Offensively, the Seattle Seahawks struggled in a lot of different areas last season . But one thing they consistently failed to do in 2009 was score early in games, putting their defense in bad situations and limiting the types of plays offensive coordinator Greg Knapp could call because of the Seahawks repeatedly falling behind.
Seattle was outscored in the first quarter by a combined total of 100 to 37 in 2009, finishing fifth-worst in the league in this category.
Teams like Philadelphia, Green Bay, San Diego, New England and Dallas finished in the top five in the league in first quarter scoring, and all five were playoff teams.
Scoring early in order to dictate game tempo is one of the main philosophies of the West Coast offense and something former Seahawks head coach Mike Holmgren believed in. During Holmgren’s tenure in Seattle his offenses were efficient at scoring points on opening drives. Holmgren did a nice job of scripting plays for the opening drive, with quarterback Matt Hasselbeck usually leading his team down the field for the score.
A quick glimpse at the stats tells us all we need to know.
According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the Seahawks scored a touchdown on the opening drives of games last season only 6.3 percent of the time, which was tied for 27th in the league.
In 2008, Mike Holmgren’s last year in Seattle, the Seahawks were not much better, scoring a touchdown 12.5 percent of the time on opening drives, tied for 20th overall.
But the three years previous to that Seattle consistently finished in the top 10 in the league, scoring touchdowns 37.5 percent of the time on opening drives during the team’s Super Bowl season in 2005 (tied for second overall), 25 percent of the time in 2006 (tied for seventh) and 31.3 percent of the time in 2007 (tied for sixth).
The top five teams last year for touchdown percentages on opening drives were Indianapolis (43.8 percent), New Orleans (37.5), Philadelphia 37.5), Arizona (31.3), Carolina (31.3) and Minnesota (31.3).
The Seahawks were woefully inadequate on opening drives in 2009, something veteran receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh talked about late in the season.
“It’s like they get a lead, and instead of scoring and kind of just putting a little pressure on them and forcing them to score again, we give it right back,” Houshmandzadeh said after his team’s 48-10 loss at Green Bay late last season.
“And so they’re able to just kind of run their full offense and not worry about, ‘OK, they just scored. If they get another score it’s going to be a tight game.’”
With offensive coordinator Jeremy Bates installing his version of the West Coast offense, hopefully the Seahawks can bet back to operating more efficiently on offense early in games.
By operating with more efficiency early in games, Seattle’s offense can take more pressure off of the defense to keep them in games, opening up the playbook by not consistently falling behind and being forced to throw when opponents know they have to and protecting Hasselbeck from another injury-riddled season.