The new Seahawks' OC talked running game philosophy, Brandon Marshall, which receivers have flashed so far, and more.
New Seahawks offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer, the man entrusted with reviving the offense following the struggles of last season that led to the firing of Darrell Bevell, met the media Sunday for the first time since the beginning of training camp.
Here are the top five things he said.
HE REALLY LIKES THE RUNNING BACK GROUP
The Seahawks have five tailbacks on the roster — Rashaad Penny, Chris Carson, C.J. Prosise, Mike Davis and J.D. McKissic — and Schottenheimer said he was impressed with what he has seen from all five so far in camp.
“Great position competition. Honestly, all five guys are playing well right now. We’re trying them in different spots. We know versatility is going to be a big thing for them, that they can do multiple things. Again, today was a big step. You know, when you don’t get to wear pads very often, when you get a chance to wear them, you’ve got to do a lot of stuff so we did a bunch of one-on-one stuff. Coach (Chad) Morton took those guys down there. We’ll see that film, but wow. What a great group. I mean, really, a fun, fun group. An exciting group – and they’re young. I mean, it’s a young group. It’s not like there’s really an old, experienced guy in the group. What a battle, one that we’ll watch throughout the course of training camp.”
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And here is what he said specifically about Penny, Seattle’s first-round pick in the 2018 draft.
“Again, another good, young back. We talked a little bit about the backs earlier. His skill set, his run talent, his ability to come out of the backfield is unique for such a big guy. Most of those scat – he has scat back qualities along with the ability of running in between the tackles. It will be interesting. Everybody wants to see him pass protect, but I’ve been blown away by his ability to, again, diagnose the blitz, see where the blitz is coming from, and track his guy. It’s been outstanding for a young back, one of the best if not the best I’ve ever been around. But then again, now we’re getting into pads where you’ve got to show the ability to get into position, find your guy, strike and keep him away from the quarterback – and it’s early. So we’ll see the film, but very, very pleased with Rashaad and where he’s at right now.”
HE’S OKAY GOING EITHER WITH A COMMITTEE APPROACH OR THE HOT HAND
Schottenheimer, who was offensive coordinator with the Jets from 2006-11, said his time there showed a team could be effective using one back primarily or multiple backs.
“That’s a great question. It differs. Each situation is different. Most of those years in New York (Jets) when we were running the ball really, really well, there was always at least two guys. There’s a Thomas Jones and a Shonn Green and there was a LaDainian Tomlinson and a Leon Washington. It takes more than one, for sure. But, obviously, you’d like to find each guy’s niche, what they can do, and if there’s guys that can do multiple things you kind of do it based on the opponent, kind of what you’re seeing from the matchups that are created, and again, I think we have great flexibility in that regard.”
TWO YOUNG RECEIVERS HAVE STOOD OUT SO FAR
Asked what he has seen out of the receivers so far, Schottenheimer said:
“Yeah, again, a lot of good, young players. Again, getting Brandon (Marshall) here, obviously Doug (Baldwin) and Tyler (Lockett) have been here for a long time, it’s just kind of – a guy like Keenan Reynolds has shown up. He showed up today, did a couple good things. David Moore has been doing some good things. We love Jaron Brown. So again, it’s a competition we’re really excited to see. It’s still early. Today was really kind of one of the first days that the defensive backs can contest the ball and do that, so again, once we see the film – we’re not playing real football rather than taking guys to the ground. It’s real football that you see on Sunday afternoons or Monday nights. It’ll be good to see who kind of separates themselves. But, important battles.”
Speaking of Marshall, Schottenheimer said the Seahawks are still playing it cautious with him after he had ankle and toe surgery last fall.
“Well, it’s a process. Again, it’s just been a little bit, kind of increments each day. He’s working really hard in the classroom. Honestly, I bumped into him like three times today because I’m calling the play and I go to move and he’s right there and I’m like, ‘can I get a little space?’ So he’s really excited about his opportunities here, but just him getting ready, him getting his body right – we all know, obviously, what he’s capable of doing and so again, it’s the process of him getting healthy, feeling great and then obviously him learning what we do and then building the timing and trust with Russell (Wilson).”
C.J. PROSISE HAS BEEN ‘OUTSTANDING’
Prosise has been oft-injured in his two previous years with the Seahawks. But he was on the field for everything during OTAs and minicamp and has been a constant presence the first three practices of training camp. Sunday, he worked with the first-team offense during the two-minute drill and for now he appears to be the leader for the role of being the two-minute, third-down back.
“Obviously, C.J. is a guy that everybody’s talked a lot about. These last three practices, the first two for sure (and) I’ve got to watch the film today, but the first two practices (he was) outstanding. Obviously, everybody knows how versatile he is. He’s on top of his assignments mentally, so off to a great start this training camp. In the spring, I didn’t maybe feel him as much as some of the other guys, but off to a great start. Talked to him about that even today, just in the stretch line. He’s off to a great start and we all know his ability level and what he can do for us.”
YEP, HE WANTS TO BE ABLE TO RUN WHEN THE DEFENSE KNOWS A RUN IS COMING
Much has been made of the Seahawks’ desire to get back to being a better running team this season, some football observers stating that the need to run to win in the modern NFL is overblown.
Schottenheimer, though, said again Sunday that the Seahawks want to be able to run even if the defense is geared up for it.
“We did a little 9-on-7 drill today, right? So it’s a heavy eight-man box, we’ve only got our seven blockers, they’ve got the extra safety down there, and so what’s critical is the ability to get movement up front. I saw us do that today. I saw some double teams where we were knocking guys back off the ball. That’s important, and then there’s a trust factor with the back and him hitting his landmark or his course, trusting that those blocks are going to happen because sometimes they happen late. Again, I think it’s a work in progress, but again, people are going to want to make you one-dimensional. We have to be able to run versus eight-man fronts, and that’s not always with checks. It’s got to have runs that you believe in (and that) this groups believes in. ‘Hey Schotty, we can run this no matter what we do,’ and I think we’re finding that identity right now.”