Category Archives: X’s & O’s

More unfamiliar faces, but Carroll knows this AIR-izona offense

at-arizona-logoThe Seahawks have been fighting in a dark alley so far this season — feeling their way against unfamiliar foes.

First it was new Cincinnati coach Zac Taylor, who brought schemes Pete Carroll and his staff were not ready for and nearly beat the Hawks with them. Then it was Mason Rudolph, who replaced injured Ben Roethlisberger in Pittsburgh and almost rallied the Steelers. Last week, it was Teddy Bridgewater replacing injured Drew Brees and Alvin Kamara breaking tackles and leading the Saints to a surprisingly easy win.

Now Seattle faces another unfamiliar coach and QB as the Hawks head to dreaded Glendale to take on Kliff Kingsbury and Kyler Murray’s AIR-izona Raid offense.

Carroll knows plenty about the Air Raid, though — since it is just an offshoot of the old run-n-shoot. The difference is the mobile young quarterback running it, and the Hawks need to join the other defenses that have made it hard on this year’s No. 1 draft pick.

Continue reading More unfamiliar faces, but Carroll knows this AIR-izona offense

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As two-QB Saints march in, how about a double quads formation?

Logo -- New OrleansAs the Saints come to town with Drew Brees sidelined, they still have Teddy Bridgewater and multi-tool quarterback Taysom Hill, and coach Sean Payton smartly is not letting on about how he is going to use them.

As Pete Carroll said, “I don’t know what Sean is going to do. Rarely does anybody know what he’s going to do when it comes to game time.”

In his two-plus seasons with the Saints, Hill has played all over the place: QB, tight end, receiver, running back, special teams. He’s a wild card the Seahawks will have to watch out for. But how much QB will he play?

“We have not seen enough of Hill to know how they would play him in this kind of situation,” Carroll said. “He’s been spotted in and out and they’ve done a lot of cool things.”

The visit by Hill and the Saints brings up a concept we have long wondered about: What could a two-QB offense do in the NFL? Not two rotating QBs, but two on the field together for most of the game.

Continue reading As two-QB Saints march in, how about a double quads formation?

Can Hawks end rocky road streak?

Logo -- At PittsburghAs good as Pete Carroll’s Seahawks have been at home in September (15-0 after the ugly win over Cincinnati last week), they have been inversely successful on the road.

They are 3-13 on the road in the first month, 1-11 in the first two weeks and 1-8 in the first road game each season under Carroll.

If the Seahawks are going to end a five-year losing streak in road openers and win for the first time since their championship season, they are going to need to do well early in the 10 a.m. PT start in Pittsburgh.

Continue reading Can Hawks end rocky road streak?

Outcoached again, Carroll needs to get his team up to speed fast

Logo -- CincinnatiWe all should be used to this Seahawks fact by now: Pete Carroll plays a conservative (i.e., ugly) brand of football that almost always leads to slow starts.

So why does Seattle always look so bad on offense early in the season? Why does the offensive line start so poorly? Why is the play-calling such a mess?

It really boils down to this: Carroll plays simple football, relying heavily on players to execute relatively basic concepts, while some other coaches use more complex schemes to help their players succeed.

Continue reading Outcoached again, Carroll needs to get his team up to speed fast

Hawks will keep running, but will Wilson & Schotty be better?

Logo -- CincinnatiAs the Seahawks open the season, one of the major points to watch will be the evolution of Russell Wilson and a fully Baldwin-less offense in Year 2 under Brian Schottenheimer.

The Seahawks put a lot of resources (financial and draft) into their passing game in the offseason, which led some to suggest (or hope) they are now building entirely around Wilson and are going to throw the ball all over the yard.

Clearly, people who think Carroll is going to sway from his run-focused approach are dreaming — and not really paying attention. Remember, Carroll is all about that circle of toughness — imposing his will on both sides of the ball.

As Carroll recently told 710 ESPN: “We want to play off the running game. … We want to run the heck out of the football. We love that part of the game, but we love everything that comes off that.

