With the Seattle Seahawks hiring Mike Solari as their offensive line coach, Brian Schottenheimer as their offensive coordinator, and Ken Norton Jr. as their defensive coordinator, I wanted to take a look at the possible schemes that these coaches could bring to Seattle. I already looked at Solari (here) and Norton Jr. (here), so in this article I wanted to look at Schottenheimer’s running game, while in a follow-up article I will break down his passing attack.
Schottenheimer has been coaching in the NFL since 1997. He started his career as an assistant for the St. Louis Rams and then worked for nine different college and NFL teams before becoming the Seahawks’ offensive coordinator this season. Here are a few of his major career stops:
- San Diego Chargers’ QB Coach from 2002-2005
- New York Jets’ Offensive Coordinator from 2006-2011
- St. Louis Rams’ Offensive Coordinator from 2012-2014
- University of Georgia OC and QB Coach for 2015
- Indianapolis Colts’ QB Coach from 2016-2017
During his career, he’s worked with a few well known quarterbacks: Drew Brees, Sam Bradford, Mark Sanchez, and Andrew Luck. Kenneth Arthur did a great breakdown on each of these teams in greater detail, so make sure you check that out if you want more background information.
Brian Schottenheimer’s Rankings
Here are his rankings when he was the offensive coordinator of the New York Jets pulled from FootballOutsiders.com.
Here are the rankings when he was the offensive coordinator for the St. Louis Rams as well.
For both of these teams, he actually came in when the team was ranked close to last and at least made them average. Talent was definitely an issue, it always is when you have a last ranked unit, but I am optimistic that he’ll be able to help Seattle.
For comparative purposes, here are the Seahawks over the last five seasons.
Seahawks’ Run Game under Darrell Bevell and Tom Cable
Over the last seven seasons, Tom Cable was the offensive line coach and run coordinator. Under his lead, the team primarily ran zone blocking concepts. Inside zone was one of their most utilized play while outside zone out of Singleback or I-formation was used as well. Out of Shotgun, the team also used zone read-option concepts with Russell Wilson as well. In terms of power concepts, Cable ran them less than 20 times during the entire 2017 season. It was not a big part of the offensive plans and I don’t truthfully see it becoming a huge part of this offense as well.
Seahawks’ Run Game under Brian Schottenheimer
Looking over Schottenheimer’s time with the St. Louis Rams, he primarily ran a zone stretch offense. He used outside zone and occasionally crack tosses to get the running back to the edge. Additionally, he paired jet sweep action with a wide receiver like Tavon Austin to help move the linebackers. I can see zone stretch with Tyler Lockett as a misdirection element becoming a bigger part of the Seahawks’ game plans next season.
After the linebackers started moving, he loved using inside zone with a sift blocker to blast open cutback lanes. He rarely used the backside offensive tackle as the kick-out blocker and preferred a tight end or full back to create the angles. Both of these running concepts were used with Singleback with one running back and two running backs, so I will be very interested to see if he keeps Tre Madden next season or signs somebody else.
After Brian Shottenheimer used outside zone with jet sweep action, he would use inside zone to create cutback lanes. Loved using his TEs as sift blockers to open holes rather than using the backside tackle. #Seahawks pic.twitter.com/vylwV8ccWQ— Samuel Gold (@SamuelRGold) January 29, 2018
The NFL, over the last five years, has slowly gone away from using fullbacks but they definitely have their uses. When Tre Madden got injured this season, Luke Willson actually played as a fullback and I actually liked him in this occasional role. It would also free a spot on the roster, so that could be considered in the future. In my opinion, two-back running sets were an obvious point of weakness for this team, so they will need to improve next season for him to call them regularly.
After Schottenheimer started getting the offensive line flowing with these zone running plays, he used this “power lead” play to try and set up an interior path for his running back. He called this two to three times a game and it was very effective. I really like the combination block between the tight end and the left tackle. They down block and this helps set up a hole for the backside guard to pull through.
He didn't run that much out of shotgun actually. Preferred singleback and I-formation (sometimes with two backs). I think that will change with the #Seahawks with Russell Wilson. pic.twitter.com/41jL8x96KC— Samuel Gold (@SamuelRGold) January 29, 2018
Another play he used occasionally was this three-tech trap. It punishes a penetrating defensive tackle and opens a running lane. As a side note, this play was ran out of Shotgun which the Rams didn’t really run that much in 2014. Maybe it was a personnel decision, but the Seahawks were a lot more effective in this formation due to the presence of Russell Wilson. I can see him adapting and using that to his advantage as long as he and Mike Solari get the offensive line to be more effective.
Based on these clips, there should be some obvious similarities between Cable and Schottenheimer’s running game. However, there are some differences.
Schottenheimer is much more traditional with his use of zone stretch runs to set up his inside running game. Cable, on the other hand, pretty much relied on the presence of Russell Wilson and used a lot of designed line blocking to create backside misdirection. Personally, I am a traditionalist when it comes to zone blocking and actually prefer Schottenheimer’s version over Cable’s.
Jumping back to Schottenheimer’s time with the New York Jets, he seemed to mix zone blocking concepts with gap style concepts as well. Unfortunately, the All-22 tape is unavailable past 2012, so I couldn’t track his tendencies any further. In my opinion, and even though the Jets were a more successful running team as evidenced by their DVOA, I personally prefer the 2014 Rams zone scheme over the mixed style of the 2010 Jets. I think the way the offense is structured and the concepts they are already successful at could be paired to that pretty seamlessly. Also, the Jets’ offensive line featured guys like D’Brickashaw Ferguson and Nick Mangold in their primes so that could definitely influence those numbers.
If I had to put money on what scheme the Seahawks are going to run on opening day, I would guess the 2014 Rams’ tape will be similar to what we’ll see.