Seahawks Insider

Grading the Hawks: Glass half empty, or half full?

Post by Eric Williams on Oct. 31, 2012 at 5:36 am with 31 Comments »
October 31, 2012 5:36 am
Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll talks to players in the first half of an NFL football game against the Detroit Lions, Sunday, Oct. 28, 2012. in Detroit. (AP Photo/Duane Burleson)

Just two weeks ago, the Seattle Seahawks were one of the up-and-coming teams this season, and had the look of a serious playoff contender.

But two consecutive losses now have league observers wondering if Year 3 of Pete Carroll’s rebuilding effort in Seattle is more pretender than contender.

The Seahawks sit at 4-4, with surprising wins over Dallas, Green Bay and New England at home, and disappointing losses to Arizona, St. Louis and Detroit on the road.

The defense has, at times, looked dominant, but also has shown its youth and inexperience, with an inability to make plays on critical third-down situations.

Carroll said this week that this team is close to being 8-0, but they could just as easily be 1-7. Seattle’s four losses have been by seven points or fewer, but the Seahawks have won three of their four games by a combined seven points.

Offensively, Russell Wilson has played with great poise in the fourth quarter, but also has shown the rough edges expected from a rookie quarterback.

With relentless runner Marshawn Lynch, the Seahawks continue to effectively run the ball, something they established in the second half of last season.

But Seattle still struggles to gain consistency in the passing game, ranking among the worst in the league in passing yards.

While better than last year’s 2-6 mark at the midpoint of 2011, Carroll understands that his team must take advantage of a second-half schedule that includes five of the last eight games at home, including all three NFC West opponents, if Seattle wants to make the playoffs for the second time in three seasons.

“They know we can play football,” Carroll said. “They need to hang tough, be resilient, come back and get going, and see if we can put together a second half that really makes this season feel like we’re going in the right direction and making progress.

“There’s no doubt in anybody’s mind that we can, we just have to go do it.”

With that, here’s a look at midseason position grades for the Seahawks.

Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson rolls out to look for an open reciever against the Dallas Cowboys in the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 16, 2012, in Seattle. (AP Photo/John Froschauer)

QUARTERBACKS

A surprise winner of a three-way quarterback battle in training camp, Wilson performed about as well as can be expected for a rookie. Here’s the good – he’s led the Seahawks to a pair of fourth-quarter comebacks against two of the best teams in the league in Green Bay and New England, something last year’s starter, Tarvaris Jackson, could not do.

Among the five starting rookie quarterbacks, Wilson is first in touchdown passes (10), tied for first in wins (four) and second in passer rating (82.4). He’s also proved durable; he has not missed a snap due to injury.

However, Wilson also is second-to-last in the NFL in passing yards (171.1) and 26th in the number of passing attempts per game (26). He’s thrown all eight of his interceptions away from home, so it’s no surprise Seattle is 1-4 on the road.

Part of the reason for Wilson’s struggles has been Seattle’s conservative play-calling under the direction of Carroll. But if the Seahawks want to be a legitimate playoff contender, Carroll has to let Wilson air it out like he did against Detroit last week. The Seahawks may have found their franchise quarterback in Wilson, a third-round pick.

Grade: C-plus

RUNNING BACKS

Lynch is on his way to a second consecutive 1,000-yard rushing campaign. He’s second in the league in rushing with 757 yards on 159 carries for a robust 4.8 yard-per-carry average. Lynch has three rushing touchdowns, including a career-long 77-yard rumble for a score Sunday against Detroit. Lynch has rushed for more than 100 yards four times this season.

Fourth-round pick Robert Turbin has been a nice addition as a complementary back to Lynch, rushing for 129 yards on 30 carries. And fullback Michael Robinson continues to block like a Pro Bowl player as a lead blocker for Lynch. Robinson also is among the league leaders in third-and-1 rushes for first downs. He’s 4-for-4 on the year.

Grade: B-plus

Seattle Seahawks' Sidney Rice, right, celebrates his touchdown against the New England Patriots with Seahawks' Golden Tate, in an NFL football game, Sunday, Oct. 14, 2012, in Seattle. The Seahawks beat the Patriots 24-23. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

WIDE RECEIVERS

Sidney Rice leads the Seahawks with 28 receptions for 367 yards and three touchdowns. Golden Tate is second on the team with 20 receptions for 255 yards and three scores.