“We hopefully are going to show you a wide-open attack that makes you have to defend the run and makes you have to defend Russell sitting back there bombing footballs. We want to get the ball down the field and attack the heck out of it. That’s a big deal to us.

Continue reading Hawks will keep running, but will Wilson & Schotty be better?

‘How do we work these guys together?’

Logo -- CincinnatiNow that John Schneider has repeated his 2013 defensive line coup, the question becomes: How long will it take Pete Carroll, Ken Norton and company to get this collection of linemen playing to its best capabilities?

Schneider told 710 ESPN that Seattle’s front seven, including a trio of “phenomenal blitzers” at linebacker, is “a really cool group. (Coaches are) putting it together right now: How do we work these guys together?”

For a sampling, we merely need go back to 2013, the last time Schneider brought in two impact pass rushers at the same time.

Continue reading ‘How do we work these guys together?’

Hawks failed Glowinski & still need guards

Cable and CarrollPete Carroll and John Schneider have to be kicking themselves over how badly they screwed up with Mark Glowinski, who has to be just as happy that they released him from Tom Cable’s broken system in 2017 so he could get his career going in the right direction.

The guard was a good pick by Seattle in the fourth round in 2015, coming off an excellent college career at West Virginia, and he should have become one of Seattle’s line mainstays. Instead, Carroll and Schneider let him go in 2017 and he turned into one of the Indianapolis Colts’ best linemen in 2018, earning a contract worth $6 million a year.

Glowinski is the latest — maybe the greatest — example of how Cable’s system held players back in Seattle.

Continue reading Hawks failed Glowinski & still need guards

Coaches talk third-down failure, but it starts on first two downs

seahawks-cowboys logoThird downs get such a bum rap.

One of these days, we hope, Pete Carroll and his coaches will realize third-down success starts on first down. They never seem to get that, constantly droning on after losses about how third downs ruined their offense.

It was more of the same after the 24-22 playoff loss to Dallas, with Carroll telling anyone who would listen that their failure on 11 of 13 third downs was what did them in — as opposed to any play-calling mistakes on the preceding downs.

Brian Schottenheimer continued the refrain Thursday, telling 710 ESPN: “The biggest issue that we had — and it was kind of the issue for us throughout the course of the year when we struggled – was third down. We weren’t able to convert on third downs. We weren’t able to get momentum going. We’re kind of an offense, because we run the ball and we throw the deep play passes, that when you’re struggling on third down it kind of hurts your ability to get started.”

It’s true the Hawks put themselves in big holes on third down; they averaged third-and-8 and went three-and-out six times in 12 possessions.

But how do you get into trouble on third down? How do you get into a spot that is too challenging to overcome? By messing up on first and second downs. And the Seattle offense finished the season just as poorly as it started it.

Continue reading Coaches talk third-down failure, but it starts on first two downs

Wilson needs to throw to his receivers more

Logo -- At San FranciscoIf Russell Wilson had found his receivers more often against the 49ers, the Seahawks quite probably would have won — despite all of the other errors by players and refs in the game.

A lot has been made all season of Seattle’s renewed running game and the magic 50 number (completions plus rushes), but the X factor really has been Wilson’s targets.

Including the loss to the 49ers, Seattle has lost four games despite big rushing days and is just 7-4 when hitting the magic number, so those stats obviously have not fully predicted results.

But Wilson’s targets have: Seattle is 0-5 when under 50 percent of his throws go to his wide receivers, 8-1 when over half go to the wideouts.

Continue reading Wilson needs to throw to his receivers more

Hawks need a complete game from offense

Logo -- Los AngelesAs good as the Seahawks’ defense has been over the first month, it is about to face its biggest test of the season — and that means Seattle’s offense is going to have to be a lot better than it has been if it is going to win a shootout.

Seattle ranks seventh in overall defense, fifth against the pass and sixth in takeaways — rankings built against some of the league’s poorer offenses. Now, without Earl Thomas, they go up against a Rams unit that ranks first overall and second in passing and scoring.

It’s the ideal time for Russell Wilson and company to find themselves.

Under Brian Schottenheimer, the offense still is having trouble figuring out what it wants to be when it grows up.

Continue reading Hawks need a complete game from offense