We all know that pristine game plans can turn to diarrhea with turnovers, penalties, other bone-headed plays, and inferior talent. Weather can be a great equalizer, too.
But, if you could concoct a victory stew, what winning ingredients would you put in the success cauldron to win Week 1?
I’m going to take a stab at it, and I’d love for you to add your personalized tweaks down in the Comments section. Or tell me I’m stupid, and do the exact opposite of what I suggest. Like Joe Philbin.
And I thank the NFL scheduling douchebags who made my initial installment of this series such a difficult task - we’re going against the 1st ranked rushing defense and 2nd ranked passing defense from last year.
Well, let’s get to it.
Rushing: We have to run just enough to keep them honest, but I don’t see any game plan that involves a run-heavy approach that will be successful against Seattle. Run enough to be balanced, but understand the bigger plays will happen through the passing game - and maybe Might Mouse on special teams. In the end game, it’s better to have minimal rush success in the interest of keeping the defense off-balanced, than it is to become one-dimensional.
Despite the Rams’ poor performance on the ground in their week 1 upset of Seattle last year, the balanced play-calling allowed Nick Foles to throw for almost 300 yards, over 2/3 of those yards went to TE’s and RB’s. Play-action is still viable with a commitment to, I hate to say it, unsuccessful running, which is likely to be our reality on Sunday. We have the potential to be a dangerous play-action team if we can create an aura of a commitment to the run game.
Passing: You know what? - side bar - I like that Jarvis Landry said we weren’t going to steer away of anybody this weekend in Seattle’s secondary. I love the confidence.
With that being said, I think the dink-and-dunk is the recipe. 4 yards and an option route has become the new 4 yards and a cloud of dust.
In my previous post, I noted that I believe Arian Foster is a match-up strength on every LB Seattle has except KJ Wright. If Seattle sticks with their overall defensive scheme of press Cover 3, I look for Foster to have a huge role in any proverbial success through the air.
Arian Foster is a masterful RB route runner, and the angle routes can take advantage of the spacing left near the hashes as defensive players rotate toward their zones. Jarvis Landry, Kenny Stills, DeVante Parker, Leonte Carroo, and Jakeem Grant comprise an interesting mix of WR’s that I believe will put pressure on the back-end of Seattle’s defense, making the match-up of Arian Foster vs. Seattle LB that much more likely.
If Jordan Cameron can figure out how to catch a pass, that would really help in this game attacking the seam.
The ultimate hedge factor of the offensive game plan is the offensive line and how they control the front 4. And perhaps even more importantly, how the silent counts, audibles and adjustments go from a communication standpoint.
An already skeptical Seahawks offensive line was hampered by the injury to 1st round pick Germain Ifedi. I’m taking a quasi-Patriots*** approach to this game and rushing 4 most of the time - the more we are able to disrupt the pocket rushing 4, it will allow us to minimize our potential deficits in coverage from the LB’s and CB’s. But I’m not sitting on that plan for long if Mario Williams and Cam Wake aren’t winning their 1-on-1 match-ups on a regular basis.
Suh will be disruptive no matter what, in my opinion. I think the real action is on the edge, where hopefully we are not allowing Wilson to extend plays to the outside and allow their WR’s to get deep on improvised plays and/or allowing Wilson to run for big chunks of yards.
This will be a huge evaluation game for Kiko Alonso, as I look for him to “spy” Wilson, while also being an integral part of defensing Seattle’s interior rush offense. I feel good about Misi setting an edge on one side, not so good feeling about Jenkins/Hewitt. If Seattle’s run game gets any traction, I look to see Reshad Jones lurking near the line of scrimmage.
The success of the defense comes down to how much the defensive line can dominate. If we are able to consistently win in the trenches on defense, it opens up the playbook exponentially.
Keep Lockett and Baldwin in front of you. Bend but don’t break. Stop the run. Don’t let Wilson get outside.
The LA Rams sacked Russell Wilson 6 times in the season opening upset of the Seahawks in 2015 - if we can recreate that kind of chaos, we have a chance.
My background is in psychology, and I always find motivational factors highly salient in a game situation. The “us against the world” mentality can be one of the most powerful of those motivational factors, and it’s hard for me to believe that it isn’t the temporary psychological make-up of this team going in to this game.
Players bouncing back from injuries, Byron Maxwell playing against his former club - if anything this team has, it’s that players should theoretically have a chip on their shoulder. If we have enough players where that comes to fruition, it can catalyze a competitive football game throughout.
According to Vegas, the Dolphins are the biggest underdog in the NFL this week. It’s not like Adam Gase and company don’t have some bulletin board material to work with.
Long story short: the more we control the line of scrimmage, the more we improve our chances at winning. What are the most important winning ingredients for you? Phins up! THE REGULAR SEASON IS BACK...