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Mike Haynes outlines Seattle Seahawks' dominance

After the Legion of Boom defense turned in one of the most dominant Super Bowl performances of all time, the Seattle Seahawks viewed themselves in the same light as the historically great 1985 Chicago Bears and the 2000 Baltimore Ravens.

Perhaps a better comparison would be the 1983 to 1984 Los Angeles Raiders outfit that jumped out to a 21-3 halftime lead en route to a 38-9 blowout victory over the Washington Redskins.

That Raiders squad featured not only history's greatest cornerback tandem in Mike Haynes and Lester Hayes, but also Hall of Famers in Howie Long and Ted Hendricks -- along with Pro Bowl players such as Greg Townsend, Lyle Alzado, Rod Martin and Vann McElroy.

It's no coincidence that coach Pete Carroll shows clips of Haynes and Hayes to teach his cornerbacks how to play press-man coverage.

In an email exchange with Around The League, Hall of Famer Haynes explained how the Seahawks' secondary bullied the Denver Broncos' receivers at the line of scrimmage, lowered the boom across the middle and shut down the league's best screen-pass game.

"Seattle's secondary played very much like the Raiders secondary in Super Bowl XVIII," Haynes said. " ... Seattle's press coverage is getting a lot of attention now and it should. They can really play. Their safeties have great range and a reputation for hitting hard (but clean) and their corners have great technique and welcome all challengers."

Haynes expects to see a carry-over effect from the Seahawks' thundering -- but still legal -- blows, such as the one from Kam Chancellor that knocked Demaryius Thomas backward and might have separated his shoulder.

"Seattle's secondary sent a clear message to Denver and all other NFL teams that feature underneath crossing routes: 'Get ready to see some spittle in the air,'" Haynes explained. "I really liked that they are able to do it without hitting receivers above their shoulder pads, demonstrating that it is doable!!! That's their preferred style of play and it's still very intimidating."

If the Seahawks' trademark is leaving opponents with a physical hangover, it's their film study, knowledge of route concepts and situational football that allows them to play at a faster speed.

Richard Sherman recently emphasized that he, Chancellor and Earl Thomas are not just All-Pro players, but also "three All-Pro minds."


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Haynes elaborated on that importance of "hours of intense studying and constant communication" with talented pass rushers and rangy linebackers. Understanding his own defense and the likelihood of the opponent's intentions allowed him to play with confidence and dictated his technique choice.

"Using a myriad of different pre- and post-snap techniques," Haynes continued, "a DB can lessen a receiver's confidence, cause confusion and challenge his decision-making ability."

Executing those techniques to precision was integral to holding Peyton Manning to the third-fewest yards per completion (8.2) of any quarterback in Super Bowl history.

We will spend the offseason reading about the NFL's copycat nature as other teams emulate Carroll's formula of shutting down aerial attacks with physical press-man corners.

Those defensive backs have been the prototype for years, but, as Haynes points out, "they've just been hard to find."

When your team unearths one or two of those physical specimens in the 2014 NFL Draft, don't expect a string of Lombardi Trophies to follow. Even if those prospects possess the rare combination of size, diligence and football IQ, they won't have the benefit of Seattle's developmental program and surrounding talent.

Stifling Super Bowl defenses like Haynes' Raiders and Sherman's Seahawks come along only once or twice in a generation.

In the latest "Around The League Podcast," the guys ponder the future in both Seattle and Denver and break down the teams who intrigue them most this offseason.

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