Monday, August 17, 2009

Seahawks Win First Preseason Game

Preseason is not a time to think much about wins and losses, and early preseason games don’t give me too much of an idea how the team that ultimately opens the regular year is going to look and play by then.  There were a couple things that I thought were encouraging in tonight’s preseason opener in San Diego, won 20-14 by the Hawks in Jim Mora’s first game as the new head coach. 

First, there were no injuries to note.  After the last couple of seasons in particular, when guys seemed to go on the injury  lists just getting from their cars into the practice facility, it was great to get through a game (albeit one in which almost every starter either didn’t play, or did a quick ole and hit the showers) without any injuries.  It may be just an easy and coincidental observation that a number of players commented in various ways about how ‘fit’ they felt already.  Could it be that Mora’s focus on conditioning and physical play is already paying some dividends in the form of fewer injuries?  If so, will it continue throughout the year?  If it is just a coincidence will it please continue all year, Oh Grand Pigskin Deity?

Second, the Charger’s first offensive play from scrimmage was a Seahawk sack of Philip Rivers, and it set a nice tone for the Seahawks defense, which looked to me to be quick, physical and it seemed to me that a lot of the defensive play was occurring at the line of scrimmage, not so much with four to six guys converging to smother a runner three or four or five yards beyond the line of scrimmage.  I think every Seahawk fan would love to see a defensive front that contested the play at the line of scrimmage, and we saw that a lot tonight. 

The Hawks ran the ball often tonight, and though the average gain was unimpressive, it was a clear sign of the new philosophy at work when the Hawks ran the ball thirty-three times and threw it only thirty-five.  The new blocking approach hasn’t gelled yet, clearly, but it will be fun to see what this team can do with a tough defense and a commitment to running the ball, and doing it well.     Overall, it was a nice start to the new era – essentially meaningless I know, but despite that , I admit that I found myself revving up a bit.  Could be that I sensed some encouraging elements in the Hawks play, or schemes, or philosophy, or, I suppose it could just be that the NFL is back and I LOVE that every year just a little more than the year before. 

I will admit that I did miss the sight of Mike Holmgren, and the potential – Vesuvian as well as mad scientist-like that always seemed to be simmering just beneath the surface.  I enjoyed hearing that Mora is just as committed to accountability as Holmgren was, but according to one of the players where Coach Holmgren might see something he didn’t like on the field and go Krakatoa on a player, Mora’s style relies more on visual aids (unless you count volume, an impossibly bright red face and a glare so intense it could be used for welding).  He tends to run video of a play, stop the video and make it clear that he didn’t want to see that type of thing (be it bad technique, missed reads, sloppiness, whatever) again.  In some ways I’d say that approach is even more directly calling a player out than the red-faced tongue lashing.  When done with film and slow-motion replying of the play, Mora makes his point, and uses the entire team to hold the player (and by extension every other guy who might need to learn from the error he’s shown) accountable.  It is a different approach, but it doesn’t sound like a soft one to me.  And the knock on Mora (probably from idiots like me) has often been that he’s a ‘player’s coach’.  The implication in that remark is that the coach is soft and doesn’t hold his players accountable.  I don’t know that this description fits Mora, or if it ever has in this sense.  But if the tone I’ve heard from his players continues, and his means of holding himself, his coaches and his players accountable is in fact similar to what the players have described, I think Coach Mora will put paid to this particular vague and uncertain ‘knock’ on him pretty quickly.

(I think no matter how well any coach does for the Hawks, I will always miss Coach Holmgren much as I still miss Lou Piniella after all these years…)

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Sunshine on Discovery Bay

Sunshine on Discovery Bay
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