Doug Baldwin, Seattle’s leading receiver last season, has been slowed by a series of injuries; he has 11 receptions for 149 yards on the year.

Seattle needs to make Rice more of a staple of the offense. However, the Seahawks still lack a true explosive receiver that puts fear into an opponent.

Drops also have been an issue as the Seahawks finished with five drops in a close loss on the road at San Francisco that factored greatly in the outcome. The Seahawks have just 16 passing plays of 20 or more yards – tied for second-worst in the league.

Grade: C-minus

TIGHT ENDS

Zach Miller is not serving as basically a sixth offensive lineman like last season, and he’s more involved in the passing game this season, which has helped open up the middle of the field. The Arizona State product also continues to be a force in the run game.

After teasing us with his impressive play during the exhibition season, Anthony McCoy has had an uneven performance with 10 catches for 97 yards and a touchdown through eight games. Evan Moore has yet to record a catch, making Seattle’s decision to waive Kellen Winslow Jr. during final roster cuts in September look like a mistake.

Grade: C

Seattle Seahawks' Max Unger (60) looks to block against the Carolina Panthers during the first quarter of an NFL football game in Charlotte, N.C., Sunday, Oct. 7, 2012. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)

OFFENSIVE LINE

Offensive line coach Tom Cable finally established some cohesion with this group. The Seahawks have had three starting offensive line combinations this season, but have started the same five the past four games.

And the consistent lineup has paid off. Seattle has given up just 14 sacks, tied for 10th in the league. Last year the Seahawks allowed 50 sacks, fourth-most in the league.

Seattle also continues to get a push up front in the run game, averaging 132 rushing yards a contest, No. 8 in the league. Offensive tackle Russell Okung and center Max Unger are playing at a high level. However, the Seahawks still struggle with penalties. Okung (nine) and Breno Giacomini (seven) are two of the most-penalized players in the league.

Grade: C-plus

DEFENSIVE LINE

The Seahawks have 21 sacks, which is tied for seventh. Seattle is on pace to surpass last year’s total of 33 sacks. Chris Clemons is tied for seventh in the league in sacks with seven, and rookie Bruce Irvin is among the rookie leaders in sacks with 4.5.

Defensive tackle Brandon Mebane is playing at a Pro Bowl level. Mebane has three sacks and is one of the main reasons Seattle holds teams to an average of 85 rushing yards a contest, which is No. 5 in the league.

Still, the Seahawks struggle to get pressure on the quarterback on third down, which is one of the reasons they have one of the worst third-down percentages in the NFL defensively. Twelve of Seattle’s 21 sacks came against Green Bay (eight) and Carolina (four).

Grade: B

St. Louis Rams running back Steven Jackson is tackled by Seattle Seahawks middle linebacker Bobby Wagner during the second half of an NFL football game Sunday, Sept. 30, 2012, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Seth Perlman)

LINEBACKERS

Rookie middle linebacker Bobby Wagner has done a nice job of adjusting to the speed of the NFL. Wagner is second on the team in tackles with 62, and second-year pro K.J. Wright leads the team with 63. Both are athletic, rangy players who cover a lot of ground and are sure tacklers.

However, both have struggled in pass coverage because of their inexperience, leading to Seattle’s trouble getting off the field after third down.

Grade: C-plus

DEFENSIVE BACKS

The Seahawks’ “Legion of Boom” have given up just nine touchdown passes – tied for seventh in the NFL. Seattle’s back four also has allowed just 20 passing plays of 20 yards or more, tied for 11th.

However, more playmaking ability was expected from Seattle’s talented secondary. The Seahawks have dropped several potential interceptions and are tied for 13th with seven picks. Seattle has yet to score a defensive touchdown this year.

Grade: B

Seattle Seahawks running back Leon Washington (33) runs in the first half of an NFL football game against the Detroit Lions, Sunday, Oct. 28, 2012. in Detroit. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

SPECIAL TEAMS

Seattle’s kickoff coverage unit ranks first in the NFL with opponents starting, on average, at their own 19.4-yard line. Heath Farwell leads the team in special teams tackles with eight. Jon Ryan ranks third in punt average (50.2). Leon Washington is fifth with a 29.8-yard kickoff return average. Jeron Johnson scored a touchdown against Dallas off Malcolm Smith’s blocked punt, which helped Seattle earn an early-season win over the Cowboys.

