‘Bandit’ package helps bolster Seahawks defense

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.