First read Danny's piece, and then if you are a glutton for verbose punishment, come back for this one. It's long and takes too long to get to the point. And I don't have time to edit it, or even really publish it, but I'm motivated to get it out there.
Pete Carroll fired arm strength out of the playbook. That's how it felt, right? Familiarity bred contempt in our case, with the WCO. Modern football and Jeremy Bates were fired, moving pockets were fired. A baseline minimum number of vertical passing attempts per game were fired.
Stubborn, steadfast commitment to an ineffective run game must have been hired. If lack of that is why Bates was fired, and Minnesota's offense was good, when it was good, because of the ability of their run game, then that must have been hired. High percentage was hired. Short yardage was hired.
That might be an unfair characterization, but I'm not so sure it's that far from the truth. It wouldn't be right to pin "stubborn, steadfast running" on Bevell, but Carroll undoubtedly wants to run more, wants to run more effectively. It's a core part of his design and philosophy. We know it's key to why Carroll didn't keep Bates moving forward. And we know Minnesota ran.
Minnesota and the 5 years Bevell was OC there is the most significant piece of evidence we have in trying to figure out what our offense is going to be like. A good starting point. But first here are two clips I found of Bevell that shed small amounts of light on how he sees things and what it might mean for our offense as long as he's here.
In this first clip, Bevell is answering a question about the loss of Chester Taylor, and the subsequent drafting of Toby Gerhart. The question starts at 3:00 but the telling portion of Bevell's answer starts at 3:28.
What any staff member is obligated to respond with for a question like this is a hat tip and lip service to the departed player without suggesting anything untoward for the replacement player. Nothing here differs from that, except that then Bevell reflects on the "shifting sands" nature of roster state and the adjustments that warrants. That's not a unique view by any means.
But the way he illustrates his recognition of how different runners have different strengths, and how they'll never find another runner with "the exact blend" of skills as Taylor, suggests to me a Bevell offense is not a static approach where only players who match the requirements can be utilized. Differences between passers are more distinct and noticeable. Differences between runners can be more masked and subtle. Recognizing the implications of a different runner suggests a nuanced grasp of the implications rather than just the surface stuff that an amateur like me recognizes (speed vs. power backs, vertical vs. Walsh Coast Offense QB).
Seattle won't have Minnesota's personnel so it's possible Minnesota's offense won't be a good facsimile. Within Pete Carroll's framework, definitely Bevell will have to work, and so in a broader sense players who don't fit the requirements of a position would figure to be moved or passed over.
If you'd like a statistical look at the Bevell Vikings, I would point you to where you already know to look: AdvancedNFLStats and Football Outsiders. Scan through the years. Feel fee to disagree with me. I would assert my summary as: two special units in two special years. 2007, Adrian Peterson's rookie year, they excelled at running despite being weighed down by poor passing. In 2009, goodFavre passed very well while the running game quietly lacked effectiveness. The rest of the time, the offense was not so effective. In 2008, an assumed-good follow-up year with AP & Chester Taylor remained somewhat prolific in running, but faltered in effectiveness.
I don't come up with anything in trying to apply any implications for Seattle's 2011+ offense.
So I go back to what was suggested by the video: Bevell is not necessarily rigid. He appears to share Carroll's run-first philosophy, coupled with aggressiveness vertically in the passing game. A modern WCO, if you will, that for the most part does seem to reflect the Childress Vikings intentions. A potent passing game built off a formidable run game. Honestly when Childress left Andy Reid I did not see the same inclinations the Reid Eagles had in the passing game with Childress. I suspect the Reid offense is no closer to the Bevell WCO than the Mike Sherman Packers offense is, but that Childress, who knew Bevell from Wisconsin, is much closer.
I won't elaborate further since Danny Kelly already did a pretty good job on this part, and I am in full agreement on his assessment. But I will get back to the implications on FutureQB and why Bates was let go in a moment.
Next clip: A nice little breakdown with Brian Billick, on the check and audible system set up for use with Favre. Despite the sentiment that the veteran experience enables this kind of checking, it looks rather simplified to me, compared to how complex commonplace audible systems can be. Not terribly complex, but this particular example makes the system seem boolean, contingent on whether the safety moves into the box. This is the kind of football principles that most fans have been aware of for quite a while, even if most of their knowledge derives from color commentary by Madden, Aikman and Simms.
