With time running out in the first half of last week's season opener, the Seahawks went with their no-huddle offense, and the result was a 10-play, 58-yard drive that produced a field goal, Seattle's only offensive score in the half.
Looking for a spark, and also to help a young offensive line that's rhythm was, as offensive line coach Tom Cable put it, "really out of whack," the Seahawks kept using an up-tempo offense in the second half even when the clock didn't require it. The results were noticeable, with the Seahawks putting together three scoring drives, all of which featured at least some no-huddle offense.
That success, of course, will bring up the question of whether or not the Seahawks will go up-tempo more often going forward. The answer from Pete Carroll, as you might expect from a football coach not eager to give up too many secrets, is ambiguous.
"We're good at it, we've been good at our two minute stuff for a long time and we'll continue to work at it and mix it in when we think it's necessary," Carroll said.
Running a hurry-up offense seemingly goes against the nature of a defensive-minded coach who prefers a balanced offense, but he doesn't feel like up-tempo hurts his defense so long as the offense is making first downs.
"Putting the defense back on the field in a hurry, that doesn't happen if you make first downs and you move it and all that," he said. "So I don't think that's a consideration unless you're going three and out as fast as you can possibly go three and out. So that's not the consideration, it's just playing to the tempo that helps you get what you got to get done, done."
The benefits of speeding things up are pretty easy to see. If an offense isn't huddling, a defense can't substitute players, which can mean a tired defense, as well as an inability to bring in different personnel to play more exotic defenses.
"It puts a little more pressure on the defense," offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell said. "Sometimes, I'm not saying all the time, they get a little bit more vanilla in terms of some of the coverages and some of the calls they can make since we can move at such a quicker tempo. If we're not substituting, they're not substituting, so sometimes you get advantages there. Obviously, guys starting to get fatigue factor setting in there as well. Those are some of the things you look for when we jump to it. We do a great job with it. We've been the best in the league the last couple of years scoring points at the end of the half, scoring points at the end of the game. It's something that we do well."
But just because it worked at times last week, that doesn't necessarily mean the Seahawks will go up-tempo when the clock doesn't require it against the Packers Sunday or in other games going forward. As receiver Doug Baldwin pointed out this week, an up-tempo offense worked well for the Seahawks at times in 2011, but was less successful as opponents adjusted to it. Execution was a big part of Seattle's second-half success in St. Louis, but so too was the element of surprise.
"Coming in, we weren't a no huddle team, so sometimes the element of surprise really helps you," Bevell said. "Knowing that we're not going to be at the ball and moving at a faster tempo, so they're expecting to be able to huddle up every play. When you're able to change those tempos sometimes, all those lists of calls that have been game planned, they're not able to get to some of those calls. Some of their exotic blitzes, they might not be able to get them called. That'll just change from opponent to opponent as well. Some teams face that all the time, they're used to it and it's not a big deal."
Whether or not an up-tempo attack remains a part of Seattle's offense moving forward remains to be seen, but based on the season opener, it is at least a weapon the Seahawks will have in their back pocket moving forward if the offense needs a little spark.
"Maybe we do, maybe we don't," Bevell said. "I think that's a strategic thing that we'll continue to evaluate that. There may be times that we do it, it all depends on the game plan as well and how we want to attack them. Sometimes you don't necessarily have that plan going in and you say let's get to it because we do it so well and we don't have the rhythm we're looking for."