Seahawks offensive problems continue; time to let Tom Cable call the plays?


There are three distinct ways you can capsulize a team’s success or failures in any given year; there’s could have, should have, and did. The team on the way up, looking for any sign of progress, may focus on how they could have won this game or that game. Many Seattle Seahawk fans right now are focusing on how they should have won every game they’ve played so far this year, and in fact head coach Pete Carroll is even driving that train himself with his comments this week. And then there’s did. Did focuses on the reality of what we’re seeing (or not seeing) right in front of us. Sometimes it’s deceiving, maybe the Seahawks ARE much better than their record makes them appear…..

Or maybe they’re not, at least not in their current form. Not with the Seahawks offensive problems that have become increasingly clear with each mounting loss.

Sometimes the most difficult thing to do when running a team, whether you sit in the General Manager’s chair or that of the Head Coach, is determine when drastic measures are called for as things start to slip away. Many times, staying the course is the right call, and that may very well be the case with the 2015 Seahawks. But other times (in fact I would argue often) the opposite is true. The 2015 Seattle Mariners are a prime example of waiting too long to make changes, excusing their slow start as something that would eventually make a dramatic turnaround without any significant personnel or strategic changes.

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Sometimes this means shuffling your lineup, but it seems clear that for the most part the Seahawks are putting the best 22 players on the field that they have, and that those 22 players are still better than what most of the other teams in the league can produce. So, that leaves us with changes in scheme, or strategy.

Or who’s calling the plays.

I’m on record as defending Darrell Bevell longer than most other quick-to-overreact fans have. I’ve always felt it much too lazy and convenient to blame the play-caller when a given play doesn’t work. But what we’ve seen this year is more than a bad game or two, rather a disturbing trend. A good play caller has to have a feel for the game, but also for his personnel. He must have a knack for putting the ball in the right players hands at the right time. He has to have a confidence that something will work, even if it’s been stuffed for a play or two, or even a quarter or two. And he has to be able to figure out a way to scheme towards the strength of his personnel (the playmakers) and away from it’s weaknesses (the offensive line). Darrell Bevell has become hesitant, indecisive, and as a result the Seahawks have lost their identity on offense.  They aren’t balanced enough, and they’ve become predictable. They don’t dictate the action to the defense, or adjust to what the defense is doing. The skill position guys aren’t getting the ball consistently enough to do what they do best. Doug Baldwin is one of the best 3rd down slot guys in the league, but where has he been the last few games as Seattle has struggled mightily on that down? Why has there been no attempt to get the dynamic Tyler Lockette the ball in space where he can do the most damage? And why, please tell me why, we have refused to run the ball in the 4th quarter while protecting a lead the last two games?

It’s time for a change, and the answer is right there, already in place and on the Seattle payroll. And it’s not QB coach Carl Smith, who has 12 years experience as an NFL offensive coordinator.

It’s Tom Cable.

Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

He’s not your typical offensive line coach, he also holds the titles of Assistant Head Coach as well as running game coordinator. He’s as much a part of the offensive game plan as Bevell is, it’s just that Bevell is the play caller.

This wouldn’t be as crazy or unorthodox as you might think, and it wouldn’t even require Carroll to fire Bevell. He could remain, and Cable and he would share the same duties as they do now…… six days a week. Except on Sundays, Cable would be the guy calling the plays.

And yes, he’s done it before. He was Offensive Coordinator at Colorado in 1999 before getting the Head Coach job at his alma mater Idaho the next year. Then he served in that position for UCLA in 2004 and 2005 under Karl Dorrell. And he had some success. In 2004 the Bruins finished 4th overall in total offense in the Pac-10. They slipped to 5th the next year but actually improved in each key category (but so did the rest of the conference.) Diving deeper into the numbers, there’s a lot to like. As you might expect he favored the run, but his QB was the less-than-inspiring Drew Olsen both years, while he had the luxury of Maurice Drew in his backfield. Still, there was outstanding balance, and you can see a slight shift in philosophy, to a high volume of pass plays as he transitioned from his first year to his second. In 2004 UCLA racked up 2701 passing yards to 2219 rushing. In 2005 those numbers were 3244/1928. Looking at third downs it’s even more evident; in 2004 the first downs achieved by run and pass were virtually split 50/50, while in 2005 it was closer to 40/60.

In his one year at Colorado, the Buffaloes racked up 423 yards a game in total offense, good for third in the Big-12, with the legendary Mike Moschetti at QB and Cortlen Johnson as his primary RB. In other words, there’s a demonstrated ability there as a play-caller. It’s at the college level, sure, but it’s a possible indicator of his ability.

Typically, when fans start calling for someone such as Bevell to be fired, my first response is “for who?” It’s easy to want someone out but much harder to find someone capable to replace them, particularly in the middle of a season. As much as the common fan believes they could do just as good a job, this is a highly skilled position that requires a unique set of skills and experience. There just aren’t any elite coordinators sitting at home on their couch right now waiting for the phone to ring (unless you preferred Jeremy Bates and his 4th down fade calls).

Clearly, a change like this couldn’t be executed on a short week such as this, but if the Hawks were to fall in San Francisco Thursday night, putting their 2015 season in significant peril, it could be done given the extra time before the trip to Dallas.

And perhaps it should be done.

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