Seattle’s “New” Offense: Expect The Unexpected


The Seahawks are set on offense, lined up in a standard split-back formation. Deon Butler is at the flanker position, set right of tight end John Carlson. Hasselbeck snaps the ball and hands the ball to Julius Jones, who breaks right. The offense begins flowing right, and Deon Butler swings around and takes a hand-off from Jones. It is a reverse, and now Butler is flashing his overwhelming speed as he races around the opposite side, completely catching a majority of the defense off guard.

Get used to it; this is not Mike Holmgren’s offense anymore.

Over the last decade, we’ve all been exposed to Holmgren’s dull, yet precise, version of the west coast offense. Even the most casual spectators have considered Holmgren’s offensive style to be rather boring or predictable. I’d prefer to think of it as efficient and accurate, and potentially unstoppable if executed properly.

Seattle’s offense under Jim Mora will offer fans an entirely different look, although many of the west coast principles will remain unchanged.

Offensive coordinator Greg Knapp, who has worked with Jim Mora several times prior to Seattle, will handle most of the offensive responsibilities. Just like Holmgren was offense-minded and expected nothing less than perfection from offensive players, Mora will focus more on the defensive side of the football.

Knapp has installed a new zone-blocking scheme, which will make a huge difference in the running game. Running backs won’t have to make such elaborate reads every play, and will be able to make an initial cut and burst through the defense. This scheme caters well to the running style of Julius Jones, and the veteran back should see improvement from last season.

The Seahawks will also employ some new tricks and unconventional plays, as mentioned previously. A reverse or double-reverse play shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone, especially when utilized to exploit opposing defenses or to take advantage of the skills of certain offensive players.

Earlier in training camp, the Seahawks flashed a reverse option pass, where T.J. Houshmandzadeh took the end-around and threw a pass downfield to Nate Burleson. The pass was intercepted by safety Brian Russell, but surprised fans that had never witnessed such a “blasphemous” trick play under the Holmgren era cheered in response.

A few practices later, the Seahawks ran a flea-flicker, where Julius Jones took a handoff and then tossed the ball back to Matt Hasselbeck. Although the unorthodox play typically fools defenders, cornerback Ken Lucas made a nice adjustment and broke up the deep ball that was intended for Deon Butler.

Are these trick plays a sign of things to come? Or is it just Mora’s way of adding a wrinkle to training camp? Possibly something meant to entertain fans during open practices?

Either way, it is something new that we haven’t seen in the Pacific Northwest in some time. Usually, we’re on the opposing end of those types of plays – most recently, in (ugh) Super Bowl XL.

It will be interesting to see what happens during the season with Seattle’s new offense, and how everything will differ from the Holmgren era. Just don’t be surprised when Deon Butler takes an end-around to the house for six.