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Brian Schottenheimer unapologetic over Seahawks’ oft-scrutinized run-first offense

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NFL: Arizona Cardinals at Seattle Seahawks Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports

If you were hoping that Seattle Seahawks offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer would say something at Tuesday’s OTAs about how Seattle’s offense would not be the run-first team that we saw in 2018... I have some bad news.

Schottenheimer doubled down on the Seahawks’ offensive philosophy, which was particularly subject to heavy criticism following the team’s playoff loss to the Dallas Cowboys. If you’re Pro-Analytics, you can either stop reading now or just have a curious look at the next couple of paragraphs.

“We make no apologies for how we play,’’ Schottenheimer said (via Seattle Times). “We want to run the football. We want to be physical. We want to take our shots.’’

“[Running the ball well] is always going to be the objective for us. I think we are the best play (action) pass team in the league, I really do. [Russell Wilson’s] ability to throw the ball deep down the field was evident last year.’’

Now in fairness to Schottenheimer, the Seahawks really were excellent on deep passes last season. They finished 9th in DVOA and 6th in both pass and rush DVOA, a significant improvement from the 2017 squad that spelled the end of Darrell Bevell’s tenure as Seahawks OC. For the faults of the “establish the run” gameplan, Seattle’s offense was really damn good even after a very dodgy September start.

That said, there were some pretty glaring and damning flaws. They objectively did not play well against the top defenses, had the third-worst rate of three-and-outs, and were particularly poor on third-downs. If you thought the Seahawks relied a lot on “run-run-pass,” well that’s because they did. And there’s also no conclusive evidence that you need a strong rushing attack to make play-action passing more effective. Seattle’s offense was remarkably predictable and as we saw in the loss against the Cowboys, it is an absolutely damaging system when it doesn’t work and the coaching staff isn’t willing to adjust.

The NFL is undeniably a passing league and there’s absolutely no chance that ever corrects back to “balance” or favoring the run. Seattle has long preferred to buck that trend under Pete Carroll. Schottenheimer is implementing exactly what Carroll wants, whether or not it’s necessarily best for maximizing the talents of the Seahawks offense — really we’re specifically talking about making the best use out of Russell Wilson.

Are we making too much out of some short snippet for a June press conference? Perhaps, but don’t be shocked if this offense operates in similar fashion to last year.