Every team in the NFL tries to establish an identity. They strive to do all things well, but each team presents a different challenge each week. The Baltimore Ravens will face a Seattle Seahawks team that defends well at all levels. Despite that, most of the attention has been paid to the Seahawks secondary.
Known as the “Legion of Boom” because of their hard-hitting style of play, the Seattle secondary is an elite unit. Richard Sherman continues to sit atop of the “shutdown” cornerback list. Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor have been the best safety tandem over the years as well.
This week presents a major test for a young, unheralded group of Ravens receivers. Chris Givens has faced the Seahawks numerous times during his days with the St. Louis Rams. Givens NFL rookie record five consecutive games with a reception of 50 yards or more started with a game against Sherman.
The Ravens are well aware of the qualities that this week’s opponent brings from a secondary standpoint. John Harbaugh pointed out a few that came to mind when he was asked to assess the Seahawks secondary.
“Anybody that watches football would say they’re physical. But they cover ground,” Harbaugh said. “They have range. They play the ball well. They’re all-around good safeties.”
The safety play is something that can help out against the run and the screen game. Thomas is an undersized safety, but he comes up and lays huge hits on receivers who catch the ball across the middle along with running backs that catch screen passes. Chancellor is an intimidator from the strong safety position.
Sometimes being the best doesn’t call for any kind of elaborate scheme, moreover all it takes is execution. Kamar Aiken pointed out how the Seahawks don’t do a lot of extra things in the secondary. He is correct in that assessment.
Seattle loves to run mostly cover three defense along with some man. They let Thomas play centerfield and help out against the deep pass. Chancellor plays the mid-range passing game with the mindset of an enforcer. He wants to give receivers something extra to think about when they are working the middle of the field.
“They pretty much stick to the basics, and they do the basics great and very well. They don’t ask them to do too much,” Aiken said. “And the stuff that they do ask them to do, they do it very well. They’re one of the top defenses in the league. They do what they do, and they do what they do well.”
The Ravens receivers as a whole are looking forward to going against Seattle. It gives them a good opportunity to measure themselves against the best. As a competitor, you always want to compete with the best and that’s exactly what they get this week.
Matt Schaub said he will try to be ready to go this week. He is anticipating the challenge of going against Sherman and said they will need to take shots at the big corner in specific situations.
“You have to understand the position he’s in, what type of coverage they’re playing – whether it’s a man or zone technique – and what routes you have called and your matchups – and also matchups elsewhere – and whether the play call dictates to go there or not,” Schaub said. “You have to understand what you’re up against. They have great players all over the field, so you have to be aware of all of that. But, you do have to be aware of throwing one-on-one routes and what he’s capable of on that side of the field.”
Seattle is a sound defense that is strong from the front to the back. They have the perfect marriage of pass rushers and cover guys. Both parts of the defense make each other better. The pass rush forces quarterbacks to make decisions quickly, which helps the secondary because they typically don’t have to cover as long.
“It’s very challenging because they challenge you on every layer of their defense – up front, linebacker level and in the secondary. You have to be on top of your reads, be on time,” Schaub said. “If your rhythm gets taken away – or your feet – you have to know where your check downs are and where those throws are, but you can’t hold the football. You have to hit your back foot, make a decision – let it go or check it down. That’s how you have to play against a team like this.”