History doesn't repeat itself, but it does rhyme, or so said Mark Twain.
The 2013 - 2014 Seattle Seahawks are painful to watch. The best defense in 30 years, married to a wrinkle free, disconnected 1970's offense of easily diagnosed formations which blunders all over the field. The last time this years edition of offense really excelled was in the comeback against Tampa Bay.
Notice it was a comeback.
The 'Hawks love to start the game in "establish the run" mode, something which historically speaking another successful Seahawks coach loved to do. Chuck Knox liked to run on first down - almost always. When down and distance got a little difficult, dang, roll out 4 wide receivers and pitch it. Probably with a defensive end in the QB's face. (Sound familiar, current Seahawks fans?)
Chuck Knox had one problem. He didn't win much in the playoffs. He never made it to the biggest game. It's one thing to play the offensive tortoise card all year, when your defense is superb. One can win a lot of games by a touchdown, or three points, doing that. So when the talk radio guys chirp out the coaches line in defending the 2014 Seahawks offense, and point to the fact that Marshawn Lynch ran for 140 yards versus the Saints, all that means is the Seahawks have a power run game, just like the 49'rs. Who cares if Lynch runs for 80 or 160 yards - a power run game is a power run game. It has nothing to do with adding points. It is nice. As used by Carroll, it is intended to speed up the game (take time off the clock) removing scoring opportunities for BOTH teams, something I don't understand when a talent like Wilson is ready to roll.
Whichever NFC team wins this bare - knuckle brawl on Sunday will be facing Tom Brady or Peyton Manning - quarterbacks who not only have the ability to throw for 150 yards and 3 TD's in a quarter when pressed, but have PRACTICE doing it. That's success in the modern NFL. Andrew Luck is learning how to become this kind of QB - not by "taking care of the ball," either. I bet when he gets to the sideline after an INT, Luck's coach tells him, "hey, I like what you were thinking, you missed it for this reason, next time you'll hit it." Wilson doesn't get to learn by making mistakes. He isn't supposed to make mistakes. But he is supposed to "be himself." Sure, Bevell. They make robots in Japan, too. In the long run, these tethers will lower Wilson's ceiling and it is sad to watch.
The power run game is just a tool in the modern NFL. The Seahawks use it predictably (especially early in games) and to a fault. It caught up with them last year in Atlanta so they switched to their "up-tempo" passing game and almost won with the offense they should have started the game with. That was quite an opportunity missed. And I can't help but notice how tight games that stay locked down in the regular season suddenly are turned into coin flips when the Seahawks defense is facing a polished, coherent offense captained by an top shelf QB. Drew Brees, say, or a Matt Ryan. A coin flip.
The real problem with the 2014 Seahawks offense is not the awesome Marshawn Lynch. It isn't the young Quarterback. It is Bevell and his worthless passing offense, which can be summed up by pointing to his brain dead wide receiver bubble screens. Look, I remember the brief popularity of the wide receiver bubble screen in the NFL - the DB's would play back, usually after one of the 3 wide receivers would get loose on a prior play on the same set, and the QB would snicker and pitch it over. It was kind of a short lived thing. Not only did Darrell Bevell not get the memo, he uses it WITHOUT setting it up by using the formation for anything other than the "screen".
It is a pattern of Bevell's offense to be thoughtless and disjointed. This was evident all of 2011. In 2012, he found a flow with the read option coupled with a confident QB and seemed to turn the corner. In 2013, Bevell has regressed, and his painful 8 man fronts (run or naked bootleg - not hard for a good defense to diagnose - see, Arizona game, failure to punch it in,) or 4 wide receiver sets (haven't seen a run out of it yet), the aforementioned bubble screen, and the brain-dead run-to-set-up-the-pass that starts EVERY GAME. These are all wasted plays - and nobody can waste plays, but having a defense serve up turnovers like nobody else sure masks this deficiency
Why not use the play action on the first play, first down? Defenses are ALREADY expecting the run with the Seahawks this year! It won't happen, because Bevell isn't that creative. He gets his play calls out of a book.
As a Seahawks fan, I can't erase the Mike Holmgren era from my brain. I'm not pining for the return of Big Show. I like Carroll better as a head coach. It just shocks me that an optimist such as Carroll has an offensive philosophy which is based on several negative propositions. Run, to keep scoring down. Passing is risky and leads to turnovers. (True - it also leads to points.) Rely on the defense. (Why not rely on both? Why not rack up points with the offense and then turn it over to the defense and the run game?)
In 2005 Shaun Alexander scored 28 touchdowns (27 rushing), and often these came out of a 2 or 3 wide receiver set, almost always a tight end was in play in the passing game (except when run-blocking). In other words, Holmgren had a philosophy which did not take offensive success in the passing game to be a negative thing. He gave his QB multiple options on every play, and didn't hang him out to dry. Matt Hasselbeck didn't freelance like Russell Wilson - and he didn't need to, with strong, interconnected schemes and good playcalls. The paradox is, with the offensive balance came success in the run game that the current incarnation of the Seahawks can't touch.
The 2005 Seahawks offense had teams on their heels. This was an offense where formations didn't tip plays, because the run and the pass came out of the same or similar formations! (Not rocket science. When playing rock paper scissors, don't keep mumbling "rock good").
The 2013 Seahawks offense isn't fooling anyone. Formations tip plays. Whole sequences follow the same pattern. It isn't converting on third down. It is missing scoring opportunities. And Wilson is starting to tighten up. He probably thinks the lack of success in the passing game is his fault. So he holds on to the ball too long, and then misses easy throws. Wilson isn't the problem. His OC is the problem, and Carroll doesn't see it yet.
Nobody can tell me that the Seahawks can't have a good, balanced offense similar to what the Seahawks had in 2005, because of some backwards defense centric "philosophy." I seen what I seen with my eyes. Russell Wilson can do something similar to Hasselbeck, Lynch can do something similar to Alexander, not exactly the same, probably not as good, just not inept. Russell Wilson and Lynch have TALENT. The offensive line is good. The wide receivers are good enough. Turns out Seahawks do miss Sydney Rice. But overall, good enough to be better than the 26th ranked passing team.
If we just expect our QB to throw for 16 times for 180 yards, let's trade Russell Wilson for picks. After all, Tarvaris Jackson is on the squad.
Nobody wants to see that.
Every 15 or 20 years, a team wins the super bowl on the strength of an incredible defense. If they Seahawks win out this year, that will be the storyline. Carroll's defense is a jewel, they are capable. It just feels like two coin flips are required to make it happen.
It doesn't need to be so hard. Hitting the league average for passing yards would seem to be a good start, and well within the capabilities of the quarterback we saw running the team in the 2012 season.
Russell Wilson. He can pass. Let it be so. Go Hawks.