'Bandit' package helps bolster Seahawks defense
RENTON, Wash. (AP)
Seven defensive backs on the field at the same time isn't considered conventional in the NFL.
But Pete Carroll has never been considered a conventional coach.
After the Denver Broncos managed to go 14 of 20 on third down in Week 2 and Philip Rivers passed for 455 yards against the Seahawks in Week 3, Carroll knew they needed to add a different element to their defense.
The team's bye week in Week 5 allowed Carroll to get rookie safety Kam Chancellor more reps in practice. The extra work helped him earn the confidence of the coaching staff and the coaching staff developed a scheme to get the 6-foot-3, 232-pound safety on the field.
The wrinkle Carroll and defensive coordinator Gus Bradley rolled out was the ''bandit package,'' an alignment with three defensive linemen, one linebacker and seven defensive backs.
The Seahawks have been able to get more speed and versatility on the field while still being able to pressure the quarterback. Safety Lawyer Milloy frequently becomes an extra pass rusher while Roy Lewis, Jordan Babineaux and Lofa Tatupu all become possible threats to blitz.
''(The offensive linemen) don't know where to go. They point out the protection and once you get that little small mix-up, then someone is coming scott free,'' Lewis said. ''It's giving the offense a lot of problems and we look forward to having those packages on the field because we've got guys that can cover, pass rush and make tackles.''
The need for a change was obvious to Milloy.
''When we didn't do well on third down, we lost,'' Milloy said.
''When you have six, seven guys out there as (defensive backs) that are pretty interchangeable, it makes it really tough for a team to know where you're coming from.''
Seattle has the confidence in its secondary to bring as many as seven men on blitzes or rush just four and utilize the extra defenders to cover opposing receivers.
''If you feel OK about your guys (defensive backs) rushing, which some teams don't, then they can rush, they can drop, they can cover backs. A guy who's on the line of scrimmage can end up being a deep defender and so you just give yourself a variety of things that you can do and interchange some parts and stuff and try to make it difficult,'' Carroll said.
With only three defensive linemen and one linebacker on the field, the package is susceptible to being gashed by the run, which is why the Seahawks have predominantly used the package on third down and predictable passing situations.
Last week against Arizona, they ran it only six times through the first three quarters and only on third down. When the Cardinals were trying to mount a comeback in the fourth quarter, they went with the bandit package on 11 of 13 defensive snaps. Arizona gained just 29 yards and the Cardinals' only first down came via penalty.
''We're just trying to utilize our guys' strengths,'' Bradley said. ''Lawyer Milloy's a good rusher, a good blitzer and can cover and do some things with him. We said 'All right, let's start by doing some things with him. Now how do we cover it up and how do we do some things there?' and it just kind of evolved.''
In the two games Seattle has utilized the bandit package, the Seahawks have forced opposing quarterbacks into completing just 40 percent of their passes and offenses to convert just 7 of 33 third downs.
Notes: G Chester Pitts will dress on Sunday for the first time this season after offseason microfracture knee surgery. Carroll said he would like to get Pitts on the field at either left tackle or left guard. ... CB Walter Thurmond (head) and CB Kelly Jennings (hamstring) did not practice Friday. If they can't play, CB Roy Lewis and CB Nate Ness will fill in at the right cornerback position. ... Thurmond, Jennings, DT Brandon Mebane (calf), T Russell Okung (ankle) and RB Michael Robinson (hamstring) did not practice Friday.