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Getting to Know Future Head Coach James Lawrence Mora

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This post has a simple premise: Is Jim Lawrence Mora a good head coach?

Playoffs Jr got of on the wrong foot with me. I sorely dislike nepotism, so much so, in fact, that I'll admit to a touch of prejudice. That is, I assumed Mora was a bad coach without exploring the question very well. That's stupid, of course, so let's give Mora a fair trial. Let's begin with Playoffs Jr's exit from the ATL.

Mora was fired after a 7-9 season by the Atlanta Falcons. Mora fired himself with one of the more boneheaded (or prescient and clever) interviews in sports radio history - and a distinguished history it is. Of the on-field reasons most cited for Mora's firing, the failure to develop Michael Vick into a truly great quarterback is paramount. In light of Vick's event-filled non-football life, another more obvious reason for his failed development might be surmised: Vick never had the will to be the best, spent his offseason engaged in everything but becoming a better quarterback, and probably never had the ability to be much of a passer anyhow. Still, Mora deserves some discredit for that and for never reigning in Vick, who it is now clear, has been a felon to be for most of his time in the NFL. I wouldn't trust Mora with a more disorderly or recalcitrant bunch of players, but on a Tim Ruskell designed roster, a disciplinarian coach is something more harmful than redundant. We'll call this a push.

Sticking with his time w/ the Dirty Birds, lets use an old baseball standard to determine if Mora was a good coach: Consistent outperforming of a team's estimated wins. We'll use Football Outsiders' model.

2004
Estimated Wins: 8
Actual: 11
+3

2005
Estimated: 7.9
Actual: 8
+.01

2006
Estimated: 7.4
Actual: 7
-0.4

One good season and two that don't mean much. For shits and giggles:

2003 (Reeves/Philips minus Vick)
Estimated: 5.5
Actual: 5
-0.5

2007 (Petrino/Thomas minus Vick)
Estimated: 5.5
Actual: 4
-1.5

Nothing much to conclude, except that Playoffs Jr was either very good or very lucky in 2004. Mora is a defense first coach, something that once was a bit of a red flag, being that offense is considerably more consistent in the NFL and that defense first coaches often concentrate on building a formidable D while neglecting the O. A team, to an extent, can luck into a serviceable defense, but that's not true with offense. But recent years have seen that truism reverse as defense first coaches have risen to prominence. The reason, as best as I can tell, is that defense is more about effort, while offense is more about inherent skill. A coach can, therefore, more easily "coach up" a linebacker than a wide receiver.

As I've previously mentioned, Mora is a status quo hire. He's a West Coast adherent offensively and attained his first defensive coordinator job by succeeding John Marshall in San Francisco. Except for a maddening reluctance to employing a running back committee, there is nothing wrong with the current coaching staff's scheme, or overall strategy. Therefore, a big, headline grabbing overhaul hardly seems necessary. If a downside exists, it's that once Mora does take over in full, Seattle will be without an offensive mastermind to target value picks in the draft and free agency. Still, unheralded quarterbacks guru Jim Zorn developed both Brad Johnson and Matt Hasselbeck, so the cupboards are by no means bare.