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Monday, June 18, 2007

Seattle Seahawks / Holmgren To Intall Offense Pre-Shift System

"Pre-shifting", or what was called "The Multiple Offense" is being installed by Settle Seahawk's coach Mike Holmgren for the 2008 season. This was reported and buried deep in an article on the Seattle Defense, and which appears below. But in my view, the writer missed the real story.

The strategy has been around since the turn of the 20th Century, but was used as a standard strategy by Dallas Cowboys Coach, the late Tom Landry during his 30-years as head coach. The idea is simply to have the offense "shirt" or move from one formation to the other before the ball is snapped. But the only West Coast / Walsh Offense team to use this until now has been the Tampa Bay Bucs under Jon Gruden.

There' a balance that has to be established between shifting and reading keys after the snap.


Hawks' defense eager to step up for second Super Bowl run

KIRKLAND -- It has been a defensive offseason for the Seahawks.

In the wake of the disappointment that was failing to defend their NFC championship in January, the club signed defensive end Patrick Kerney and safeties Deon Grant and Brian Russell as free agents in March.

April brought the NFL draft, which delivered cornerback Josh Wilson, defensive tackle Brandon Mebane and defensive end Baraka Atkins.

During the post-draft minicamp in May and June minicamp, these players helped lead a surge of rejuvenation that at times confused and stifled the Seahawks offense -- the team's signature unit since coach Mike Holmgren arrived in 1999.

The events of the past 3 1/2 months have been enough to foster the notion that if the defense can rank among the NFL's top 10, the Seahawks have a chance to return to the Super Bowl for the second time in three seasons.

Top 10? Why stop there, says the smile that washes across the face of Pro Bowl linebacker Julian Peterson.

"Seattle is known for its offense, but we want to eventually make it so the defense is what holds the team together," Peterson said Thursday after the team's final minicamp practice. "That's what we're striving to be -- we want to be one of the top five defenses in the league. We have the talent to do that."

Now that is saying something.

The Seahawks have not finished among the top 10 in defense since 1997, and have done it only three times in the past 15 seasons. They were 19th last season -- down from No. 16 during their Super Bowl run in 2005 -- when a seemingly endless avalanche of deep pass plays and long runs doomed the Seahawks to mediocrity, and too often came in critical situations.

"We were OK, at times, but not nearly consistent enough," Holmgren said. "They have a real chance to be better, and we have to be. It's a huge challenge."

Said Peterson, "We're just going to hold up our end on the defense and let the offense continue to do what they do."

But all this concentration on the defense might be masking the real key to the team's success in 2007 -- that offense, which is another year older and replacing several more pieces of the cohesive unit that used to be among the most productive in the league.

During the two-minute drill that ended Thursday's practice, a fiery Holmgren admonished his No. 1 unit after an unblocked defensive lineman was allowed a clear path to quarterback Matt Hasselbeck. On the very next play, fill-in center Pat Ross and Hasselbeck botched the center exchange.

Holmgren gave the first unit another chance, only to have another fumbled snap.

It is asking too much for this up-tempo offense to function as efficiently in June -- or even early September -- as it always seems to by season's end. Especially since Pro Bowl left tackle Walter Jones and leading rusher Shaun Alexander were absent Thursday, when starting center Chris Spencer also saw his first, though limited, contact of the offseason after having postseason shoulder surgery.

But is it expecting too much to just get the ball into Hasselbeck's hands?

The offense worked extensively during this minicamp on pre-snap movement, which is designed to throw new wrinkles at defenses this season and also hold the attention of veteran players and coaches.

"If I find myself kind of standing at practice and going, 'Oh boy, if I have to look at that play one more time I'm going to faint,' then I know it's kind of time to throw in some new stuff," Holmgren said.

"It's healthy to stimulate the veterans that we have and get them thinking, so it's not just business as usual," he said. "And adding things to our repertoire is healthy, as long as it helps us."

Wrinkles aside, the offense that takes the field when training camp practices begin July 28 will not be the same seamless unit that led the Seahawks to three consecutive NFC West titles.

Spencer, left guard Rob Sims and a yet-to-be-determined right guard will man the interior of the line -- Spencer as a full-time replacement for the retired Robbie Tobeck and Sims as the latest option to try to make everyone forget about Steve Hutchinson's departure in free agency last offseason.

Deion Branch has moved to the flanker spot that opened when leading receiver Darrell Jackson was traded to the San Francisco 49ers during the draft. D.J. Hackett will replace Branch as the split end. Marcus Pollard and his 35-year-old body will try to supply what Jerramy Stevens couldn't -- consistent production from the tight end spot.

Regardless of the system and its past success, that is a lot of turnover for one offseason.

The suddenly defensive-minded Seahawks just can't allow it to create turmoil.

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