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Secret To Seahawks’ Cornerbacks Success? They Don’T Dance


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PHOENIX — Solomon Wilcots, the NFL Network analyst and former defensive back, floats a theory.

Offenses don’t innovate, he says, because offenses benefit from rule changes designed to help them. But defenses? Defenses innovate. They must.

And when Wilcots looks at what the Seahawks’ secondary does, how they play old-school bump-and-run coverage with a technique called the “step-kick”, he sees something unique.

“I will say this: That stuff is innovative,” Wilcots says before rattling off tough bump-and-run corners: Lester Hayes, Albert Lewis, Mark Haynes, Kevin Ross. “They were phenomenal. They were press bump-and-run corners, but they were all trail technique. It’s still what people run today.

“Pete was like, ‘When you get into that, all they’re going to do is throw deep.’ Sooner or later, all they need to do is hit two or three of those in a game. But Pete said, ‘We’re going to keep the receivers in front of us. We’re going to play with vision back to the quarterback.’

“If you took 10 cornerbacks and asked them what technique they would prefer to play, unanimously everyone one of them would raise their hand quick to play the way Pete Carroll teaches it."

The step-kick technique is pretty much as it sounds. At the line of scrimmage, Seattle’s corners get in front of their receiver to press. Receivers usually shimmy and shake to create separation at the line — think of Doug Baldwin — but the Seahawks teach their corners to take one step sideways when the ball is snapped. That way, the corner is less tempted to react wrongly to the receiver’s dancing. That’s the “step.”

The “kick” in the equation comes when the dancing is over. At some point the receiver has to get going, and when he does, the Seahawks kick their foot backward to run with the receiver and keep him in front of them.

Kris Richard, the Seahawks’ defensive-backs coach, first learned the step-kick technique when he was a player under Carroll at USC in 2001. He said the technique hasn’t always been around the NFL or college.

“I wouldn’t necessarily say so,” he said, “but … as simple as it is, you absolutely have to practice it and master it. You can take it back to this: It’s like playing basketball and staying in front of a guy in basketball. But now you get to use your hands.”

Seattle’s cornerbacks say in the last couple years other corners in the league have started emulating the technique.

“They’re trying,” said defensive assistant Marquand Manuel. “You can just watch it on tape. Kris has perfected that; I’ve just been along with it. He took it to a whole other level. That’s what he did. That’s living through it, walking through it these last three years with these guys. It’s a life, and until you understand the life, you can try to emulate it. You watch Patrick Peterson, and you watch guys who try to emulate it. I watch tape enough on the good guys, but without the proper teaching you don’t understand the effectiveness of it. And that’s sort of awesome.”

Perhaps the biggest requirement for the step-kick technique is patience. It can be a scary, lonely feeling standing idly while a receiver dances at the line. But instead of reacting to those moves, Seattle’s corners are taught to wait, hold the line and pounce when he makes a move.

Once he does, they then make sure to never get beat deep. Think about it: How many times in the last two or three years can you recall a Seattle corner truly getting beat deep? A handful?

And as for Wilcots’ theory that the step-kick technique is “innovative”, Manuel agreed.

“Is it new? Is bump-and-run coverage new?” Manuel said. “No, it’s not new. But the way you teach the technique, Kris does a great job of doing that. All we do is reiterate it. It’s all about consistency. Can you be consistent and be consistent with your technique? A lot of guys talk about it. They want to emulate it. But can you be consistent?”

http://www.seattletimes.com/sports/seahawks/secret-to-seahawks-cornerbacks-success-they-dont-dance/

I figured I'd post this article since it's very insightful and explains what they are working on with Jalen Collins and the rest of the CBs. Our coaches are teaching a proven technique to our corners that takes time to learn.

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Collins was taken in the second round as a high upside developmental prospect. He only started 11 games in college, so he was never going to be Tru Jr. from the outset. If things work the way they can, we'll have two #1 CBs next season and one heck of a good secondary. If King sticks around, he might also develop into a better-than-serviceable DB.

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I've pointed this out in other threads, but this is what is intriguing to me so far this preseason: we aren't actually running any press-zone or utilizing this step-kick technique in games. So far we are running pretty much straight bail technique and not even pressing in obvious Cover-1 situations.