Grade: B-minus

COACHING

In his third season, Carroll has done a good job of remaking the roster and getting younger. He knows how to motivate players, and Seattle has had a chance to win every game, which isn’t the case for every NFL team.

However, Carroll is 18-22 in Seattle, and another season spent hovering around .500 will be seen as a step back for this organization.

Grade: B-minus

Categories:
General Seahawks
Leave a comment Comments → 31
  1. Seahawks22360 says:

    It’s understood we have a young team. But at the mid point it should no longer be an excuse. We’ve faced the best defense, best offense(s) and were in every game if not winning them. We need to pin our ears back, use this second half home field advantage and make a push for the playoffs. No more “waiting”. Teams today play with rookies at pivotal positions all the time and it’s just a situation where they need to pick things up on the fly. I have faith in a 10-6 record and grabbing a WC spot, as long as we iron out our ever so constant woes. GO HAWKS!!!

  2. RDPoulsbo says:

    I see LB as the weakest group on the team right now, yes even worse than the WR group. Their pass coverage is a huge liability that was exposed by the 49ers and exploited by the Lions on Sunday. The secondary is doing great locking up the WRs, but there’s no need to throw to them when you can dump it off to TEs and RBs with high percentage throws that go for 10 yards and a first down. That has to be a huge focus in the 2nd half of the season, starting with AP next week. He runs the ball hard, but his catching the ball out of the backfield is seriously underrated.

    Coaching deserves a lower score as well. I’ll credit them for changing the offense out of a WCO and more to a play action scheme similar to the Steelers, which is to Wilson’s strengths, but overly conservative play can also blamed for some losses, especially in Arizona and St. Louis. Penalties, especially pre-snap ones way too high and can also be pinned on the coaching staff as well as the individual players.

    On the bright side, I think the WRs are doing better than Eric’s grade. Yes, there’s the drops in the 49er game (the drop that most impacted the game was by Turbin IMO), but Pete’s ultra-conservative gameplans are also a factor in not getting Rice or Tate involved more in the offense. You can also credit Wilson for spreading the ball around as well. 7 guys with 10 or more catches is a lot for a team with the fewest passing attempts (210) in the league.

  3. Dukeshire says:

    It’s all subjective of course, but I’d give the coaching a C or C-minus. From predictable game plans, to passive 3rd down defense, to botched game management (last weeks’ end of half…), etc., I can’t put Carroll and his staff in the B range. However, if they are able to make adjustments the second half, while keeping the penalties down, they could easily shoot up to the high Bs, for me.

  4. Dukeshire says:

    WCO and playaction are not mutually exclusive. It was a staple for the 49ers under Walsh.

  5. hawkfan777 says:

    Poulsbo,

    Nice post!

  6. confucious says:

    The coaching staff has made calls based on the effectiveness of the team on the field. Remember Pete with Tjack, going for it on fourth down all the time because he didn’t know if they would reach the positive side of the fifty yard line again? As this team has grown the coaching staff is making the more traditional, less risky calls on the field. Still, as Duke alluded, there are still some head scratchers. After last weeks balanced offensive showing I see no reason not to open up the playbook and take the training wheels off. Doing that will certainly bring about mistakes and teaching opportunities which will hamper playoff chances. However, if it brings more polished consistency next season, that is a trade I’m willing to make.

  7. NYHawkFan says:

    By Carroll’s own admission, he’s lost focus a couple of times due to a “hormonal upsurge.” So he can hardly expect his young team to remain focused all the time unless he takes the lead in that area. ‘Sorry coach, I had a hormonal upsurge and couldn’t hold onto the ball.’

    So giving the coaching staff a B- is generous. A 4-4 record is average, so the coaching staff shouldn’t be above a C average either. Ken Norton Jr. needs to get to work on his LB’s pass coverage.

  8. GeorgiaHawk says:

    I think this team will come out swinging in the second half. 4-4 is really not bad for who they have played.

    Young team getting better and in the playoff hunt.

    Next year look out!

  9. Helenahawk says:

    Confucius a little confused? The offense was very effective last week because it was balanced, hence unpredictable. Advantage Hawks. We need to do this against the Vikes this week.
    The D lost the game. Right up the middle of the gut, too. Can not let AP and PH have that much space!

