RENTON – Greg Knapp appears well-credentialed to help revive a Seattle Seahawks offense that slumped badly in 2008.
Although it would be more comforting if the new offensive coordinator also had experience as an orthopedic surgeon, physical therapist, chiropractor, acupuncturist, shaman, witch doctor or faith healer.
As seven key offensive starters landed on the injured-reserve list, the Hawks nose-dived to 28th in the NFL in offense, and were outscored by an average of a touchdown a game.
With Jim Mora taking over as coach from Mike Holmgren, many suspected he’d hire Knapp to fill the same role in Seattle that he did in Atlanta when Mora coached there.
Done deal. Knapp, 45, is on board and is part of the staff-wide youth moment.
The success of the Hawks offense in 2009 will probably have more to do with the status of Walter Jones’ knee, Matt Hasselbeck’s back, and various shoulders and knee ligaments across the roster than what Knapp will add in terms of schemes and play calls.
But it’s nonetheless important and topical.
Here’s one thing I can tell you right off: The guy knows how to work a room.
Before diving into our answers in his first press conference Tuesday, Knapp shook hands all around and expressed concern over the dire status of the newspaper business.
His mother, he reported, was recently laid off from a long-time position with a paper in California. “Hang in there … it’s a tough business,” he said.
This was close to coming in and giving us all the secret handshake.
To avoid the hopelessly technical, I’ll summarize his on-field philosophy: Although he’s got a reputation for producing effective run offenses, he wants a balanced attack. That doesn’t necessarily mean a 50-50 split on run/pass snaps every game as much as the ability to pass when needed against one team, and focus on the run the next week when it’s a better matchup against the next opponent.
He doesn’t think the typical fan will see much difference in the existing passing game, but a change in approach on run blocking could give the offense a different look.
The language attached to formations and motions will be simplified, he said, which should make the offense more “user friendly” … especially for new or young players coming in.
Asked to characterize his style, Knapp pulled out the phrase that has become the unofficial motto for Mora and his staff: “High energy.”
Take this as a good sign: Knapp and Hasselbeck started a dialogue on the first day the new coordinator arrived. Apparently, it’s a two-way discussion.
“I’m meeting a lot with Matt, seeing what he’s strong and comfortable with,” Knapp said. “It’s been great. … I’ve told him, I’m taking information from him, because he’s our starting quarterback.”
It’s unlikely Knapp has had more communication about football with anybody other than Mora. Both were assistants in San Francisco before Knapp coordinated the Falcons offense when Mora was the coach.
In both those places, Knapp and Mora lived in the same area (same block, in fact, in California), and they often commuted to work together. There was no time to play Slug Bug.
As they drove, they tested each other. If I come out in this formation, what are you thinking? If we do this, how do you counter? The volleyed hypotheticals gave each better insight to their craft.
“We challenged each other and learned a lot together in that environment,” Knapp said.
Of course, he was asked if he is seeking housing on Mora’s block this time around.
“No, that’s a different rent district,” Knapp said.
Knapp’s offenses have been statistically strong over the years. Although reports held that he had his play-calling duties revoked last season in Oakland. That, he said, was an owner decision. Before reading too much into that, be aware that most around the NFL tend to dismiss Al Davis’ decisions.
How much change will the fans in Seattle notice?
“I can’t give you the secrets,” he said. “Each coordinator has his own different flavor. There’s going to be some stuff that is different than what has been seen.”
Certainly, it’s going to take more than an altered offensive scheme to get the Seahawks back to where they have been in previous seasons.
After all, the guy’s not a faith healer.
Dave Boling: 253-597-8440