I'm really wondering if we are just keeping the step-kick and press-zone under bubble wrap until the real games start, or are we abandoning these concepts in Quinn's defense. You would think we'd be practicing them in the games so the players would have more chances to work out the kinks before the real games start. But who knows at this point. I'm definitely concerned.

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I've pointed this out in other threads, but this is what is intriguing to me so far this preseason: we aren't actually running any press-zone or utilizing this step-kick technique in games. So far we are running pretty much straight bail technique and not even pressing in obvious Cover-1 situations.

I'm really wondering if we are just keeping the step-kick and press-zone under bubble wrap until the real games start, or are we abandoning these concepts in Quinn's defense. You would think we'd be practicing them in the games so the players would have more chances to work out the kinks before the real games start. But who knows at this point. I'm definitely concerned.

Yea I've noticed that as well and I'm not sure why they aren't using it. None of us really know what's going on. This is Quinn's first PS. He may be having them practice things in game and try and get comfortable with it before building on it. He may be holding stuff close to the vest.

But reading about their handling of teaching the technique was a great read

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But reading about their handling of teaching the technique was a great read

That's why it cracks me up to see people harping about Collins already. They don't realize that teaching a CB to play the Seattle way can be a very, very long process. And not only that, but anything they have learned about what would normally be good CB technique has to be unlearned in order to install the level of patience it takes to execute the step-kick properly. It goes against every natural instinct a CB has, especially the ones that are supposed to already be good. Having a CB that feels confident in his techniques just means it's going to take him even longer to adjust to the Seahawks way of doing things.

So people need to give Collins a break. He was always a long-term project player, whether you like it or not. And don't hand me any of that 2nd rounder b.s. If he turns into an All-Pro then it will have easily been worth it.

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Our defense is not the Legion of Boom and it's not going to be. I think Quinn is smart enough to let the identity of his defense grow organically instead of trying to copy another unit. If the D-line gets better - as it surely should - then it's going to create tons of opportunities for the secondary when quarterbacks are moved off their blocks and have to get rid of the ball before making their reads.

BTW, here's an interesting analysis of cornerbacks that I found. Tru ranks really high on this guy's analytical breakdown.

http://draftcentric.weebly.com/2014-coverage-productivity-charts.html

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Our defense is not the Legion of Boom and it's not going to be. I think Quinn is smart enough to let the identity of his defense grow organically instead of trying to copy another unit. If the D-line gets better - as it surely should - then it's going to create tons of opportunities for the secondary when quarterbacks are moved off their blocks and have to get rid of the ball before making their reads.

BTW, here's an interesting analysis of cornerbacks that I found. Tru ranks really high on this guy's analytical breakdown.

http://draftcentric.weebly.com/2014-coverage-productivity-charts.html

Completely agree with this they will find there own identity.

Also what alot of fans don't realise is that all peoples learning rates aren't the same.I mean a classic example of this i Trufant V Alford you can see regardless of coverage or scheme Trufant has picked it up alot quicker than Alford.The latter has to be put in a certain position to be effective.Trufant not as much to me that goes back to being able to understand and learn at a quicker rate.

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That's why it cracks me up to see people harping about Collins already. They don't realize that teaching a CB to play the Seattle way can be a very, very long process. And not only that, but anything they have learned about what would normally be good CB technique has to be unlearned in order to install the level of patience it takes to execute the step-kick properly. It goes against every natural instinct a CB has, especially the ones that are supposed to already be good. Having a CB that feels confident in his techniques just means it's going to take him even longer to adjust to the Seahawks way of doing things.

So people need to give Collins a break. He was always a long-term project player, whether you like it or not. And don't hand me any of that 2nd rounder b.s. If he turns into an All-Pro then it will have easily been worth it.

