Seahawks Lose Alexander

Richard BowlerSenior Analyst ISeptember 27, 2006

IconThe Seattle Seahawks were dealt a blow on Monday when X-rays revealed a crack in reigning MVP Shaun Alexander's foot. This is obviously a tremendous loss for the Seahawks offense, and the whole team will have to step up in the wake of the news. While you can't easily replace a player like Alexander, I will try and explain how the team might make do in his absence.
First of all, the guy replacing Alexander is longtime backup and former second-round pick out of Oregon Maurice Morris. Morris, who will get the bulk of the carries, is a well-rounded back with a good knowledge of the system and plenty of game experience in the West Coast offense. Maurice is a different kind of runner than Shaun, with more of a quick, straight-ahead style. With the new players on the offensive line, Alexander has had problems making his cutback style work. Morris, on the other hand, may have some success hitting the holes immediately and using his speed to gain positive yardage. Morris is also a more effective option in the passing game; he is a good blocker and can be a threat catching the ball, which are at times weak points in Alexander's game. Look for fullback Mack Strong to get more carries as well, especially in short yardage situations.

The Seahawks will also use the passing game to compensate for the loss of Alexander. Most West Coast offenses focus on the pass instead of the run. Coach Mike Holmgren prefers to throw the rock, and only featured the running game because he was playing to his team's strength. When you put together the offseason loss of left guard Steve Hutchinson, the injury to Alexander, and the acquisition of wide receivers Nate Burleson and Deion Branch, it's clear that coach Holmgren now has plenty of incentive to emphasize his passing attack. Look for the Seahawks to go into a plethora of three- and four-wide receiver sets in order to get the most talent possible on the field at one time. Holmgren will also use some reverses and wide receiver screens to get the ball to his playmakers. If the Seahawks are successful in the air, they can take a lot of the pressure off Morris and the running game.
Now, it might sound like I'm trying to say that the loss of Shaun Alexander isn't big deal. The truth is that I believe the Seahawks have put themselves in a position to weather the storm with the depth of talent on their roster. The task this week will be as tough as it gets, as Seattle takes on a strong Bears squad in Chicago. Good teams band together to overcome injuries; it's time to see what the Seahawks are made of.