Is Brian Schottenheimer The Answer To The Seattle Seahawks’ Offensive Woes?

This week the Seattle Seahawks formally announced new coaching hires that had been revealed late last week, among them, most notably, new offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer and new defensive coordinator Ken Norton, Jr. It’s safe to say that the more talked about addition to the Pete Carroll’s coaching staff is Schottenheimer, who replaces Darrell Bevell, who had become the target of fans’ ire ever since the infamous slant pass at the goal line by Russell Wilson to New England Patriots defensive back Malcolm Butler in the Super Bowl.

A Little Bit About Brian Schottenheimer

Schottenheimer, the son of legendary head coach Marty Schottenheimer, has held the position of offensive coordinator with the New York Jets and the St. Louis Rams, under Chuck Mangini, Rex Ryan, and Jeff Fisher. Most recently he has been the quarterbacks’ coach with the Indianapolis Colts under Chick Pagano. By joining Carroll’s staff, it is safe to say that he continues a coaching arc of working under primarily defensive minded head coaches.

With the Jets, his offense finished no better than ninth in the league in points, that coming in 2008. The other five seasons, from 2006 to 2011, the Jet’s ranked 18th, 25th, 17th, 13th, and 13th, in points scored. The 2009 campaign may have been Schottenheimer’s most successful in terms of yardage with the Jets, as his offense relied heavily on Thomas Jones, in tandem with Shone Greene and Leon Washington at running back, to lead the league in rushing and finish fifth overall in yards from scrimmage. Just imagine what they could have done if Mark Sanchez wasn’t Mark Sanchez? The Jets finished 31st in passing yards that season.

To be fair, the lack of a quality quarterback to work with has been a persistent narrative during Schottenheimer’s career. In New York his primary QBs were the aforementioned Sanchez, Chad Pennington before him, and that one season of a thirty-nine-year-old Brett Favre thrown in the middle. And, don’t discount the eight-game contribution of Kellen Clemens in 2007.

In St. Louis, Schottenheimer’s talent at QB was a bit better if you are among those who consider the glass-like Sam Bradford to be a good QB. The rest of the possibilities rounded out with Kellen Clemens, Aaron Davis, and Shaun Hill. And in St. Louis, it’s worth noting that Schottenheimer followed Josh McDaniels, who also couldn’t do much with Sam Bradford.

Going Forward with the Seahawks’ Offense

It’s hard to fault an offensive coordinator whose best ever quarterback may have been Chad Pennington. And, it’s certainly not Schottenheimer’s fault that Andrew Luck has been injured during most of his watch in Indy. So, Russell Wilson qualifies, without much debate, as the best quarterback Schottenheimer has had to work with. The question is how will he use him given his past experience as the head guy in an offense.

It’s clear from the 2009 campaign in New York that, given the right running back or running backs, Schottenheimer likes to pound the rock. In addition to leading the league in rushing yards that season, the Jets attempted the most rushes, scored the third most touchdowns on the ground, came in fifth in yards per attempt, and, most importantly, protected the football, with only five teams turning the ball over less.

The problem with this offensive equation, as Seahawks’ fans are all too aware, is that you have to have the personnel to execute it. That season, the Jets’ offensive line ranked 6th in DVOA, a measure of overall efficiency. Jets’ running backs were hardly ever stopped behind the line of scrimmage, as the O-line ranked 4th in the NFL in “stuffed” yards. Thomas Jones rode that pony to 1,402 yards and 14 TD’s

The Seahawks current offensive line and stable of backs doesn’t begin to compare. So, unless Schottenheimer can run block and/or run the ball – unlikely as he was a backup QB at Florida 25 years ago – then there is only so much he can do. Probably the best thing Schottenheimer contributes at this juncture is not being Darrell Bevell.

New Personnel

In his latest Mock Draft, Mel Kiper, Jr. projects the Seahawks taking Florida State safety Darwin James with the 18th overall pick. Other sites devoted to the NFL draft project James Washington, WR from Oklahoma State, Mike McGinchy, OT from Notre Dame, or Quenton Nelson, OG from Notre Dame. With the NFL draft running from Thursday, April 26 to Saturday, April 28, the answer to how effective Brian Schottenheimer will be, will start to materialize in the personnel choices the Seahawks make going forward.

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About Brian Hight 112 Articles
Brian Hight lives in Seattle and writes primarily about MLB and the local Seattle Mariners, with a focus on advanced analytics. Occasionally, he delves into the NFL and the NBA, also with an emphasis on advanced statistics. He’s currently pursuing a Certificate in Data Analysis online from Microsoft, where he hopes to create a prediction model for baseball outcomes for his capstone project.