Week off gives Seahawks big edge- matchup
Pete Carroll & Co. have two weeks to study Bears' tendencies
Matt Bowen Scouting the Bears 9:51 p.m. CDT, October 14, 2010
The Bears' game preparation didn't change this week. Coming off the win Sunday in Carolina, they went through their same routine — or script — that is followed by the entire league. Watch the game tape Monday, rest Tuesday and start their installation for the Seahawks on Wednesday. A normal week in the NFL.
Not so for the Seahawks. Pete Carroll's team is coming off an open date. Two weeks to craft a game plan. Time to self-scout personnel in the film room. An extra week to evaluate their own roster. A new locker for running back Marshawn Lynch.
Not a complete overall, but the week off in the NFL is the ideal time for the front office and the coaching staff to make changes. And we can include the players as well. In my career, the open date afforded time to get in the film room and evaluate my own play. What I am doing right? How is my technique? What are opposing offensive coordinators seeing in my game? A situation, a route that targets my weaknesses?
Carroll and his staff have had two weeks to study Mike Martz's offense and Lovie Smith's defense. They will go back to the preseason tape and start from the beginning. The Cover-2 defense will be broken down to a point where the Seahawks know the exact routes they want to run. Tips, presnap keys, tendencies. And personnel. Quarterback Matt Hasselbeck will know what Charles Tillman's alignment means and what coverage to expect. The blitz looks. Brian Urlacher's zone drops. In the NFL, the film tells a very detailed story — and every player becomes a target.
Defensively, the Seahawks will break down every pass protection — and seven-step drop — in Martz's playbook. They will throw in film from his time in San Francisco, Detroit and even back to his days as the head coach in St. Louis. Find an advantage. Even something as small as two key tips can win a game in this league. Maybe it's an alignment, a formation or an audible that is caught on tape. A hand signal given to a wide receiver vs. press coverage. That extra week gives you time as a player, and a coach, to completely break down an opponent.
In reality, the standard NFL game prep is limited. Wednesday to Saturday. That's it. The game plan is installed on Wednesday morning, shaped throughout the week and finalized in that Saturday night meeting in the hotel. Put together based on the opponent's four previous games. Not enough time to go back into the preseason. Maybe a gadget play such as a reverse or a halfback pass from August is thrown on the film cut-ups, but that is about all you can expect.
Does that give the Seahawks an added advantage? It should. If there is a certain route that gave the Bears issues — even going back to the 2009 season — expect to see it this Sunday. The same can be said for Martz. That staff in Seattle will find a way to install a certain personnel package specifically designed to beat his offense.
The Bears know it. Urlacher, Lance Briggs, Jay Cutler, etc. Martz and Smith. Even general manager Jerry Angelo. Playing a team coming off of that "free week" is tough from a preparation standpoint. The Seahawks will come into Soldier Field with their most complete and detailed game plan of the season. And the Bears should be on full alert.
After playing at Glenbard West and Iowa, Matt Bowen spent seven seasons in the NFL as a strong safety with the Rams, Packers, Redskins and Bills, including playing for Lovie Smith and Mike Martz in St. Louis. When he's not writing for the Tribune, you can find his work at nationalfootballpost.com