West Coast defense is all the rage

Your columnist suspects that in this early stage, people know 1 percent of what is possible to know. That may be quite a lot, actually. Cranky eccentrics like Arp are essential to the quest for the other 99 percent of knowledge about the natural world.

Chainsaw Dan, Jay Gruden Made for Each Other: Last week, Tuesday Morning Quarterback reported on an exclusive basis that prospective head coaches of the Potomac Drainage Basin Indigenous Persons were asked to sign a waiver acknowledging that Dan Snyder would ruin their careers. Jay Gruden signed. Some might wonder why Chainsaw Dan was anxious to hire Gruden, the offensive coordinator of the Bengals, just a week after the Bengals offense stunk up the joint in a playoff loss. That's why Snyder wanted Gruden! He's a perfect fit for the R*dsk*ns program.

Fun fact: Gruden is in the Arena League Hall of Fame. In 1996, he threw 70 touchdown passes for the Tampa Bay Storm. The NFL season record, set this year by Peyton Manning, is 55 touchdown passes. The Arena League season record, set in 2012 by Tommy Grady, is 142 touchdown passes.

How Did Seattle Do It? The Saints came into Seattle planning to power rush -- New Orleans and New England, both with pass-wacky DNA, both wanted to run in bad conditions. In the first half, the Saints often showed two tight ends, a fullback or all three together. To deal with the 12th-man din, for most of the game the Saints called plays in the huddle, then reaching the line of scrimmage, snapped without attempting to audible. Late, when the Saints did try to call audibles at the line, things didn't go well: twice Drew Brees had to use timeouts to prevent delay-of-game penalties, one of these coming when the game clock was stopped!

New Orleans dines out on its tailback screen game. The Saints gain so many yards with screens, and slow the pass rush so well with this tactic, it's a wonder why other NFL teams don't do the obvious and screen more. Saturday, the Saints called six tailback screens. Two were broken up by the Seattle defense, two resulted in dropped passes, two gained first downs. Had New Orleans screen plays done better, the game result might have been different.

The West Coast defense of the Seahawks isn't exactly a Tampa 2 but is similar: corners are in the receivers' faces and stick to receivers as if their bodies were coated with flypaper. Do the Seattle corners get away with more pass interference than corners of other teams? Maybe. They sure hand-check more. Seattle corners and nickelbacks almost always have a hand on the receiver, the way a basketball defender would hand-check a point guard. Seattle corners are not pulling the receiver's jersey -- that would draw a flag. But they don't keep their hands to themselves. Maybe the NFL should assign a high school dance chaperone to watch the Seattle secondary.

A cautious offense plus a monster defense may well be the formula that wins this year's cold-weather Super Bowl. Still, Pete Carroll can't be happy that the Saints outgained the Bluish Men Group 409-277 in offensive yards and 25-13 in first downs. The visitors missed two field goals and failed twice on fourth downs in the Maroon Zone. Had even one of those four snaps turned out differently, the game might have too.

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