He's played just fine the last two games to me. The first game we played a lot of cover 1 and he was beat a few times. But when he was on cover 3 bail he caused an int. since the first game we've mostly run cover 3 bail and you haven't heard his name. He's been playing well the last couple of games. As a guy that knows what the h3ll is going on in the secondary I know you've noticed he's done well too.
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Our defense is not the Legion of Boom and it's not going to be. I think Quinn is smart enough to let the identity of his defense grow organically instead of trying to copy another unit. If the D-line gets better - as it surely should - then it's going to create tons of opportunities for the secondary when quarterbacks are moved off their blocks and have to get rid of the ball before making their reads.

BTW, here's an interesting analysis of cornerbacks that I found. Tru ranks really high on this guy's analytical breakdown.

http://draftcentric.weebly.com/2014-coverage-productivity-charts.html

Yeah they won't be the L.O.B. but why find the same type of corners if he's not trying to emulate Seattle's secondary

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Our defense is not the Legion of Boom and it's not going to be. I think Quinn is smart enough to let the identity of his defense grow organically instead of trying to copy another unit.

Truth Be Told covered this by pointing out we wouldn't be drafting the same type of CB's if we weren't trying to emulate the same style of CB play.

Plus Schofield already said we are running pretty much the exact same scheme Seattle runs. That is why it's so perplexing to me that we haven't been running ANY Cover-3 press-zone. As I said earlier, we are running either Cover-1 without press, or Cover-3 bail with no press either. We aren't pressing any that I see - and as noted in this article, the step-kick technique is what the press-then-bail is all about when playing this type of scheme with the CB's. I mean, we've got to just be sandbagging and holding off showing our cards before the real games start. It's the only thing that makes partial sense.

This kind of goes back to something I heard one of the offensive lineman say before that horrible 3rd preseason game. Something along the lines of "we have only showed a fraction of our techniques so far." Basically suggesting they still have a whole lot of tricks up their sleeves for when the games start to really count. Now don't take that the wrong way, I'm not suggesting the O Line will be fine or anything like that. I'm only suggesting that since one group is supposedly holding a lot back, then the secondary group might be doing the same thing by keeping the step-kick and press technique off the game film for now.

The only other 2 options I can see are that teaching the step-kick is something that is going to take this whole season plus next offseason to teach before we are ready to use it. Or that our CB's in Trufant and Alford can't execute the step-kick becuase of their size limitations so we are adandoning it either temporarily until Collins and others get trained up in it, or permanently and are just going to roll with Tru and Alford and make do the best we can without the step-kick.

It is going to be interesting to see. But as Truth Be Told pointed out, we wouldn't be drafting those Seattle style CB's if we never had the intention of teaching the same style they use.

Regarding "Quinn being big on d line development and Caroll very hands on with the DBs."

Yep, Carroll is the DB guru for them. But most people don't realize how many DB's the Seahawks have drafted since Carroll took that team over. They don't talk about the plethora of failed draft picks, only the one they hit on such as Thomas, Chancellor, and Sherman. But they've drafted about 2 DB's per year since Carroll has been there.

[Collins] played just fine the last two games to me. The first game we played a lot of cover 1 and he was beat a few times. But when he was on cover 3 bail he caused an int. since the first game we've mostly run cover 3 bail and you haven't heard his name. He's been playing well the last couple of games. As a guy that knows what the h3ll is going on in the secondary I know you've noticed he's done well too.

Yeah, he's definitely playing better and coming along. But again, I keep coming back to the fact that we aren't yet playing the step-kick zone-press technique for some reason or another. Collins is definitely a guy that needs all the work he can get using the techniques we are going to use in the real games. I'm dumbfounded why they wouldn't be running step-kick in the games knowing how much work all of our CB's need to practice it - if in fact we intend to use it.

Hard as **** cause like it said you have to have patience. Wait too long and you will get roasted on a fly route or a post.

Yep. And I know it's already been said before, but being able to get your hands on the WR at the line and disrupt their route is another of the big reasons why the long athletes are coveted for CB in this scheme. The shorter and smaller guys like Alford and Trufant can't consistently step and disrupt WR's at the line simply because of a size and reach limitation. Yeah, I know Trufant is 6 feet tall, but he has unusually short arms and small hands for a 6' guy. I'm less worried about Trufant here because of his exceptional lateral quickness though. I'm more worried about Alford in this type of technique.

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