Do Mike & Ikes Like Eminem?: What the Seahawks Need to do to Win the Super Bowl – Part 2
And you’re back! Now that we discussed Russell Wilson and what he needs to do, as well as a little bit about Six Flags Amusement Parks and Eminem, let’s turn to the other big factor for Seattle, Richard Sherman.
Is Richard Sherman the One Armed Man from “The Fugitive”?
As I mentioned in the Injuries & Oddities article, after spraining his left elbow in the fourth quarter against the Packers, there’s been much speculation regarding whether Mr. Chunky Soup would be at full strength for the Super Bowl. It appeared that since Sherman had practiced in full each day that he was on track to terrorizing Mr. Brady by shutting down the right side of the field in the Super Bowl. But late on Tuesday, ESPN’s Ed Werder reported that Sherman has torn ligaments in his elbow, but that he was “improving daily,” and “finished with treatment.” Who knows where Sherman really is with this injury, and, clearly, having a fully healthy Sherman will be important to Seattle’s chances at repeating as Super Bowl Champs.
The Packers sacrificed Jarrett Boykin in the first game of the season by lining him up against Sherman and then thoroughly ignoring him the entire game. Of course, this led to one of the worst performances of Aaron Rodgers’ career and a convincing loss to begin the season. In the NFC Championship game, the Packers started off a little more creative lining up Jordy Nelson opposite Sherman, and successfully throwing at him.
Unfortunately, Rodgers picked the wrong time to really test Sherman, throwing to Davante Adams in the endzone leading to, you guessed it, an interception. Remember that Sherman was once a wide receiver prior to coming into the NFL, which means he knows how to adjust and position himself when battling for the ball. Plus he has great hands.
The Packers went on to completely ignore the right side of the field, EVEN AFTER Sherman injured his elbow. Now THAT’S intimidation. And, of course, the Packers proceeded to lose the game in spectacular fashion. So what does this mean to the Seahawks in the Super Bowl?
Brady is no dummy. And, honestly, Belichick is one of the best game planners in the NFL. He doesn’t play a particular offensive scheme, he plays his opponent. And you can bet that Brady will be tasked at testing Sherman early to get a feel for his range of motion. Sherman relies heavily on his hands to “feel” out the receiver he covers so he knows where best to position himself and where to position the receiver. It’s truly uncanny. But if he doesn’t have full range of motion for his left arm, you can bet he’ll have trouble of keeping track of his receiver.
Since the Seahawks allowed a league leading low of 185.6 passing yards per game and third best low of 81.5 rushing yards per game, the Patriots really don’t have great options on offense. Interestingly, though, the Seahawks caused problems for opposing offenses by forcing rushed decisions, not by actually sacking the QB or taking the ball away. The Seahawks only had 13 interceptions and 37 total sacks during the regular season, good for only 18th and 20th among defenses in the NFL. That means getting rid of the ball quickly will be Brady’s friend. Assuming Sherman tests out 90% (as that’s all it’ll take for him to shut down just about anyone), I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Patriots pseudo-“sacrifice” Brandon LaFell, lining him up solely opposite Sherman, and utilizing Edelman, Amendola and Gronk over the middle and down the seam. They’ll still have Thomas to deal with, but only 8-15 yards down field, which is plenty of room for any of those three to make a play. I also wouldn’t be surprised to see some Shane Vareen mixed in on the outside to take some pressure off Brady, giving him a quick escape hatch and keeping the defensive ends honest.
Perhaps more importantly, the Patriots also have a revived ground game after reacquiring LeGarrette Blount midseason. The threat of a run up the gut can sometimes be better than actually handing the ball off. Just ask Marshawn Lynch and how he feels about zone read (which I discussed in my previous article). And although Blount knows the Seahawks allowed a league-low average of 15.9 points per game during the regular season, he expressed his confidence in the Patriots’ offense during Media Day:
“I don’t care about them being the top defense, that doesn’t bother me. They were good enough to get here, just like we were good enough to get here. They’re not immortal. They can be beaten.”
Well, we’ll see, Mr. Blount, we’ll see. A lot of that will hinge on Sherman’s health. As Gronk said during Media Day, the only guarantee we can make is that “the game will be played on Sunday.” Truer words have never been said.
And now, let’s all hum along with a little classic Eminem.