Kam Chancellor vs. Panthers

Kam Chancellor got a lot of press this week for a play he didn’t make, but what about all of the plays that he did make? Chancellor left his finger prints all over the game this past Saturday in the passing game, whether it was covering Greg Olsen or coming up and making bone crushing hits on receivers; as well as the run game. Chancellor finished the game with 10 total tackles as well as the game clinching interception which he promptly returned 90 yards for a TD. Let’s take a look at the film to see what Chancellor did to help the Seahawks win the game.

To start off, let’s talk about the Seahawks overall defense, so the responsibilities and alignments make a little more sense. The Seahawks base defense is a 4-3 Under, with Bruce Irvin (the Sam LB) basically playing the position of rush LB. Chancellor is in a unique situation with being secondary mates with Richard Sherman and Earl Thomas, being in this secondary allows Kam to spend most of his time playing down in the box, almost as a fourth LB (as seen in the diagram below) giving the appearance of a 5-3 defense. The size and athleticism of Chancellor allows him to match TE’s stride for stride in coverage as well as to fill the hole and stuff the run.


 Play 1: 1st & 10. -11. 4:20 1st.

Defensive Formation: 4-3 Under

Offensive Personnel: 22 Personnel


The Panthers are running a classic Power play, where the LG pulls to lead the RB while the rest of the offensive lineman “down block”. The Seahawks are running a stunt with the DE and the Will LB (closest to sideline). The DE crashes down while the WLB wraps around and takes on the kick out block from the FB. The crashing DE makes a fantastic play by recognizing where the pressure from the lineman is coming from and spinning right into the RB’s path. Where Chancellor comes into this play is filling in the hole where the LB was supposed to be until he took on the FB. Chancellor does a nice job of keeping himself in a good football position and squeezing the hole down. Although the RB breaks through from the initial contact, Chancellor is there to clean it up for only a 2 yard gain.

Play 2: 3rd & 4. -17. 3:12 1st.

Defensive Formation: Nickel

Coverage: Cover 1 Robber

Offensive Personnel: 11 Personnel


It’s 3rd down and the Panthers are backed up in their own territory. The Panthers try to run a “Go-Wheel” combo route to the field side along with a backside “Dig” with the TE split out to the trips side running a “Comeback” route and the FB leaking out of the backfield after blocking. On the defensive side of the ball, the Seahawks bring the heat, bringing a WLB blitz. In the secondary, Seattle runs a “Cover 1 Robber” concept, where the Corners and LB’s are in man-to-man with the FS in the middle of the field and the SS (Chancellor) sitting at around 10 yards taking any crossing routes away. As you see in the diagram, no one is assigned to the FB out of the backfield so once he releases, he is Chancellor’s responsibility. Kam has a chance to make the tackle right at the first down marker but he comes in for the tackle falling down and out of control. On the previous play he did a nice job of squeezing down and keeping himself under control, on this play he is running at the ball carrier full speed and is unable to gather himself in time to settle his hips and tackle the ball carrier. The play results in a gain of 14 yards and a first down.

Play 3: 2nd & 2. 15. 10:44 2nd.

Defensive Formation: 4-3 Under

Offensive Personnel: 12 Personnel


The Panthers have driven into Seahawks territory on a fairly lengthy drive. On this play, the Panthers are “Trap” blocking the NT (double teaming), while the RT gets on the second level and takes care of the WLB. On the Seahawks side of the ball, the left DE runs an outside movement where he is met by the TE (point man in the bunch). The MLB does a nice job of squeezing the hole down before he is picked up by the other TE. Chancellor is the last unblocked man left in the run stopping game and must make a play here. He once again (similar to play 1) does a great job of closing down the space of the hole quickly. The reason it is so important to close the space of the hole quickly is to give the RB less options to work with, giving him only one direction to go and being able to make an easy tackle. Luckily for Chancellor, the left DE makes a nice play by defeating the block and catching the RB from behind while Chancellor finishes him off.

Play 4: 1st & 10. -21. 4:47 2nd.

Defensive Formation: 4-3 Under

Coverage: Cover 3

Offensive Personnel: 21 Personnel


1st and 10 here for the Panthers as they begin another drive. On this play the Panthers look to catch the Seahawks off-guard by running a slip screen to the RB, but with only two lead blockers. Seattle is in a Cover 3, which means that Chancellor has the “curl to flat” zones. The two WR’s to Chancellor’s side both run “Vertical” routes. As you see the FS is working his way towards Chancellor’s side, the reason this is important is because now Chancellor does not have to carry the TE up the seam as he would if the FS was going to the opposite side. Chancellor then has only one route come into his zone, the screen. You really see his speed on this play as he plants and drives once he recognizes the play. He is so quick that the first blocker by-passes him while the second blocker isn’t fast enough to get a body on the blazing Chancellor. Kam blows up the play before it even gets started for a gain of 0.

Play 5: 2nd & 9. 35. 2:00 2nd.

Defensive Formation: 4-3 Under

Coverage: Cover 3 (w/ man-to-man responsibilities)

Offensive Personnel: 12 Personnel


On this play you must ignore what is going on throughout the play, this breakdown is centered around Kam Chancellor and although the ball is not thrown towards him, he shows very nice coverage skills on this particular play. Notice Chancellor on this play, aligned in his same position as he usually is. On this play he takes his coverage drop but opens his hips to the field in order to carry the TE if he runs a route across the middle. Chancellor also appears to have responsibility for anything out-breaking on that side. Notice how as the TE breaks on his “Out”, Chancellor does a great job turning over his upfield shoulder and staying right in the TE’s hip pocket. A great display of hip movement to flip with the route and reaction time as well as coverage ability. The play ultimately results in an incomplete pass.

Derek Willems

Derek was born, bred and fed in the Dawg Pound as a Cleveland Browns fan. Currently he is a student assistant with the Kent State Football program, his primary focus being Defensive Backs. He eventually hopes to coach high level football but for now in his spare time he enjoys breaking down film and writing to inform the readers of things he is seeing. For all of Derek's articles: <strong><a href="http://nflbreakdowns.com/author/DerekWillems/">Click Here</a>.</strong>