  10. RDPoulsbo says:

    Duke: You no longer see the bread and butter of the WCO like 3 step slants or 5 step out anymore. The offense all revolves around a power run game with play action and rollouts. The short, quick throws are gone in favor of QB and pocket movement that are the staple of a Pittsburgh or NE offensive schemes. It’s why I’ve been calling it a WCO in name only, because it certainly isn’t schemed like one. This is actually a good thing since Wilson has had trouble recognizing defenses and hitting hot routes. The change is giving him time to see plays develop.

    Really though, the coaching staff can’t be let off so easy. Yes, PC has drafted well on defense. Then you see the defense among the worst at stopping offenses on 3rd down. The talent on the field is there, but they’re not being put in a position to win on the money down. On offense, they often go into a shell or have crazy playcalling like pitchouts on 3rd and 1. Near the bottom in 3rd down conversions and bottom in red zone conversions. Most of that is on the coaching staff as well.

  11. madpunter88 says:

    A B-minus for the special teams seems kind of harsh. This has been a strength. Ryan’s punt placement is outstanding and his average is in the top three, as you said. Leon Washington’s returns have been good even if he hasn’t broken one yet. They lead the NFL in kick-off average. They even have one touchdown so far. I guess the downside is the one punt botched and the touchdown they gave up on the fake field goal. Actually, I guess that rating is closer than I initially thought.

    Overall, definitely glass half full. This team proves it improves as the season progresses. The defense will be fine; the fact that the offense is improving and RW is looking more comfortable bodes well. They only need to make it in the playoffs. From there good things could happen.

  12. Half a glass that is young and improving = Half Full in my book. Also, our first half schedule was tougher than second half schedule. We can still go 5-3 and have a winning record, or 6-2 and shock some people.

    I’m wondering if it may be time to shuffle to O line with Moffitt coming back to play RG. Is it time to move Giacomini to the bench and move McQuistan to RT? He’s a dependable tackle.

  13. Coaching is a D or maybe a C- at best. Pete Carroll has been out-coached by Jeff Fisher and Jim Harbaugh. He has gone “hormonal” by his own admission and has failed to adjust to the all-too-obvious failure on the 3rd down defense for quite some time. He made a cluster-fork of the pre-season QB competition. I am not sure who is calling the offensive plays, but ultimately he is responsible and there have been many, many questionable decisions in play calling. PC has built a great team but I question his ability to manage it effectively to a championship level.

  14. hawkdawg says:

    Hard to understand the B+ for running backs, when your big horse is 18 yards behind the league leader in rushing yards and is averaging 4.8 yards a carry, and the backup looks very good out there.

    Maybe because of mediocre involvement in passing game?

  15. QB = B Half the interceptions not his fault, scaled down playbook and low number of pass attempts not his fault.

    OL = B+ Stellar running game, solid pass pro, undisciplined players.
    RB = A+ Most teams wish they had our running game. Our backup gains over 4 yards per carry, and our FB kicks ass.
    LB = C- Killing us on third down, sorry guys, you can’t just be good at stopping the run.
    DL – C Over half the sacks are from two games, where’s the pass rush for other six games?
    ST = A- These guys have been solid so far.
    Coaching = C- Too many bone headed mistakes on a .500 team, conservative, predictable, and often poor play calling.

  16. gonesailin06 says:

    I absolutly say fail on the coaching (Dumb predictible play calling that my wife who does not even watch football was calling almost every pass and run play!!!). A+ on recruiting, and all other positions would be graded from hi C’s to B+’s. Go Hawks!!

  17. Ewalters7354 says:

    I give the coaching staff a C minus thus far.While I have been impressed with the
    competitive effort every game, I feel some of those loses are on the coaches inability to adjust during games.Just the same stuff every ball game.That won’t cut it.Stop being so passive with the play calling on both sides of the ball and play to win! RW has proven he can zing it around (though he makes rookie mistakes), the D has proven to be a in your face group.So with that, I believe if the coaching staff starts coaching to win and not be satisfied with close games all the time, this team will end the season with a winning record.Maybe even a play off birth.

  18. Hawksince77 says:

    I like Audible’s grades the best, for what it’s worth (plug nickel, anyone?)

  19. ChrisHolmes says:

    People misunderstand the WC offense all the time… It’s not 3-step drops or 5-step drops or slants or route combinations or any of that. It’s not specific plays like the Air Raid offense or anything of the sort.

