The Seahawks have re-tooled their coaching staff following the departure of Mike Holmgren.
Head coach Jim Mora brings with him his favorite sidekick in new offensive coordinator Greg Knapp. Together In Atlanta at the same capacity, they led three straight No. 1 rushing attacks from 2004 to 2006.
On defense he appointed former Tampa Bay linebackers coach Casey “Gus” Bradley as coordinator. He was given a stirring recommendation by Tampa 2 maestro Monte Kiffin as quoted in the Seattle PI:
"J.L., listen to me. I have got a guy here in Tampa that is one of, if not, the finest football coaches I have ever worked with. He's an A-plus. He's a once-in-a-lifetime coach. You need to talk to him."
Soon after Mora got off the phone with Kiffin, he brought Bradley in for an interview. Eleven long, engaging hours later Mora was making Casey his hire. He replaces former defensive coordinator John Marshall, who has since taken up the same post with the Oakland Raiders.
As assistant head coach and defensive line coach, Mora made Dan Quinn his hire. Maybe Dan Quinn is the next coach in waiting? (Kidding). Let's get to know these three coaches better:
Greg Knapp—Offensive Coordinator
Knapp played college football for Sacramento State University, where he ranks as one the schools all-time passing leaders with 3,800+ yards and 38 TD’s.
He broke into the NFL in 1995 with the San Francisco 49ers as an offensive quality control coach. He made his way up the coaching ladder there, being promoted to QB coach in 1998 and to offensive coordinator in 2001.
Knapp left the Bay Area after 2003 to join forces with head coach Jim Mora in Atlanta. This is where Knapp would stamp a legacy in being a top run producing offensive coordinator.
In his three seasons with Atlanta, he led the team to three straight No. 1 rushing attacks and turned Michael Vick into one of the most prolific running QB’s in history.
In his nine seasons as an offensive coordinator, Knapp has led three No. 1 rushing attacks (all in Atlanta), and six rushing attacks overall ranked in the top six. His offenses have never finished lower then tenth overall in rushing.
He brings his rushing pedigree to Seattle, where the Seahawks finished a modest 19th in 2008. He replaces former offensive coordinator Gil Haskell, who held the job for the last nine seasons.
He is a West Coast style offensive coordinator, although his variation is not quite as true as Holmgren's near Bill Walsh clone. Under Knapp, the Seahawks will transition from a passing mentality to a run first mentality.
The zone blocking scheme Knapp is installing will cater to the Seahawks fast, athletic offensive linemen. This is the same scheme he has used elsewhere that has produced his prolific rushing numbers.
Knapp also has the benefit of getting to work with one of the NFL’s best passers in Pro Bowl QB Matt Hasselbeck. In recent memory Knapp has had Michael Vick and JaMarcus Russell to work with.
Both are scrambling type QB’s who are not incredibly accurate. In Oakland with Russell he also had to deal with growing pains, as he was a rookie in 2007.
Hasselbeck is a proven veteran QB with great accuracy. If he can manage to stay healthy Knapp will have a great QB and deep WR unit to complement his dominant rushing attack.
Gus Bradley—Defensive Coordinator
Bradley has made a rapid ascent from a Division I-AA college coach to an NFL defensive coordinator in the span of four seasons.
As the defensive coordinator at North Dakota State he got a call from Tampa Bay defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin seeking a job reference. One thing led to another, and he was appointed the Buccaneers' linebackers coach.
Going from seeking to promoting, Kiffin helped influence Seahawks coach Jim Mora into hiring Bradley as his defensive coordinator.
Like Mora, Bradley is a high energy, "in your face"-type coach who is very passionate about the game of football. As a former linebackers coach, he should be thrilled with the vaunted LB trio he is inheriting of Lofa Tatupu, Leroy Hill, and Aaron Curry.
Being a pupil of Monte Kiffin, Bradley will be employing the Tampa 2 scheme in Seattle.
Seattle seems a perfect match for this scheme with an undersized, speedy defense anchored by an outstanding LB unit. The Tampa 2 relies a great deal on speed to produce overwhelming pressure, something both Mora and Bradley have stated they will bring plenty of in 2009.
With Mora being a defensive-minded coach, Bradley will likely not be the one calling the game plan on a weekly basis. Mora will be to the Seahawks defense what Holmgren was to the Seahawks offense, in a nutshell.
This is not to say Bradley’s voice will not be heard, or that his presence will not be felt on the sidelines. He will have a say in what the Seahawks are on defense.
The addition of Bradley was just another one of GM Tim Ruskell's brilliant moves made during this fantastic offseason and transitional period.
Dan Quinn—Defensive Line/Assistant Head Coach
When Mora was seeking out Quinn to join his coaching staff, it represented a turning of the tides.
It was Quinn who was pulling out all the stops to get Mora's (then the 49ers' defensive coordinator), attention back in 2001.
Looking for any chance to climb to the NFL ranks, the Hofstra defensive coordinator flooded Mora's phone. Mora cited Quinn’s relentless nature as one of the deciding factors in his addition to the Defensive coaching staff as a quality control coach.
While Mora was searching for his defensive coordinator, his primary first target was Quinn. After Casey Bradley’s amazing first impression, he still wanted to bring Quinn aboard in another capacity. That’s when the decision was made to appoint him as the defensive line/assistant head coach.
He comes to Seattle after coaching the New York Jets DL for the past two seasons. Quinn will be making a transition from the three-man front employed in New York, to the four-man front used Seattle. Quinn replaces former DL coach Dwain Board, who followed John Marshall to the Oakland Raiders to be the DL coach there.
Like his fellow coaches Mora and Bradley, Quinn loves to be aggressive and apply pressure.
What a strange coincidence.
Quinn wants all of the DL to be aggressive, relentless, and technically sound. In other words, mimicking Pro Bowl DE Patrick Kerney on a consistent basis.
Quinn takes over a revamped DL that has a perfect mesh of size, speed, and sound technique. Offseason additions DT Colin Cole and DE Cory Redding add some much needed size. Incumbent DT Brandon Mebane and DE Patrick Kerney contrast this with great speed.
Since the Tampa 2 primarily calls on the front four to apply the most pressure, the DL unit should see a sharp incline in sack production. If Kerney can remain healthy, this deep unit will be a force to be reckoned with.
With a coaching makeover and some key offseason additions peppered in, the Seahawks are poised to make a positive transition from the 2008 4-12 disaster.
Fans should be optimistic about the new schemes and how well they appear to mesh with the personal—I know I am.