[Hey guys, a friend of local favorite Bill T was kind enough to write up this piece for the site. Hope you enjoy!]
I've decided that someone needs to do an analysis on the Seattle coaching staff. Since the idea was birthed inside my head – where some of my strong opinions on the subject also reside – my brain has deduced that I am the most logical candidate to do so.
It was during the Arizona game that I started to wonder what was wrong with the Seahawks. (Actually, I have been wondering that since early last season, but it took another big turn on Sunday.) You see, the team is finally healthy. When is the last time we've said that? I know that Lofa and Walt are out for the year, but for the rest of the team, we really don't have any excuses anymore. We have to ask: Who is to blame for us getting beat so bad?
And without the injuries to be our requisite scapegoat, I'm thinking that it makes sense to look in three places: the GM, the coaching staff, and the players.
The GM is another subject which we will leave alone for now. But suffice to say, he has assembled the team we have, and I say the team has talent. We have some good playmakers on both sides of the ball, and the roster is full of character guys who play hard. The players themselves seem to be giving plenty of effort, and so I think the time is upon us to look at the coaches' part of things.
First, let's look at THE OFFENSE
The offense, obviously, has had to deal with the most injuries. It's hard to gauge just how effective the offense would have been with everyone healthy. We gained 472 yards Sunday, so it's not completely broken. But the offensive production spike has also coincided with a fairly drastic increase in pass attempts, starting against the Lions. Not exactly the offense Greg Knapp had mapped out at the start of the season.
I should give Knapp credit for changing his stripes, and going to the air. A LOT. He has thrown in some interesting plays and formations, notably the Seneca wildcat stuff, as well as the empty backfield looks. I also like how they have drawn up quite a few running plays from the shotgun.
But probably the biggest criticism I have of Knapp is his play calling. He's kind of getting predictable. He relies a little too much on that draw play when it's third-and-long. When Butler gets in the game, we all know it's time for Hass to try his one shot deep for the game. And for crying in the beer, could you please use ANY kind of misdirection when it's fourth-and-short?
Grading the scheme is tough, when I'm really not sure what it is intended to look like. But I would say that our running game still needs work (despite the awakening that occurred Sunday), and that we seem to be lacking an intermediate passing game. We have a talented receiver corps and a good QB, so I have to suggest that the scheme and the play calling are likely to be at least partially to blame.
Ok, now let's look at THE DEFENSE.
It's hard for me to know how much of the defensive decisions come from Mora vs. Bradley. But either way, our defense is definitely nothing special. Improved from last season to be sure, but with all our personnel healthy, I have to wonder why we hardly even slowed down Warner in the second half. To be fair, one of the biggest reasons is the disappearance of Patrick Kerney. Obviously, the coaching staff had nothing to do with this important factor missing from their pass rush.
On the positive side, I see fewer big plays allowed than last season. I also see fewer missed tackles, a bunch of hard-hitting and players flying to the ball. Occasionally, I have even detected a slight swagger. The coaching staff deserves the credit for these changes.
On the negative side, I feel like we have three defensive calls in total. We have our standard defense. We have our standard defense plus we blitz a guy or two. And then we have our "rush-three-while-dropping-everyone-else-into-a-soft-zone" defense. (This, of course, only actually works well when playing Detroit.) The defensive plan for each game seems predicated on the hope that we can get pressure on the QB without blitzing. But we all know that our defensive personnel just isn't doing that, and the coaches need to find a way to compensate. They haven't.
For his part, he has displayed some leadership. He has tried to be positive in the midst of a difficult season, and the players are still playing hard for him. He shows his passion, and I see the team kind of displaying a little bit more of that too. I like his willingness to make a difficult call at the risk of getting criticized for it. (Fourth-and-one against Detroit, and the fake punt in the first Cards game.)
But you have to say that the ultimate responsibility for finding a way to win starts and stops with him. I think he is expected to make something work with the pieces he has. I don't see him utilizing the strengths of this team completely, and I don't feel he is adequately compensating for the weaknesses either. Also, I think it's valid to question some of his choices of who is starting each week. A good example is Justin Forsett, who seemed better suited to the offense since preseason, even though Mora has kept Jones as the starter. Sunday provided a good showcase for what Forsett can do, and I have to wonder why he hasn't been featured more previously.
In conclusion, this is still a team in transition. I see positive things happening, as well as a bunch of stuff that frustrates the crap out of me. Through nine games, I would grade the coaching staff to be "more-good-than-bad" so far. I look forward to seeing how things progress, now that preparation for the 2010 season has unofficially begun.