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.