The Luxury of Avril, Bennett and Clemons is the difference
The Denver Broncos run a very high-octane passing attack. They have formidable receivers in Thomas, Decker, and Welker. It’s an offense designed around the greatest skills of one of the greatest quarterbacks to ever play the game.
Simply put, Peyton Manning throws the ball on time and on target better than anyone.
Enter the Seattle Seahawks front 7, or more specifically, the front 4 when defensive coordinator Dan Quinn sends in the NASCAR package.
The NASCAR package is Quinn’s nickname for his passing situation pass-rushing personnel group. It consists of free-agent signees Cliff Avril, Michael Bennett and Chris Clemons along with Clinton McDonald. When Quinn simultaneously decides to send a 5th guy after the QB, count in LB Bruce Irvin too.
The sheer speed of these 5 guys all rushing the passer is just too much for almost any offensive line in the NFL.
The Seahawks’ defense has rolled up 44 sacks in the 2013 regular season and another 7 in the playoffs.
Now, 44 sacks isn’t bad, but isn’t even among the top 10 overall. In fact, 44 sacks in the regular season ranks just 18th in the NFL. Once you factor in how many times the QB was hurried and/or knocked down, however, nobody is better at putting the pressure on opposing quarterbacks than Seattle.
The combination of so many “speed guys” like Avril, Bennett and Clemons is what will ultimately prove fatal to the Denvee offense.
Peyton Manning is great at reading, adjusting and throwing to the hot receiver when defenses blitz him, but the problem he will have with Seattle is that the Hawks just don’t blitz very often because they don’t have to.
Seattle has had plenty of success pressuring the QB with just 4 guys. That’s something Manning has not had to deal with, as he was the least-sacked QB in the NFL this year. Getting to Manning with just 4 is Peyton’s Achilles heel.
Manning may be the best QB ever, but the one thing he’s awful at is running with the ball. He can’t run away from pressure and you’ll rarely see a designed run.
That means when pressured, he’s either going to throw before it’s time or take the sack.
If he throws early, you can bet the Legion of Boom won’t have released their receivers off the line cleanly either.
This will completely discombobulate the timing of the Denver offense. The result will be numerous incompletions, interceptions and sacks for Mr. Manning.
How Seattle was able to sign a guy like Percy Harvin to a $67 million deal and then keep adding guys like Cliff Avril and Michael Bennett is pretty simple really. You don’t have to look further than Russell Wilson.
Russell Wilson will have made about $680,000 this season, the 2nd year of his 3-year rookie deal.
By comparison, Peyton Manning will make close to $18 million this year. Seattle uses less than 1 percent of their cap space on its starting QB. The Broncos use more than 14 percent on theirs.
Manning’s salary ranks him as the 5th-highest paid QB in the NFL this year.
Wilson? Well, he’s the 60th-highest paid QB in the NFL.
Think about that for a second. That means there are more than 10 BACKUP quarterbacks in the NFL that make more money than Russell Wilson.
Want to see another place Seattle is saving money? Manning this year will make $9 million more than all 4 members of the Legion of Boom COMBINED! That’s what being good in the draft can do for you. John Schneider and Pete Carroll have done a brilliant job finding young guys in the draft and then filling in the few holes with star free agents.
Without those two guys drafting so well, you’d never be able to afford the likes of Avril, Bennett and Clemons. The luxury of having those guys is the X-factor in this game on Sunday and the reason why Seattle will have its first national sports championship since the Supersonics in 1979.