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Danny O'Neil covers the Seahawks for The Seattle Times.

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January 7, 2009 2:43 PM

Inside Knapp's numbers

Posted by Danny O'Neil

Seattle's offense was going to look different post-Mike Holmgren. That was apparent as early as last offseason when the Seahawks took their first steps in a new direction with the addition of T.J. Duckett -- a player Holmgren said he didn't really know how to use.

Well, the new coaching staff has a pretty good idea. Duckett was a pretty effective running back for Jim Mora and Greg Knapp in Atlanta in 2004 and 2005. Duckett was the change-of-pace back those seasons, carrying more than 100 times each season before he was traded to Washington in 2006.

So what can we expect from an offense with Greg Knapp as the coordinator? Well, look at the numbers of Atlanta's offense under his guidance and you'll see the Falcons led the league in rushing each of his three seasons and ran the ball more often than they passed each of those three years:

YearRush yardsRankPass yardsRankRushesPasses
20042,67212,69230524395
20052,54612,90727531451
20062,93912,68232537416

 

But that's not a completely fair measurement because Atlanta has had one of the greatest running quarterbacks in NFL history in Michael Vick. He was not, however, a precise passer. So perhaps the play distribution did not reflect Knapp's preference so much as his flexibility in adapting his offensive game plans to fit the personnel he had in place.

Knapp's résumé includes more than just those three seasons in Atlanta, however. He was San Francisco's offensive coordinator from 2001 to 2003 and in Oakland for the past two seasons. Here's a look at the numbers for those seasons:

49ersRush yardsRankPass yardsRankRushesPasses
20012,22423,55914509506
20022,22463,57614489571
20032,27953,56610499511
RaidersRush yardsRankPass yardsRankRushesPasses
20072,08662,63131508451
20081,987102,36932459421

 

So Atlanta wasn't entirely an aberration. In eight seasons as an NFL offensive coordinator, Knapp's teams had more rushes than passes six times. In comparison, in the past eight seasons, Seattle has finished with more rushes than passes just twice.

Prepare for a Seismic shift in run-pass distribution.

Not only that, but Knapp has shown an ability to balance carries across his backfield. He's had multiple players with more than 100 carries in each of his eight seasons as a coordinator. In San Francisco, he balanced Kevin Barlow and Garrison Hearst. In Atlanta, it was Warrick Dunn, Vick, T.J. Duckett and Jerious Norwood.

Balancing the workload across multiple backs was something Holmgren never completely bought into. He tried to do it this season with Julius Jones and Maurice Morris before going toward Morris as the lead back the final month of the season.

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