How Seattle Seahawks’ defense adjusted for Saints RB Alvin Kamara
The Seahawks’ quick defense managed to hold back running back Alvin Kamara 51 yards down. Kamara could only manage an average of 2.55 yards per carry over his 20 attempts. And yet, the 26-year-old star was still named NFC Offensive Player of the Week.
This is because Kamara is, of course, a multipurpose weapon. He was responsible for 59% of the Saints’ yards in the scrum in the Monday Night Football game. According to @Crimealytics, the last New Orleans player to represent at least that much of the team’s offense was Kamara himself, again against Seattle, in 2019.
So why haven’t the Seahawks’ defense learned for 2021? Well, they kind of did. While Kamara’s eight catches for 109 yards and one halftime touchdown was a very disappointing stat line from a Seattle game plan perspective, the Seahawks adapted to the execution errors to get Kamara out of the game. aerial game as well. Indeed, Kamara captured only two passes in the second period for 15 yards. They effectively took out Jameis Winston’s favorite target overnight.
Kamara largely caught the soccer balls in the weak spot in Seattle area coverage. They weren’t explosive passes and the Seahawks were happy to go along with them. Meanwhile, Kamara’s 23-yard capture on a screen pass early in the second quarter was just a case of a football chess match. It was a smart design to beat Seattle’s men’s cover, the kind of deal that works once in a game.
The real problems came at the end of the half. The result was two catches for 44 yards and a touchdown that contradicted the supposed play of the game so far.
First, ten-under goalie Ryan Neal got hijacked by Kamara in aggressive zonal match coverage. The concept is new to the Seattle defense in 2021, appearing to play Area 2 defense from the three receivers side and cover from the weak side from Thief 4.
Neal, at the back with Kamara, pushed outside with the release of Kamara. Kamara had the option on his route to break through on the outside or inside depending on the leverage and technique of the defender. It can also nest below relative to the out-of-zone area. On this play, it’s likely Kamara read the defender’s leverage as a man-to-man and didn’t see any player in the midfield.
Neal should have kept firm internal pressure on Kamara. However, Kamara’s rod was deceptive and her cut nimble. This led to Neal overtaking on the outside. With Bobby Wagner’s technique seeing him run to the highest hole with his back turned to the play, Kamara had so much room to catch and run, finishing with 31 yards.
The touchdown grip showed Kamara’s “tucked away” choice in his optional route. The Seahawks immediately broke their cover in the red zone. You can see in the footage that Jamal Adams and Neal both watched the No.3 receiver on the strong side of the roster. Neither of them paid attention to Kamara on the weak side until it was too late.
There are a lot of potential explanations for this, but the most likely theory is that Neal got confused with his history as a solid security and chose that role by default after hearing the call.
Kamara was left all alone, so he nestled in space. Winston’s fumble was of no consequence and with Adams and Neal viewing Receiver # 3 neither saw it happen. Neal was passed around the corner and his desperate tackle attempt slipped through Kamara.
The Seahawks defense and Ken Norton Jr. learned from those moments.
“We shuffled our blankets well last week, made a good fit at halftime to make sure Kamara doesn’t catch too many balls in this game,” head coach Pete Carroll told reporters on Wednesday. .
The adjustment saw Seattle play cover 1 man-to-man defense where, rather than one of the linebackers either rat or playing the hole low, both linebackers looked to pass Kamara. Along with the Saints’ spamming on the optional Kamara route, where he could break through inside or out, this placed a tight defender and on the outside of Kamara, and a tight defender and inside the back. It worked.
When New Orleans decided to reintroduce Kamara in passing, the Seahawks defensemen performed better. The Saints moved to split Kamara wide, removing the double linebacker support Seattle had placed on him. This isolated Jordyn Brooks in the perimeter with Kamara, further giving Winston the pre-instant information that he was facing human cover.
Quandre Diggs cheated his midfielder 1/3 on Kamara’s side to pass him. Still, the split meant Diggs, realistically, was still in a tough spot playing on a numbers-driven sideline.
However, Brooks was fantastic in his 3rd and 5th man-to-man missions. He remained patient with Kamara’s release, honoring – but not biting – the stuttering within. The linebacker had the speed to get back in line with Kamara, whose wide clearance had reduced the space available for a touchdown.
Winston took a look at Brooks’ transition before quickly deciding he didn’t want to participate in the pitch. By this point, Seattle’s peak games up front had started to hamper the quarterback and he was forced to make a hopeful pass the other way. The ball landed incomplete and the Seahawks limited the Saints to three points.
So the endgame numbers look worse thanks to two terrible run times on the same disc. With Kamara, a running back, being such a versatile player when it comes to rostering and affectation, it’s also hard to keep him from getting his yards.
The way the Seahawks have adapted to Kamara is not a sustainable strategy for all downs. Instead, it was a quality gesture at the right time and in the right situation. It put the pincers on New Orleans ‘most dangerous threat when it really mattered, stifling the Saints’ offense down the stretch. A successful move for Norton.