Next season, for the first time in ten years, we will not see the Seattle Seahawks using the pass to set up the run. Not exclusively, anyways, as was the norm in Mike Holmgren’s version of the west coast offense.
With new head coach Jim Mora being a defensive specialist, offensive coordinator Greg Knapp will almost entirely control the offense next season. As evident after reading through excerpts from Knapp’s meeting with the media last Tuesday, it appears the Seahawks will operate a more balanced offense, and focus a lot more on running the ball.
The prospect of a more balanced offense is pretty exciting – not only will it be a fresh style of Seahawks football, but it should also mesh better with our committee approach at running back that has existed since Shaun Alexander’s fall from prominence after Super Bowl XL.
Running the football successfully has been hard to come by since Shaun Alexander’s record setting 2005 season. If you remember, Mike Holmgren pledged to pass the ball more often and employ heavier receiver sets the following year because of our inability to run. This was a feat in itself, since Holmgren was already prone to getting things started through the air. An ineffective running game the past few years has led to some excitement at the prospect of a Knapp-led offense; the guy really knows how to run the football.
While offensive coordinator with the Falcons (and a part of Mora’s staff), Knapp’s offense led the league in rushing yards from 2004-2006. In addition, Knapp’s offensive units typically finish somewhere among the top ten in the league in rushing every year.
Even though running the ball will be a bigger focus for the upcoming season, new head coach Jim Mora (and Knapp) will still utilize a west coast style of offense. As mentioned previously, however, it will not be the hybrid version that we’ve seen over the past decade, but a more balanced variation with zone blocking schemes and a heavier rotation at running back.
This new offense won’t affect Matt Hasselbeck much, as his skills already match well with the west coast offense. Although it won’t be as pass-oriented as during Holmgren’s tenure, Hasselbeck will still manage a very similar passing game. A lot of people assume that since Jim Mora had Michael Vick in Atlanta, there is no way that Matt Hasselbeck will succeed. This conviction could not be further from reality, because an accurate quarterback such as Hasselbeck actually fits better in Mora’s offense than Vick. Looking back to Mora’s time in Atlanta, Michael Vick was never truly able to master the west coast offense.
Although Mike Holmgren had a lot of success on the offensive side of the ball during his tenure in Seattle, it will be interesting to see how the team reacts to the new style that Knapp brings to the table. After watching the offense struggle last season, a more balanced “committee” approach may better fit our current personnel. Now all we need is a playmaker at wide receiver. Michael Crabtree anyone?