Thanks for all your great questions! Keep ‘em coming!
Today, I’m going to answer Paul’s and Ron’s questions about the running game.
Hi- I’m a long time Seahawks fan living in Thailand but from Washington state. I grew up listening to (and watching) Tony Ventrella’s coverage of sports in the Northwest, I really enjoy your work, Tony, thanks for the years of dedication and hard work! Well, I’m sure we’re all eager to get last season behind us, but I have a question about the Seahawks running scheme–
What would you expect to see differently in the offense (most specifically the running game) under Knapp this year, as opposed to the past 2 years under Holmgren?
I’m not sure if you can clarify it for us until we see it in action but it would be nice to know what to expect when the Seahawks hit the field this year, and how we can expect the running game (schemes/styles/ techniques) this year to be different than the past few.
I liked Justin Forsett a lot during the preseason last year, but Coach Holmgren didn’t utilize him much except on punt returns. I read in your blog that they intend to use him more in the running game. I think he can be just as effective as Ricky Proehl of San Diego or the other sawed-off back they have at Jacksonville. I was disappointed that after such a great preseason last year they didn’t utilize him more. Does Coach Mora plan to utilize him more than just occasional trick plays?
Paul and Ron,
“One cut and go.” That is the mantra of the run game this year under Coach Knapp. This means that you’re not going to see the running backs doing any dancing or making multiple cuts; rather, they’re going to predict where the offensive line is going to make a hole for them, cut into the hole, and run hard.
There are a few reasons why the players and coaches (and I!) are optimistic about this approach. First, the zone blocking scheme that the offensive linemen are working so hard to perfect will create these momentary gaps or wrinkles for the running backs to find. Since they’re not going to be power blocking, everyone on the offense from the linemen to the quarterback is going to be lighter on his feet and more mobile. The fact that the linemen won’t be stagnant will be really helpful for the running game. Second, look at the unbelievable receiving corps the Seahawks have right now. Houshmandzadeh, Burleson, Branch, Butler, and a bunch of others—Michel Bumpus, Jordan Kent, Courtney Taylor, Logan Payne, Mike Hass—are great targets. Every one of them has to be accounted for on every play, that will open up room and lanes for the run game. Third, Greg Knapp’s running games have been some of the best in the NFL in the last few years. He knows how to take the ground attack to the next level, and he’s excited about the weapons he has to work with here in Seattle—which brings me to my last point…
The Seahawks’ running backs corps has the potential to be one of the finest in the league. Julius Jones will get the majority of the carries. Being the kind of back who benefits from getting into a rhythm over the course of a game, he’ll thrive being the no. 1 back. TJ Duckett will come in as a pound-them-hard-and-knock-them-down kind of back. He’s big and strong enough to dominate defenses with his brute force, but is also agile enough on his feet to comply with Coach Knapp’s “one cut and go” philosophy.
Coach Mora is quick to remind inquirers of the running situation that they also have Justin Forsett. Mora believes Forsett is a special player, and I believe he’s right. When Julius is winded, I’m tempted to think that Forsett will be a go-to player. While he may not yet be a starter, he certainly has the talent and drive to be so somewhere down the line. I’m sure those of you who have been out to practice have enjoyed watching him; he is explosive and quick, and somehow, even when pileups occur, #20 is always running out the backside towards the endzone. He may still play some special teams, but I think you’re going to see an expanded role for him on offense this year.
PS—Tony Ventrella is one wild dude, huh?