Watching last Sunday’s
game against the Vikings, and seeing another team pull out a trick play to try
and win the game, it nearly made this column a moot point. I’ve been entertaining
the thought of writing an article on this subject matter, but never found the
time. But, with a lack of anything better to write about, I decided to tackle
The single shining centerpiece
of the Mike Holmgren era has been the offense – when it’s working
right. Gaudy numbers due to proper execution does tend to validate Mike Holmgren’s
philosophy – you don’t need to run trick plays to succeed in the
NFL. They are risky, normally slow to develop, if they fail they fail spectacularly
and the majority of the time, they don’t work. Then again, it would all
depend on what would constitute a “trick play”.
Most trick plays usually
involve redirection, sleight of hand, and selling one thing while doing something
else. Some of the more common trick plays are the End Around, Reverse, Double
Reverse, Hook & Ladder, Flea Flicker, Trick Pass, Fake Punt, Fake Field
Goal and finally the Direct Snap.
I think I saw Mike Holmgren
call in a reverse once.
While I do think that the
“trick play” normally doesn’t work, and usually can result
in loss of yards instead of positive ones, there are major benefits to running
them once in a while, in the right situation. Namely, when no one expects you
do use one. If your philosophy is to never use a trick play – then to
the opponent, that’s one less thing to worry about when drawing up their
defenses. On the other hand, if you live (and usually die) by the trick play,
your opponent is less likely to be fooled by them.
Moderation is the key.
There are times during a
football season where the perfectly executed fake punt can result in victory.
The problem is deciding what that perfect opportunity is to dust it off.
The only time I’ve
seen the Seahawks run a fake punt is when the snap is bobbled. The closest the
Seahawks get to trick plays is the occasional screen pass, or having the FB
take the hand-off instead of the RB. Maybe a designed bootleg.
The problem is, Mike Holmgren
is so against trick plays that he refuses to use them. Perhaps it’s an
ego thing – after all, resorting to trick plays usually means that your
normal offense isn’t getting the job done. It also may indicate a loss
of faith in your “system”. Maybe the couple of times in the past
you’ve tried them, got burned, and swore on your pet dog’s soul
you’d never do it again.
There is also the problem
that practicing trick plays takes away from valuable time practicing things
that need to be practiced in a normal course of the week’s preparation
for the next game.
Finally, if you never run
trick plays, it puts more pressure on the offense to actually pull it off if
it ever is called – much like honeymoon jitters.
All of these factors can
have an impact on a coaches decision to throw wrenches in the works. Understandable.
After the Minnesota Vikings
game, reporters asked Mike Tice about the failed trick reverse pass from Randy Moss that was intercepted in the end zone by Michael Boulware. Mike Tice responded
by saying “It's a play we had worked on for six weeks, five weeks, four
weeks. It's not something we drew up in the sand on the sidelines.”
Perhaps not – but
it was a case of the wrong play at the wrong time.
In his sixth year as a Seattle Seahawks head coach (among other titles), it’s a bit past just accepting
a winning season for Mike Holmgren. It’s not good enough to get into the
playoffs – we’ve already seen that. In this weak conference and
division, going 9-7 and winning the NFC West isn’t good enough - for the
fans, or for the team. It’s even worse for everyone involved this year
because of all of the higher expectations we all enjoyed at the beginning. Reality
has thrown a bucketful of ice water into our sugarplum dreams of the Super Bowl
this year. With such lofty expectations, the free fall into the same old Seahawks
is just that much harder to take.
So, if there ever was a
time to dust off the playbook, open it to the letter “T” and slowly
integrating some of those trick plays – it’s now, coach. Now is
the time to get a bit aggressive and creative. Three games left isn’t
the goal – it’s winning at all costs. Best of all – no one
will see it coming. Hopefully not until it’s too late.
Glenn Geiss writes the Fan Noise column for Seahawks.NET every week. Feel
free to send him feedback at firstname.lastname@example.org.