    Go back and listen to Walsh talk about the origins of the WCO. It was about nothing more than finding a way to move the chains.

    The conventional wisdom of the day was to run to setup the pass. Walsh felt you could move the chains just as effectively with an efficient passing game. And to do that well, Walsh focused on the details he thought made the passing game efficient and would reduce errors and turnovers. He favored anything he felt reduced mistakes (hence under center snaps instead of shotgun). That’s why you saw short drops and timing-routes tied to a QB’s footwork: it was all about precision designed to negate mistakes and turnovers.

    Yeah, quick passes are a staple of of the WCO, but they are a staple of every offense, not just the WCO. And yes, Walsh used roll-outs and moved his QB around, just as much as teams do today. He used play action too. The whole arsenal was at his disposal.

    The offense has evolved from what it was, certainly, but more in the use of formations (split backs are a thing of the past) and a growing use of the shotgun. The tenants of the offense are still the same though: reduce mistakes, be precise, move the chains. Pass to setup the run. Throw short, precise routes to force the defense to defend all quarters of the field. Burn them when they don’t.

    Seattle’s offense, as it stands today, is not a WCO, in my opinion. Bevell can say all he wants about that, but I disagree. It’s more traditional. We run to setup the pass. We run to setup play action. We use the shotgun a lot, especially with 4WR and empty sets, and that’s at totally different passing offense than the WCO, because routes aren’t tied to footwork anymore.

    Personally, I don’t care much about the labels anymore. I’ve been a fan of New England’s offensive philosophy for years, which I think is way more at the heart of Walsh’s philosophy than Bevell’s offense is, which has been: move the chains by game-planning against your opponent’s defensive weaknesses. No one, IMO, does this better than the Patriots have done it for a decade now.

    The Pats will throw the ball out of the shotgun 40+ times in a game if they think that’s your weakness. If you can’t stop the run, they’ll burn you with the ground game. They can screen you to death, bomb you to oblivion, or pound you until you give up. And no matter what they do, the philosophy is the same: identify the weakness of the defense and exploit it.

    There are so many offensive tools in a toolbox nowadays that it almost makes no sense to force yourself into a box and say, “We’re this. Or we’re that.”

    Screw it. Move the chains. By any means necessary.

  20. I agree with RDPaulsboro,Chris Holmes..Very factual..I enjoy these type of Posts rather than the ranting type.

  21. We’re not getting there w/4 like you HAVE to be able to do against good QBs. More stunts on 3rd down! Just like Irvin’s strip-sack of Cam.

  22. mojjonation says:

    If I remember correctly, it was the Miami Dolphins that used one of the very first versions of the WCO to beat the 85 Bears 46 defense (their lone defeat). After that, the WCO was born and later the Tampa 2 to defend it. When Walsh initiated the WCO, there was no Tampa 2. So now we have 500 derivatives of the WCO, and just as many Tampa 2 variants.

    How do you grade the TE’s so low when they are essentially unused in the offense? Kind of hard to grade out a position when they are nearly invisible for every game. Miller was a three time pro bowler before he got here who averaged 60 catches a season. He just caught his first TD in his 24th game as a Seahawk. If he isn’t running a route, or he isn’t targeted, how do you fairly grade him? If the play calling wasn’t so boring, Miller would be a pro bowler again.

    Run blocking and RB production is stellar. Pass blocking and the passing game, coming along. We have two guys on offense who make up nearly 1/3 of all penalties that have been called on THE ENTIRE TEAM. Un-friggin-acceptable. If there were a stat for momentum or drive killing penalties, or maybe bone headed penalties, Seattle would probably lead the league in that.

    We can have the most dominant D, the best secondary, a punishing ground game, a rookie Qb, and questionable WR’s. At 4-4, it’s easy to grade out. They are .500. No better than average. So it’s a C for all around.

  23. In all the hype we spread about how “great” our favorite team might be, we sometimes forget to see our own weaknesses or somehow think no one else will be smart enough to expose them. Its easy to blame the coach for every play that doesn’t work on the field, but why can’t some of our players execute what the coach tells them to execute?

    If I were to tell you – an experienced NFL coach – that you will play a football team that has an MLB who is a rookie, SLB in only his second year, and a SS who is a force against the run but is a bit too big and stiff to have the agility needed to cover against a quick short passing game, what would you as a coach say? You would say you could attack that defense on third down with quick receivers and inside routes and probably beat them. You would say there are a lot of ways to beat young pass defenders like these and you could take advantage of their inexperience.

