In his many press conferences Pete Carroll has stated he wants his passes and runs to be very close to 50% each by the end of the year. He accounts that different games will be game planned different ways, but in the end they should even out.
It seemed like the seahawks were a particularly run heavy team this year. They passed 509 and ran 385 times for a 57/43 pass to run ratio. It wasnt as clear cut as it looked on the surface. It also wasn't all in the first half where we were running our slowed down version of a "no huddle" offense.
There are many arguements for running the football, and that is why it has been a tennant of every decade, even the traditional West Coast Offense under Bill Walsh uses the run heavily. The first and most important of these tennants is ball control. Ball control has two parts. Turnovers and time of possession.
Turnovers are a tricky point, everyone agrees they are important, but its very hard to duplicate creating them. On the other hand it is fairly simple on how to limit your own. Don't throw interceptions and don't fumble the ball. This basic concept is why the 49ers are still playing while the Saints are getting ready for next year.
If you play the percentages, and Pete does, the run is the way to control the ball. This year we had 14 INTS thrown (13 were Tarvaris Jackson and 1 was Charlie Whitehurst) and 11 fumbles by QBs during pass attempts, 6 of those were lost, for a total of 20 turnovers in 509 passing attempts. This is one turnover every 25.45 pass attempts. Comparitively other ball carriers had 6 fumbles and 3 lost, 3 turnovers in 385 attempts is about 1 every 128 attempts.
Establishing that running the ball creates less turnovers isnt everything though. Time of possession is critical as well. The more time you control the less time the opposition has to score. The more time of possession you have the more time your defense gets to rest. In the Pittsburg game, the Steelers had 21 more plays than we did. That is not only 21 more plays the defense had to be on the field but its also time our defense wasn't resting. The average time per play was 34 seconds for the Steelers. That is almost 12 minutes of rest time in a 60 minute game that our defense lost.
Anyone who has ever played on the defensive line will tell you that that rest is very much needed for the big guys. That is where fatigue sets in the most. Losing that momentum, that push in the trenches is dibilitating to a defense.
The second big reason to run the ball is balance. Every defensive coach will tell you that if an offense is one dimensional, especially the pass, its easier to defend against. Our own defense has highlighted this exact philosophy. Make the offense predictable on 3rd down and you become more effective. If you can run the ball and get into managable 3rd downs you retain your balance. The defense will have to respect that you can run, so they can't load up, pin their ears back and get the QB.
Balance also has another part too. Where the ball is distributed on the field. Because we run between the tackles so much, it often opens up our passing. As you watch our offense, you tend to notice a few things. We throw a lot of WR screens (even if a Tailback is motioned out for it) and deep passes. These are two types of "explosive plays" that are critical to an offense.
Then there is play action pass. Every defensive coach will tell you, there is nothing worse than having to deal with effective play action pass. It causes defenses to be completely baffled and can generate a lot of explosive plays. Re-watch the Redskins game, and see how play action destroyed our defense. Its a very powerful weapon.
Mental capacity and emotions play a huge role on a football field. These are the third reason Pete will continue to run the football. Pete wants a big tough agressive football team that wont back down from a challenge. Its the "Nail eaters" and "Dirtbags" that he wants on his team. Its stamped all over the field. Browner, Sherman, Bryant, Branch, Mebane, Hill, Gallery, Unger, Lynch, Jackson and even Baldwin all exude toughness with every breath, and nastiness with every drop of sweat. These aren't your Holmgren/Ruskell Seahawks.
Lynch embodies this attitude with tought never say quit mentality. The same toughness the Bears had when the late great Walter Peyton used to do the same thing. Now i dont think Marshawn has Sweetness' physical attributes, but he does have that same never die attitude. It is contagious, and breeds an atmosphere where players WANT to play for the team, quite the opposite of say Philly. Chemestry is not something you can just scoff at, it's real its tangible, but still not measureable.
The fourth reason Pete will continue to run is talent. If you look at our talent, it leans heavily towards the run. Most of the Talent has been PCJS's choosing. Look at our linemen, every single one of them is more adept at run blocking than pass blocking, though truthfully Okung could be considered just below elite status in both. We had 10 Linemen for the majority of the year, and with exception of practice squad player Osborne, every one of them is 300 + pounds ( if Gibson takes a crap he might be below 300 for a few minutes). They all are aggressive and nasty. Most of them have a lot of need for improved pass protection technique though.
These are the guys that Pete picked, to go pass happy with these linemen would be a complete tactical flaw. You play to your strengths. Pete showed he will continue to play to our strengths even in Chicago, an excellent run defense team.
I want to make this clear, that none of these reasons preclude a massive upgrade in the QB. Even staying in this system, a better QB can make a ton of difference. For instance averaging the top 10 QBs in the league, the average completion percentage is 64.7% and the average Y/A is 8.3 (over 100 attempts to qualify). with 509 attempts that would equal 329 completions for 4224 yards. This year we got 299 completions and 3444 yards. a significant boost to the offense and putting the QB inside the top 7 for stats. I can only speculate how that effects first downs and TDs, but it doesnt hurt them.
Lastly, If this year is any indication, our offense works better with a strong run game. For instance in our 9 losses we averaged 33.7 pass attempts for an average of 210.7 yards. We ran an average 23 times for 96.1 yards. In our 7 wins we passed for an average 29.2 times a game for 221 yards and ran for an average 34 times for 122.7 yards. An average of 6.5 more plays a game. Our passing yards went up while number of attpemts went down. the extra 6.5 plays earned us an average 36.9 yards a game. Those are significant increases, and why you saw those games become wins more often.
Pete knows running means winning, with an elite QB or not, expect the Seahawks to continue to pound the rock in our opponents' grills for the better part of next year and into the future.
*FYI, I edited this, there were numerous obvious spelling and grammatical errors. The content was an interesting read and I wanted to make sure it was more easily read by all and the message wasn't lost in the errors. Everyone, try to make sure to edit and spell check your work before posting. Thanks! --Tyler Jorgensen (formerly Whiskey Chainsaw).