Seahawks Coming Around to the Shotgun

Bill Walsh, Mike Holmgren's coaching mentor, never liked the shotgun formation because of its propensity for error. Holmgren has shared that view. But as the Seahawks redefine their pass-first offense, the shotgun is seeing more time now than before in Holmgren's tenure in Seattle.

Quarterback Matt Hasselbeck used the formation a few times against San Francisco in the first week that the pass-first offense was used, but he used it on 30 percent of the team's passing plays on Sunday (13 times), an indication that it will become more of a staple of the team's offense.

Holmgren said there are not any plays specifically designed to use the shotgun. Instead, when Hasselbeck emerges from the huddle, if he sees a defense that he thinks will be conducive to starting four yards behind his center, he audibles into the shotgun.

The first time the Seahawks used the formation was almost disastrous. Center Chris Spencer virtually rolled the ball back to Hasselbeck, and there was some talk that Spencer did not know that Hasselbeck was not under center.

Then last week, Spencer nearly snapped the ball over Hasselbeck's head, as the two were not entirely in sync yet after spending so little time rehearsing. Oddly, Hasselbeck completed passes on both poor snaps.

"Matt does have pretty good ability, it seems, to catch the ball, get it in his hands the way he wants it, and then deliver the ball quickly," Holmgren said. "Not everyone can do that, and I don't want him to have to do that all the time. But, having said that, he likes this. The real positive is he's away from all the bad guys and he can breathe a little bit, even if they're coming.

"The important thing is he likes, and we seem to be functioning pretty well using it. I do not tell him when to do it, well there's a few times I told him not to do it in a game. There's a few times I wanted him to take the snap from center. Look, I'm not so hard-headed, it's working, I'm happy for everybody. If he likes it I'm glad."

Holmgren said Hasselbeck and the receivers have had to adjust some of their timing on plays because receiving the ball in the shotgun rather than from under center alters the quarterback's dropbacks vis-a-vis the receivers' routes.

PLAYER NOTES

--QB Matt Hasselbeck is not expected to practice this week because of sore ribs, but he is expected to play against the St. Louis Rams. Hasselbeck currently has a 91.3 passer rating, the second-best rating of his career.

--RB Shaun Alexander is not likely to practice on Wednesday and thus he is not likely to play Sunday because coach Mike Holmgren would like to see Alexander get a full week of practice in before playing again after spraining his left knee. Maurice Morris has started for Alexander for two weeks, gaining 87 yards each week.

--WR Bobby Engram needs just 28 receptions and 204 yards in the final six weeks to reach his career highs, which had established in Chicago in 1999. Forty of his 60 receptions have been for first-down yardage.

--TE Marcus Pollard is back from his arthroscopic knee surgery and is fully healthy, starting again even though his replacement, Will Heller, had three touchdown catches in his place. Pollard had two catches for 33 yards against the Chicago Bears on Sunday.

--WR D.J. Hackett has had two consecutive weeks of career highs, going for nine catches for 136 yards a week after going for eight catches for 120 yards. He now has three career 100-yard games.

--DE Patrick Kerney now has 4.5 sacks after posting three on Sunday. He still is behind teammates Julian Peterson (8) and Darryl Tapp (5.5), but together they give the Seahawks the second-best pass rush in the league behind the New York Giants.

--PR Nate Burleson was stripped of his duties when it appears there is a chance the ball is caught inside the 10. In that case, Bobby Engram will man the punt return duties because Engram is a better decision-maker.

--LB Leroy Hill had a strained hamstring in practice all last week, limiting him to practicing on Friday and Saturday, yet he led the team in tackles with 10. He will play against St. Louis.

--PK Josh Brown is third in the NFC with 12 touchbacks, which ties a career high with six games left. Brown also is 20-23 on field-goal attempts.

--DE Darryl Tapp went back to the right side after spending the entire game against San Francisco on the left side so that Patrick Kerney could protect a strained oblique. Tapp has fumble recoveries in two straight games.

 

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