And this, again, seems to mesh well with the rest of the pieces of information about what Carroll intends to do on offense. Danny O'Neil has made the analogy several times, that the role of the QB in this offense is more of a point guard, distributing the ball to playmakers.
It also meshes well with the relation of the running game, particularly the power running game, with the passing game. We know and can see how either facet of offense can benefit from a strong supplement. We've seen the run be built off the pass and vice versa. But here, we can see an added component that further strengthens the idea of the vertical passing being built off the run game, specifically.
The focus on being flexible enough to capitalize on a defense being a man short, position-wise, to defend the run, is much more tangible, than the general idea that an effective running game is going to warrant more attention from the DC and the players. It's evident that some of the focus of this offense is being versatile enough to exploit your run or pass defense if you lean towards defending one more than the other.
So how different is this from Jeremy Bates? The offense Bates brought to USC and Seattle fell pretty close to the Shanahan tree. The more I ponder why Bates was fired, the more I buy that he was not retained for the future and Carroll took the initiative to make the move now while his team is still solidifying. And the more I'm sure Bates was let go for one of two reasons, or a blend of the two: performance or philosophy.
I don't think it's plausible that Bates was let go purely on account of performance. It was just too soon, and the personnel is just not there. I think it's philosophy, but I think the problems with the running game substantiated the philosophical differences.
Philosophically, I would relate to Bates: I would be more inclined to cut bait and make lemonade out of what I had. If the run game wasn't working but I could get some movement through the air, I would. I think Carroll saw that Bates not feeling fixing the run game was a priority was problematic.
There are 40 seconds on the play clock, but you have 20 at best, as a play caller. You have to get the play to the QB in the huddle and allow time for adjustments, personnel changes, motion, and audibles, at the line. Depending on what and how much you do, 20 could really be pushing it. You have to consider down & distance, remaining game clock, personnel packages on both sides of the ball, and what's working and what's not, for you or them. Whether it's due to mismatches or scheme, a significant amount of success and failure in football rides on capitalizing on what's working for you or not working for the defense. And that often changes by the series, as players are rotated in & out.
So you have to think quick and get the plays out fast. With more time there would be more time to be driven by intentional design, but in that scenario your tendencies are going to come out. The 2010 Seahawk offense had trouble running and passing, but the passing was not hopeless.
Did the reliance on passing forfeit opportunity to get the run game going? I don't think so, but I wonder that Carroll might. And concede that he might be right.
So that's my best stab at why Carroll made the change, and that more running, earlier, is possibly the biggest difference between the two offenses.
Finally, one more piece about Bevell, specifically regarding differences with Bates. A quote from Carroll:
Darrell Bevell's hiring away from the Minnesota Vikings indicated, on the surface, that the Seahawks might not value mobility as much from their quarterbacks. Coach Pete Carroll said otherwise over breakfast during the recent NFL owners meeting. He said Bevell and new assistant head coach/offensive line Tom Cable "totally believe in the moving of the quarterback as a complement to the running game and play-action passing game." That was likewise a point of emphasis under previous coordinator Jeremy Bates.
Yeah, I'm thinking the two offenses are going to remain fairly similar. And Bevell's hiring does not mean the passing game will suffer hypoxia beyond 12 yards. I lean towards Bates philosophically, but I'm not dissatisfied by what I'm finding about Bevell and Carroll's intentions.
What that means for the QB: within offenses similar to what we'll be running, Favre and Hasselbeck, two not-athletic QBs, were capable and effective on partial roll-outs, bootlegs, moving pockets and play-action. So, too, was Ryan Mallett as Nate Dogg pointed out to us with a Rob Staton link. Problems are still raised by the idea of using a designed moving pocket with Mallett too much, however, and it does sound like it's a regular and active part of the plan.
Really I think all the QBs of this draft are in our consideration, and the team will perform due diligence on. I had felt that Jake Locker was not as strong a consideration as Mallett & Ponder, but I've come to think they may like him almost as much. Dalton & Kaepernick seem to be decent choices for us, as well. Strange how the closer you look, this year, the more prospects seem to be viable, rather than fewer, which is the more natural progression.