What To Take From Seattle's Win

Demaryius Thomas buried (Mullholland/USA TODAY)

It's a copy-cat league. Teams will want to keep up with the Joneses. The champions often set the trends. If I run the Steelers ...

... there are a six things I take from the Seahawks that I can use to make a return to hoisting Lombardi's:

1.) Defense still wins championships -- You don't have to be Brady, Manning, Rodgers and Brees and putting up incredible fantasy numbers to win championships. The nine highest scoring teams of all time have never won the Super Bowl. Since the new millennium, we have seen several Super Bowls in which a team with a prolific offense went against a team with a dominant defense. In each case, the team with the dominant defense won the Super Bowl. The Giants twice beat the Patriots. The Bucs destroyed the Raiders. And the Seahawks dominated Sunday. Heck, we could probably throw in the Steelers' Super Bowl victories in 2005 and 2008 for good measure. No Steelers Super Bowl victory has ever occurred without a defense that wasn't somewhere from great to dominant.

2.) Find a way to keep LaMarr Woodley -- provided that you can do a couple of things: One, have the cap room next offseason to re-sign Maurkice Pouncey (assuming he stays healthy this season) and Cortez Allen; and, two, Woodley has to be training with Tom Shaw during the offseason (as has already been rumored). If things remain status quo with his offseason regimen, I have to cut him on June 1.

As we saw last night with the Seahawks, part of having a dominant defense is having pass rushers coming in droves. Similar to what the Giants had in Strahan, Tuck, Umenyiora, and eventually Pierre-Paul the Seahawks had last night with Cliff Avril, Michael Bennett, Chris Clemons, and Bruce Irvin.

Wasn't Irvin a former 15th overall pick? I'd like to see Woodley come back for at least one more season to start on the right side, with Jarvis Jones coming in as guy to keep the starters fresh or be used in the middle to either rush or drop in coverage in sub-packages. That might be the scenario that could provide the Steelers with consistently dominant pressure.

3.) Speed and tackling in the secondary -- Much has been made about the size of the Seahawks' secondary (from myself included). While size is important, having a secondary that can fly around and hit and tackle is still the name of the game. In spite of Seattle's size, Peyton Manning was still able to complete a couple back shoulder throws. However, the Seahawks were winning by primarily playing really good zone defense that was closing windows in a hurry. If a receiver did catch the ball, then he was hit and hit hard. Very rarely were the Seahawks making stops solely because of their length (there's more to Richard Sherman's coverage ability than 6-3).

The Steelers can't expect to have a dominant defense with players in their secondary approaching their mid 30's. Those players will need eventual replacements who are talented, fast, tough football players. The Steelers shouldn't be drafting just a corner and a safety, they should be drafting football players at those positions. The Seahawks may be tall and athletic, but most importantly they have football players in that secondary. While size would be nice (like a Stanley Jean-Baptiste), drafting enforcers at corner and safety who are football players should be the priority (but without being undersized like a Lamarcus Joyner).

4.) Make it a priority to strip the football -- We constantly hear or read Steelers say the same thing about their approach to defense, "eliminate the big play and tackle the catch." After the game, I listened to Kam Chancellor talk about not only how they practice the fundamentals of hard, legal hitting on Tuesdays, but also how they practice punching and stripping the ball while tackling. This is something the Steelers' defensive coaching staff needs to consistently teach in order to create more turnovers.

5.) Tip and rally -- I believe the number this season was 18 interceptions the Seahawks had after being tipped by the original defender. It's something they also practice. Much like Mike Tomlin had them practice getting out in front of an interception before Super Bowl XLIII, the Steelers should practice defending passes into play while the defense rallies to that pass to catch it.

6.) Give Vince Williams another year before drafting ILB early -- Before the Super Bowl started, I was thinking about the Seahawks' starting defense to see if I could name all of their starters. I could name everybody on that starting unit except for one player. That player happened to win game MVP. Like Malcolm Smith, Williams was a late-round draft pick (drafted in the 6th round; Smith in the 7th). The Steelers don't need superstars at every position. The Steelers have a star inside like the Seahawks' Bobby Wagner in Lawrence Timmons. I have little doubt if Williams or even Terence Garvin were in the same position as Smith was, after that Manning tipped/tomahawked pass, one of them could've returned that interception for a TD as well. Williams seems like a young leader who's passionate, smart, and can put other defenders in the right position. Give him another year to grow into that role.

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