Seahawks overhaul defense
The Seahawks have started from scratch in assem- bling their defense under new coach Jim Mora and defensive coordinator Gus Bradley, revising everything from the forma- tions and the nomenclature to the way guys huddle up.
Seattle Times staff reporter
To say the Seahawks tore up their defensive playbook over the past month would be inaccurate, but only because most NFL playbooks are kept on computers these days.
The Seahawks have started from scratch in assembling their defense under new coach Jim Mora and defensive coordinator Gus Bradley, revising everything from the formations and the nomenclature to the way guys huddle up.
"I'm not so sure you won't refer to this as the West Coast defense," said Tim Lewis, the team's new defensive backs coach. "It's really neat to have as many people with as much experience as we've got on our defensive side. It will be diverse. It will be dynamic."
Just what it looks like remains an open question, one that is being discussed and debated by an overhauled defensive coaching staff that is now overhauling the playbook.
This is not going to be the same as the defense Mora ran in Atlanta. He doesn't have one defensive assistant who served under him with the Falcons.
Mora hired a defensive coordinator he has never worked with before. That would be Bradley, who came highly recommended from Monte Kiffin, the well-regarded former defensive coordinator in Tampa Bay.
Mora hadn't ever worked with Lewis, either, but he served as defensive coordinator with both the Pittsburgh Steelers and the New York Giants.
Throw in Dan Quinn, the defensive-line coach hired from the Jets, and the result is three new coaches who've never worked together being brought in to help resculpt Seattle's playbook. A botanist would call it cross-pollination.
"We've been trying to get to know each other," Bradley said. "We're kind of gathering information as far as concepts that everybody's been a part of. We're in a unique situation."
Starting from scratch might not be such a bad idea for this Seattle defense, which was expected to be a strength in 2007 with four returning Pro Bowlers and instead performed a headfirst dive into the toilet. The Seahawks went from allowing the fewest touchdown passes in 2007 to giving up the most passing yards in the league in 2008.
There are only three holdovers on the defensive coaching staff from last season: linebackers coach Zerick Rollins, assistant secondary coach Larry Marmie and quality-control coach Tom Headlee.
As head coach, Mora's fingerprints will be all over the defense.
"I intend to be very, very involved with the defense," he said. "It's my passion. It's what I love to do. It's something I believe I'm pretty good at."
But it's more than just his voice that will be heard.
"I've hired a tremendous defensive staff," Mora said. "We've added some outstanding coaches who have a very similar philosophy to me in terms of how you become a great defensive football team."
And for the past few weeks, the staff has begun drawing up a blueprint for that defense, starting with the ground floor of the playbook.
"We're starting to put the book together from the very basics," Lewis said. "It's kind of amazing, but it's very good. It's refreshing."
They've sat around a table, discussing ideas and concepts with Mora and Bradley both moderating and making sure everyone has a chance to offer input.
"We're sitting around a table like this; nothing gets typed or written really until everybody has a say-so," Lewis said. "It's really dynamic. It gives me a chill."
Danny O'Neil: 206-464-2364 or email@example.com
Copyright © 2009 The Seattle Times Company
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