The post-practice topic was the state of the Seahawks’ offense, but the responses dealt with building a house and going to the driving range.
Say what? That’s how it goes when you’re installing a new system, as coordinator Jeremy Bates is. While pleased with the development through two minicamps and nine OTA practices, Bates and his players know the real proof of progress will come when training camp practices begin in late July.
“If you look at this as building a house, what we’re doing right now is coming up with the blueprint,” Bates said Thursday. “We won’t break out the nails and really start to hammer away until we get the pads on.”
That’s also when the coaches and players will get around to using all the clubs in their bag.
“There’s a lot of evaluating going on,” quarterback
“They’re trying to see who we’ve got, talent-wise, and also what everyone does well.”
That definitely is the case for Bates and his fellow offensive assistants – line coaches Alex Gibbs and Art Valero, running backs coach Sherman Smith, wide receivers coach Kippy Brown, tight ends coach Pat McPherson and Fisch.
“Right now, it’s just a process of getting reps and doing it over and over, and practicing against different looks and different coverages,” Bates said. “I’m extremely happy about how the guys are studying and how they’re grasping it mentally and taking it to the practice field.”
That might be the most impressive element of the ongoing installation: How few mental errors are being committed, despite the constant influx of new players and the fact that the old players are learning a new system.
“The football IQ on the team is incredible,” Bates said. “They really look forward to coming to meetings and then taking it out here. There aren’t many mental mistakes. But we’ve got to keep growing and working on the fundamentals of the game.”
It’s not like they have a difficult act to follow. Last season, the offense scored 27 touchdowns – the fewest since 1993 (26) – and tallied more than 20 points in only four games. The Seahawks ranked 26th in rushing offense and 21st overall.
That’s why there have been so many changes this offseason. Hasselbeck and right tackle
“We’re sort of like building our brand of who we are, and at the same time installing plays,” Hasselbeck said. “Half of it’s a mentality, and half of it is X’s and O’s.”
Here’s a closer look at how the offense is coming together in its blueprint, driving-range stage:
Quarterback – When Pete Carroll was hired in January as the eight head coach in franchise history, he expressed how pleased he was to have Hasselbeck to help with the transition. Bates echoed that sentiment when he was hired. Despite the additions of
“Matt has done an unbelievable job taking ownership of the offense,” Bates said. “He’s rallying the troops. He’s excited every day. He knows so much about the game.
“It’s fun watching him. He’s very crafty. He can make all the throws, from all different positions. His timing is unbelievable.”
Running back – With Carroll, it’s always been a case of the more backs the better. He prefers to have as many options as necessary, and to use the competition between those backs to bring out the best in each.
The group currently includes incumbent starter
Waiting in the wings is
“I can’t wait to get Leon out here,” Bates said.
Wide receiver –
“As an offense, we’re exciting about T.J. and Deion coming back,” Bates said. “But it’s going to be new. Matt needs to get timing with these guys because the offense is different.”
Tight end – As impressive as
“We’re definitely trying to throw more on John – make him the primary receiver on a lot of routes,” Hasselbeck said.
“John is fun, because he’s very flexible,” Bates said. “You can put him in the backfield, you can put him out wide, you can put him in the three-point (stance), and you don’t miss a beat. And having Baker frees him up a little more. It’s a good combination.”
Bates then mentioned incumbent No. 3 tight end
Line – The starters appear to set, with first-round draft choice
“The guys are working great together,” Bates said. “They’re communicating. They’re getting into the zone (blocking) offense with Alex – and Alex is all over them, riding them. And they’re responding. They’re taking the challenge.”
They also have experienced backups in
“It’s going to be fun to watch those guys,” Bates of the starting unit. “Because we can only go as far as they take us.”
As good as things have looked while practicing in shorts, Bates knows the real test comes when the pads come on in training camp and especially the preseason games.
“We’re heading in the right direction,” Bates said. “We just can’t ever take a day off. We just got to keep grinding.”