    If our defensive schemes are limited, I believe its because its because Coaches Carroll and Bradley can’t expect veteran execution out of younger players. They are great at swarming to the ball and hitting hard, but still learning the finer points of coverage. As long as they are better at season’s end than at the beginning, then I feel the coach has done his job and its hard for me to blame the coach for their youthful mistakes at this stage. Do I want to see more creative stunts and blitz packages? Yes, but much of the credit for last week’s result must go to a great performance by Detroit’s offensive line, receivers, and QB. They schemed and executed too.

  24. PugetHawk says:

    When I first read this and looked at the grades, I thought that they were pretty low. Didn’t see one A and a bunch of C’s. Then it dawned on me, that we are only .500 and therefore average or mediocre. So these grades should probably average out to a C. And they do. Ouch!

  25. C-Holmes, interesting post. Your comments on adjusting to game conditions and attacking weakness is spot on, and one of the big failings I see in the current coaching staff. Harbaugh found our weakness with draws and traps and stuck it to us. What did PC do? Nothing. As much as I detest JH, he does get how to coach in real time.

    PC needs to open up the passing game a bit and lean more on it at times. Run-first is fine except when it doesn’t get enough points to win. If the opponent has a weak pass defense, PC needs to have a pass-first mind set. The Detroit game was a good start but I think Pete needs to be even more flexible to game conditions in the rest of the season.

  26. ChrisHolmes says:

    “Coaches Carroll and Bradley can’t expect veteran execution out of younger players”

    And neither can we. I think this is an incredibly important point to our season. We have young players at some KEY positions (QB, MLB) and we have to allow these kids time to grow up and mature.

    I totally understand Pete’s philosophy: be conservative, lean on the running game, don’t ask too much of the passing game, play hard defense, keep games close. He’s trying to MINIMIZE RISK because he understands that in the NFL, it’s a game where turnovers really do determine outcomes.

    At the same time, I think he has to open things up. You have to allow these kids to take shots, take risks, and learn.

    And maybe even more important than that, you have to start attacking your opponent’s weaknesses.

    Now, we have done that some. Against New England it was clear their weakness was a young and inexperienced secondary. We won that game on a play action bomb with Rice splitting those young, inexperienced safeties. That’s the mark of a team that knows their opponent’s weakness and want to attack and exploit that. And our guys executed.

    Against Detroit, it was well-known to the entire free world that their strength was their front 7 and their weakness was a porous defensive backfield. It made sense to throw on them. And we did. To an extent.

    I want to see us do more of that. Figure out where the weakness is and go after it. And I really don’t care about the methodology. If a team is weak against the run, hey – we have a pretty damn good running game. Let’s use it. But if a team is weak against the pass, we need to let Wilson loose and we need to gameplan to exploit it.

    I think we’re growing. I’m not upset with the growth. What I am upset about, as a fan, is our 3rd and long defense…

  27. RDPoulsbo says:

    I think scheme and philosophy is very easily mixed up when talking about individual plays and you lose what you’re trying to do to defenses. With the WCO, the short passing game is meant to force defenses to defend sideline to sideline and move their secondary up to the line of scrimmage. Power running games also help with that. When you get defenses moving forward, that’s when you burn them over the top.

    NE and Pitt are a little different in that their offenses are rooted in the Erhardt-Perkins scheme. They want to run first while the passing game has a lot of play action and TE heavy formations to accomplish the same thing with the secondary to burn them over the top. Of course, Belichick has employed a lot of spread formations that feature his TEs and RBs out wide as of late, but the basic philosophy is the same. I see Bevell borrowing heavily from Belichick lately, especially when you see him go empty backfield on 3rd downs with RBs and TEs split out.

    You can contrast both of these philosophies with SD or Dallas and NO, who like to use more WRs and throw deep often to get defenses wanting to drop back to defend the deep ball so they can try to gash you with the run.

  28. mojjonation says:

    Holmes, I totally agree on the attack that which is weak standpoint and I don’t understand why that isn’t more teams bread and butter (unless a particular team does not have the personnel to pull off such a game plan). As much as everyone outside of New England hates Bellichump, the guy can pretty much prepare a game plan to beat anyone (except the Giants in the Super Bowl). If Pittsburgh is playing against a team that is weak against the run, you can guarantee that they will run the ball 40 or 50 times depending on if their RB’s are healthy. Seattle, not so much. If something is working, half the time they throw some gimmicky play in that horrendously backfires and forces them into a predictable second or third and long situation. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

    They forgot one category…

    Halftime and in game adjustments…Grade…F.

