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Offense Versus Defense and the Seahawks Future

Pete has work to do.
Pete has work to do.

Bill Walsh believed you could scheme an offense to greatness. Walsh could. The defense needed talent, no way around it. Since Walsh's time though, defenses have become ever more complex. Every team in the NFL has some kind of wrinkle, a formation from which to execute ever more elaborate zone blitzes: The Bandit, Stampede, Psycho, etc. Coordinators like Dick Lebeau, Dom Capers and the late Jim Johnson created schemes that seemed to transcend individual talent. Perhaps the NFL Walsh knew is no more.

The Seahawks desperately need to improve on defense. It seems like Gus Bradley is here to stay. I will go ahead and say I am ambivalent about that, and leave it at that for now. To most fans, improving the defense means: more and better talent. And after moving out much of what little talent had developed the past few seasons, it is true that the well was dry in Seattle. I give Bradley that. Johnson's defense didn't work in his first year with Philadelphia. Lebeau's defense only worked sporadically in his years with Cincinnati. Maybe Bradley just isn't there yet. Maybe he needs the horses to make his Bandit defense work.

The push to improve Seattle's talent on defense ignores something rather significant though: offensive performance is more consistent year to year than defensive performance and top offenses are better than top defenses. The latter is news to me but not surprising. The push to improve Seattle's talent on defense ignores that Seattle's offense was almost equally as bad.

The Seahawks defense is old and rather talent thin. The offense seems comparatively more talented and is definitely younger. But if it is more talented, it didn't show it, and unless something significant was holding that talent back, be it coaching or Matt Hasselbeck, we shouldn't be expected to perform significantly better in 2011. For most of the season, Seattle's defense greatly outperformed Seattle's offense. Maybe opinion is shaped by the offense performing better late in the season while the defense was collapsing, but that doesn't forecast much going forward. Any number of reasons can explain the shift, including health.

So I am surveying for opinions: should Seattle concentrate resources in its defense? Pete Carroll is a defensive minded coach, though some would argue that gives him a better chance of succeeding without great talent because of coaching and scheme. Should Seattle concentrate its resources on offense? And what does that mean exactly? Between Williams, Obomanu, Tate, Carlson, Morrah, McCoy, Baker, Lynch and Forsett, Seattle is fairly settled at its skill positions. Does it mean going all out to find a quarterback? Does it mean going all out to build the offensive line?

Subjectively, the defense seems in greater need of talent, but objectively the offense is more likely to be the foundation of a great team. Inevitably, for Seattle to be a great team, both offense and defense must improve. But which is the focus? Which is improved first?