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Last year was the best Seahawk season ever. What a ride it was last year. This is a new season now and it is time to start another journey to the ultimate goal. The off-season has never been shorter, and here I am addicted for any Seahawk news. Anything -- I need a fix. These are the dog days of the off-season in late June and early July.
The front office announced a desire to pursue a veteran backup quarterback and then leaves us hanging. Well I have been hung long enough. I think the lack of noise is really the story here. Jeff Garcia, Shaun King, and Craig Nall, all have been available and all have been West Coast Offense QBs. Yet they only bring in my favorite martian - Jamie Martin! I think all along, the front office knew who they were targeting and were waiting for the right dominoes to fall, to get him.
We have never been so close to the pinnacle of the NFL before. Hass has been very durable. Our #2 QB Seneca Wallace, is considered to be the most athletic person on the team, yet rarely gets on the field. The coaching staff has stated they would like to get Wallace on the field for a few plays via the slash role such as WR/RB/PR/KR, but would not do so without another veteran backup that has experienced success before. Is this coach speak for lack of confidence of Seneca as the backup or do they truly desire SW in a slash role? The team did pursue Brad Johnson last year. The slash role could be just a convenient explanation to pursue a veteran without blowing Wallace’s confidence. Wallace has been in Holmgren’s system for 4 years now. He has not been tested in a meaningful game, so it would be hard to justify his capability to perform in Matt’s absence. A role such as that does put the player in jeopardy for injuries. Whoever follows Seneca on the depth chart is even less capable of managing a team attempting to return to the Super Bowl. David Greene is currently the #3 QB/ Holmgren and Zorn think highly in him for his potential to do well in a WCO offense. Recently, his progress has plateaued though. Most telling, is Holmgren's audio containing a decidedly tepid endorsement of Greene's progress thus far (http://blogs.thenewstribune.com/media/07_08_2006_Holmgren.mp3).
The West Coast Offense is very intricate and takes a long time to learn. To perform well in the WCO, you need intelligence and reps. Receiver routes and blocking assignments may change as the play evolves. Yes, the blocking and the receiver routes are dynamically reconfigured during action. In our offense tempo is stressed. Get the play in from the sideline and then hike the ball with minimum time elapsed. The advantage here is to not let the defense get set. The defense would not be able to substitute based on the offensive formation. The players have to be in great physical shape. Our advantage is that the other team becomes so winded because the time between plays is so short, that they become winded. The majority of the passing plays are short routes predicated in long gains achieved with YAC (yards after catch). Holmgren has been known as a coach that uses more formations than any other coach, except for maybe his disciples. He also scripts his plays to see how teams react. The double TE formations and the plays that emanate out of those sets, raises the complexity and the game planning that opposing coaches must accommodate. This gives the Seahawks an edge.
Not just any QB can be inserted into the WCO and perform well. A veteran backup will need time to acclimate to the scheme or he must have been groomed elsewhere.
Tim Rattay has operated within the West Coast Offenses employed by Tampa and San Francisco for his entire 6 year career. Tim played in 32 games and started 16 of them for SF tossing 24 TDs and 18 INTs. He completed 356 for 586 attempts for 3941 yards. This was remarkable for an anemic running team such as SF, frequently playing from behind and the defense knew they had to throw. His QB rating was 82 overall, 93 when ahead, 135 when the game was tied, and 68 when behind during his tenure with the 49ers.
The scouting report on Rattay as provided by Scouts, Inc. -- “He has a nice touch in the short and intermediate passing game. He has good quickness setting up in the pocket and has generally good quarterback mechanics. He does not have great height and has trouble seeing in the pocket. He is smooth getting rid of the ball and has shown good toughness in his ability to take a hit. He does not have great running ability but has enough movement to escape the rush and get downfield to make positive yards. He makes good decisions with the ball and rarely tries to force the ball where it should not be thrown. He has a quick release but his arm strength and the ability to throw the deep ball is a question. He takes care of the ball and doesn't put it on the ground. His inability to challenge the defense with a deep ball is going to cause more problems with schemes underneath. With a better surrounding cast, he can get the job done."
These attributes meet the requirements set forth by Holmgren when he sought to obtain the services of Matt Hasselbeck. In his scheme, the deep throws are not required, but he does lack the height. Seneca is shorter. He’s smart and makes few mistakes, and he knows how to manage the game well. He reminds me of Dilfer.
Tim Rattay is buried on the roster of Tampa Bay, never rising above third on the depth chart. He is due $1.25m this year as the #3 QB. Only Joey Harrington, Josh McCown and Kyle Boller will make more as a non-starter this year. Simms is the starter. Fiedler is the #2, has been coached by Gruden before, and is more experienced than Rattay. Gruden is enamoured with Brad Gradbowski, the athletic QB they drafted this year. Gruden will retain Gradbowski on the roster to prevent another team from swooping down on their practice squad and taking him. The rookie has really impressed their coaching staff.
Rattay is in the last year of his contract. The Seahawks have plenty of cap room, are a Super Bowl contender, and run the WCO. This would suggest enough motivation to entice Rattay to negotiate an extension with the Seahawks. I should point out that there may be no other team in the NFL better prepared to make a deal with Tampa Bay to obtain Rattay. Ruston Webster was on the personnel team that traded with SF to acquire Rattay. Ruskell also has strong ties with TB. Holmgren has seen Rattay oppose the Hawks. He was 23-35 for 259 yards, 2TDS, 1 INT and a 95 QB rating in that game. Julian Peterson and Jimmy Williams were former team-mates. Gruden really does not have room for him. All indicators are that Fiedler will be fully ready to resume drills at camp. Look for a deal to be made right before camp. A 6th round draft pick will be the cost of acquisition.
Now Ruskell and Webster need to get on the phone with the front office of Tampa. Get 'er done!