JOHN CLAYTON

Clayton: What will look different for Seahawks with new assistant coaches

Jul 18, 2018, 1:07 PM
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Ken Norton Jr. is entering his second year as the Seahawks' defensive coordinator. (AP)
(AP)

The offseason started with Pete Carroll shaking up the Seahawks’ coaching staff, firing both coordinators and Tom Cable. So when training camp opens next weeks, there will be a different look to what fans have been seeing in the past couple of years.

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Some of the changes will be very noticeable. Carroll wants to go back to being a physical, running offense. He’s not changing the defensive scheme, but it should look a little different with Ken Norton Jr. calling the plays.

Here is what to watch in camp and the preseason with Seattle’s new coaching staff.

Offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer

Brian Schottenheimer was criticized by some writers by saying during OTAs that he wants to run the football. Critics thought he was outdated, but you will see a noticeable difference in what will be done with the running backs. First of all, Schottenheimer himself will be noticeable on the practice field.

Before and after each play, he is trying to coach and instruct what he wants – from the quarterback to the running backs to the receivers. His mission is to be more hands-on and get more out of the running backs.

Back in the Marshawn Lynch days, the Seahawks would have more than 500 carries per year. In each of the past two years, they have had less than 410 carries. More running plays will be in order, and there will be some scheme adjustments. Schottenheimer will be experimenting with different ways of spacing the receivers and tight ends to open more running areas for the backs, too.

Another key will be Schottenheimer calling more pass plays for the backs. Last year, the Seahawks shied away from screen passes, but Chris Carson, Rashaad Penny, C.J. Prosise and J.D. McKissic are all good catching the football.

Offensive line coach Mike Solari

The changes to the O-line might be subtle, but they are significant.

Tom Cable was a master of coaching zone blocking. He wanted more athleticism and speed from his offensive linemen.

Mike Solari is old school. He wants his linemen using their leverage to win the battle at the line of scrimmage. Sure, he has some zone blocking plays, but you will see more combo blocks, pulling guard plays and more plays in which a fullback might lead a back into the line of scrimmage.

Solari is a stickler for technique and will make linemen keep executing blocks until they are done correctly.

Defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr.

If you look back in Carroll’s history with the Seahawks, his defensive coordinators often featured some of what they liked as more specific position coaches.

When Dan Quinn was defensive coordinator, he got so much out of the defensive linemen both with scheme and technique, working hard in making sure they used their hands to get past blockers.

Kris Richard was a secondary coach and tried to add more creativity to the cornerbacks and safety.

Norton, meanwhile, coached linebackers and helped make Bobby Wagner and K.J. Wright into the Pro Bowlers that they are now.

Wagner is hoping the Seahawks will blitz more, and Norton might accommodate. According to Pro Football Focus, the Seahawks were toward the bottom part of the list of teams that blitzed at 22.3 percent of the time last year. But they were very good at it, getting 54.3 percent pressures on blitzes, best in the league. Wagner is one of the best blitzing middle linebackers in the NFL. Cornerback Justin Coleman can blitz from the slot, as well.

Norton is also going to try to get more physicality out of the defense. He’s a motivator and a players’ coach.

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