The Seahawks offense did a lot of things well in 2018, from leading the NFL in rushing (160.0 yards per game), to scoring 26.8 points per game, tied for sixth most in the league and the third highest total in franchise history, to improving that average to 30.0 points per game in the second half of the season, the third best mark in the NFL, to committing a league-low 11 turnovers. But for all that went well for Seattle's offense last year, the expectation is that the Seahawks should be even better on that side of the ball in 2019 as they head into their second season under offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer and offensive line coach Mike Solari, who were both hired during the 2018 offseason.
Following the Seahawks' eighth practice of organized team activities, Schottenheimer met with the media and talked about his offense and what he hopes to see in 2019. Here are six things we learned from Schottenheimer's press conference.
1. The offense will again focus on balance, but is "so much further ahead" of where it was last year.
The Seahawks were going through a learning period at this time last year thanks to some significant coaching changes, but with the offensive coaching staff for the most part unchanged this year, Schottenheimer notes that "it has been so nice to sit in meetings with Russ (Wilson) and watch cutups from last year. Last year we were just trying to put plays on paper and things like that this time of year. Now we're so much further ahead, and it's cool to see how quickly guys are picking things up."
As a result, Schottenheimer and head coach Pete Carroll expect the offensive to evolve and improve in some areas, but what won't change is Carroll's long-held belief that an offense should be balanced. And it's worth repeating that balance to Carroll doesn't mean a specific run/pass ratio, but rather the ability to succeed in a variety of ways if one element of the offense is struggling on any given Sunday. For example, Carroll and Schottenheimer both cited last year's win over Carolina as an example of Seattle's balance because on a day when Carolina did a good job stopping the run, limiting Seattle to just 75 rushing yards, the Seahawks were able to win in part because Russell Wilson threw for 339 yards and two touchdowns.
"We make no apologies for how we play," Schottenheimer said. "We want to run the football, we want to be physical, we're going to take our shots—I think that's evident by the production we had last year, all the points we put up. Russ had great numbers—he and Tyler having a perfect passer rating, that's hard to do. And we're always trying to evolve… Each game is different. You go into each game like, 'Hey, what gives us the best chance to win?' We feel like we can beat people however we need to beat them. A lot goes into each game, it's offense, it's defense, it's special teams, but we have no question in our minds that we can win however we have to win."
2. The offensive line leadership will help the entire offense.
With Doug Baldwin no longer on the team, the Seahawks offense lost not just a playmaker, but a leader, and while Tyler Lockett is ready to take on some of that leadership role in Baldwin's absence, Schottenheimer noted Tuesday that Seattle's veteran offensive line provides the type of leadership that will help the entire offense, not just that position group.
"As a whole, we have tremendous leaders on this team," Schottenheimer said. "You look at the offensive line—I've got to say in my 22 years coaching, I don't think I've been around a more vocal, veteran group than those guys. The addition of Mike Iupati along with Duane (Brown) and (D.J. Fluker), Justin Britt and Germain (Ifedi), it's fun to come to work with those guys."
3. Jaron Brown is having an "unbelievable" offseason and other thoughts on the receivers.
With Baldwin gone, the Seahawks will need multiple players to step up to fill the void in 2019. Lockett, who is coming off a phenomenal 2018 season, is the presumed top receiver, but beyond that the competition is wide open for playing time and for roster spots. Baldwin will undoubtedly be missed, but Schottenheimer is excited about what he has seen so far from Seattle's receivers, and in particular from Jaron Brown, a player he and Carroll have both noted was underutilized in 2018.
"A lot of talent, a lot of size—the size factor is definitely different than what we've been around here," Schottenheimer said. "… There's been a lot of guys in that room who've stepped up. Keenan Reynolds is having a great camp. Jaron Brown, he's not a young guy, but wow, talking about just an unbelievable camp, I mean, really stepping up. Those guys are growing, they're developing. It'll be fun to watch them.
"David Moore coming off of a good year last year—is exciting. Jaron Brown, I just mentioned him earlier, but he did so much of the dirty work for us last year that you kind of forgot that he's a really established receiver and he's looked dynamic out here. Of course, Tyler, monster year last year, he's going to lead the charge."
On Moore, Schottenheimer added, "He's so much more comfortable right now. Last year he was kind of a one position kind of guy. Now we're moving him all over the place. It's been cool to see those guys just take the next step."
4. Schottenheimer's thoughts on the backup quarterback competition.
The Seahawks signed two quarterbacks this offseason to compete for the backup job behind Wilson, former first-round pick Paxton Lynch and former New York Jets starter Geno Smith. While both went through a brief adjustment period, they have both impressed Schottenheimer so far this offseason.
"It has been fun to work with both of those guys, that's kind of my baby—I love developing quarterbacks, I love watching them," he said. "Paxton's got a bigtime live arm, he really does. For a big guy he's really quick and athletic. He picked up the system well. Geno hasn't been here nearly as long; he's got a lot of moxie about him, great huddle command, which is cool to see. I think the big thing for them is kind of learning what our standards are, what our expectations are in that room. The first day with Pax was kind of funny, because he came in—he was prepared, but he really wasn't to the standard that we wanted him to, so we got on him a little bit. But the next day he was buttoned up and ready to go. Same thing with Geno, Geno came in and—if you don't really know what to expect and how much we put on those guys, it's hard to know what's being expected of you. They've been terrific so far."
5. Rashaad Penny is making strides in his second season.
Rashaad Penny showed plenty of promise as a rookie, including a 108-yard performance in a Week 9 game at Los Angeles, but the 2018 first-round pick is showing signs of being a more mature player heading into his second season.
"It has been cool to watch Rashaad, watch him grow up, watch him mature, watch him learn to be a pro," Schottenheimer said. "I'm really pleased with the way he is attacking practice right now. Last year, he didn't know what he didn't know. Now he's got some leadership ability, he's getting a ton of reps because obviously Chris (Carson) is out. But it has been fun to watch him grow. The talent is there, we all know that, it's just him putting together consecutive days in a row, and I think he has done that the last couple of weeks. It has been cool to see him mature."
Penny also looks to be moving better and "looks slimmer," Schottenheimer said. ""He looks better, he's moving around better."
6. Jacob Hollister has been a "terrific acquisition" so far.
The Seahawks added tight end Jacob Hollister in a trade with New England earlier this offseason, and while it's still far too soon to know what kind of impact he'll make in 2019, he is making a good first impression on his coaches.
"Terrific acquisition, he has had a great camp," Schottenheimer said. "The speed element is awesome, really good route-runner. A lot like Tyler in terms of the instincts, just the ability to get open. He has a great feel for coverages, man and zone, things like that… He has been a great acquisition, he really has."
Photos from the Seattle Seahawks' eighth session of organized team activities held on Tuesday, June 4 at Renton's Virginia Mason Athletic Center.