptive blitz schemes, and it puts our players in a position to frazzle opposing QBs. So long as we can keep teams quiet early with our beastly rush defense, the Bandit should allow us to steal a few more games before our offense can really get going.