    As much as I like the excitement of watching our team drive the field in the last few minutes of a game and win (which TJack couldn’t do), if some in game or halftime adjustments were made, it probably wouldn’t have come down to that. Woulda could shoulda.

    I mean seriously, how many coaches will throw 47 fade routes from the 7 yard line? Adjust people!

  29. ChrisHolmes says:

    One thing I notice with coaches and teams in the NFL is that there are two general philosophies:

    1) We’re going to do what we do and you gotta stop us. We’re going to practice our offense and we’re going to run it, no matter what you are doing defensively.

    2) We’re going to adapt our offense every week to whatever you’re weakest at defending.

    Both approaches *can* work. Holmgren’s version of the WCO was famous for being type #1. He was going to run his offense. Sure, there were wrinkles to offset some things the defense might do. Maybe more screens in the gameplan to offset an aggressive defense. But for the most part, he was going to run his offense. Holmgren worked on running the plays over and over, being exceptionally precise, so that defenses had to be perfect to stop it. And that approach did get us to a Superbowl.

    Bellichick is the opposite. Every week he gameplans to attack the weakness in the other team, specifically. He’ll morph is offense however it is needed. That was never more evident than the 2007 campaign. Some weeks you’d see them run nothing but empty backfield set out of shotgun and shred a secondary that couldn’t compete. Other weeks they’d run the ball more and use more play action. They’d smashmouth people. They’d strike deep… they could do it all. Of course, it really helps to have Brady running that offense. But if you have a good QB, you can do that.

    I think the reason more teams don’t do #2 is simple: I think they’re more comfortable trying to perfect their own offense instead of significantly altering it every week to attack an opponent’s greatest weakness, and also I think a lot of coaches are not as smart as we are lead to believe. I think some coaches just aren’t adept at identifying weaknesses and exploiting them.

    I mean, I have this saying, and it makes people laugh when I say it, but they always followup with, “That is true”. And the saying is this: “Not everyone got an ‘A’ in school.”

    Even the worst lawyer has a law degree. Even the worst doctor has a medical degree. Even the worst coach in the NFL is still a head coach in the NFL.

    Bellichick is considered a “genius” in his particular realm, but I think the simple fact is: he’s just smarter than everyone else in his profession, and he prepares that way. So he and his staff can do things that other staffs can’t. Like totally revamp their offense week to week to take advantage of a defense’s weakness.

    I mean, look at the guys who have left the Patriots and moved on. How many of them have been as successful as Bellichick? I thought Scott Pioli was going to totally turn around KC because I thought he was as responsible as Bellichick for the players New England had and the way they go about doing things. But now that I’ve seen what’s happening in KC and what has continued to happen in New England… man, I’m a believer that the guy who makes that place go is totally Bellichick. It’s all him. Josh McDaniels, Charlie Wise, Romeo Crennel, et al – no one has done a darn thing once they’ve left Bellichick’s side.

    Right now, when I think about the Seahawks, I’m inclined to give the credit to Schneider. The front office has picked some real good players and been really good at finding diamonds in the rough. But I think the jury is still out on whether PC and his staff are the sort of strategists and schemers and game-planners that can take a team to the Superbowl. Right now, judging by halftime adjustments, game plans, and how we attack teams, I am not convinced that Pete has those minds on his staff yet.

  30. Dukeshire says:

    ChrisHolmes – It’s about *how* those chains are moved. Those things you note are critical elements that go into WCO concepts. Timing and precision were the bedrock of his scheme. Routes were timed to match the receiver’s steps and quarterback’s drop, especially in the 3 and 5 step drops.

    RDPoulsbo – I don’t disagree with what you are saying in principle. However, NE and Pitt rarely move the pocket in their passing offenses. Nor do they run a WCO scheme, we agree there (no question about it). But if one was to compare what Seattle seems to be evolving into, the Saints come to mind. Seattle isn’t spreading defenses out like NO, but regarding pocket movement, power inside running, zone reads, and healthy doses of vertical passing, I think that’s a fairer comparison.

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