Seattle Seahawks

Though early, Schottenheimer a breath of fresh air for Seahawks' offense

New offensive Coordinator Brian Schottenheimer calls out during Seahawks rookie minicamp at the Virginia Mason Athletic Center in Renton on Friday. Through two days of rookie drills it's already noticeable how, in coach Pete Carroll's words "very active" Schottenheimer is on the field.
New offensive Coordinator Brian Schottenheimer calls out during Seahawks rookie minicamp at the Virginia Mason Athletic Center in Renton on Friday. Through two days of rookie drills it's already noticeable how, in coach Pete Carroll's words "very active" Schottenheimer is on the field. Joshua Bessex/The News Tribune

Brian Schottenheimer had just given the next play to the quarterback. But the Seahawks' new playcaller wasn't content to just let the snap play out from there.

It already seems like Schottenheimer, the biggest move in Pete Carroll's massive overhaul of Seattle's coaching staff this offseason, isn't content with much of anything.

The team's new offensive coordinator walked down the line of undrafted free-agent wide receivers behind the huddle where he had just given seventh-round draft choice Alex McGough the play. Schottenheimer then noticed tryout receiver Ross Scheuerman lined up in the slot on the left side of the formation.

And not to the coach's exacting specifications, either.

Schottenheimer ran up to the 25-year-old receiver from Lafayette before the snap, grabbed him around the waist and pulled him two steps to the right. The adjustment may have been a foot, foot and a half, tops. In a no-pads, rookie-minicamp practice. In May. And with a player unlikely to make even training camp, let alone the team.

Yet the moment exemplified what Russell Wilson and the Seahawks' offense can expect this year.

It matches what the NFL quarterback he's coached most the past decade said in giving a scouting report on Schottenheimer.

“Brian is very detailed-specific,” veteran backup Kellen Clemens told me in January, just after Seattle hired the 44-year-old former coordinator with Clemens' Rams and Jets. Schottenheimer spent last season as the Colts' quarterbacks coach.

“One thing Brian does is he’s going to hold people accountable.”

Already conspicuous in a scruffy beard, Seahawks visor pulled low over his brow and play cards in both his hand and his waistband, Schottenheimer was holding McGough accountable Saturday. Immediately after some running plays in team scrimmaging, Schottenheimer pulled him aside and stepped the rookie through the footwork he wants on hand-offs — during and after them.

“Brian is a guy that is very, very passionate at what he does. He’s been known to raise his voice, when necessary,” Clemens said. “But he’s also done things like taking a guy out to dinner. I’ve heard guys in the locker room say, ‘Yeah, Schotty did this. And it really meant a lot to me. He had me over to his house.’

“Yeah, he yells. Find a coach that doesn’t. But he’s not that quintessential coach that he only thing he does is yell.

“Brian understands how to get players in positions to make plays,” Clemens added.

“It all starts with the trigger guy, Russell Wilson. He’ll try to maximize his talents and what he does well.”

New Seahawks offensive line coach Mike Solari, left, talks with new offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer (center) with coach Pete Carroll in the background during rookie minicamp at the Virginia Mason Athletic Center in Renton last month. Joshua Bessex/The News Tribune

Schottenheimer's been doing this for 17 years as an assistant with quarterbacks and offenses. He's a football lifer, the son of longtime NFL coach Marty Schottenheimer. Brian has stressed fundamentals with some of the better quarterbacks in the league, ones with far more household names than McGough and Williams.

“Great guy, but even better coach," said McGough, the rookie from Florida International . "He has coached Drew Brees at the start of his career, Philip Rivers at the start of his career, Andrew Luck. There are a lot of good quarterbacks that have come from under him.

"I am very excited to get to work with him."

Later in Saturday's practice Schottenheimer gave Troy Williams, one of 46 players here this weekend on a tryout basis, another of Seattle's lengthy play calls. The former University of Washington and Utah quarterback walked in the huddle and appeared to be having problems getting all the words of the call out correctly. Schottenheimer stepped into the huddle, stood shoulder to shoulder with Williams, and helped him with the verbiage.

"Brian is very active on the field," Carroll said, almost in deadpan.

"And because he’s involved in the quarterbacks, he’s very much in tune with everything that’s going on and right in the center of the action, which is good. It’s exciting to see that.”

It's exactly what Carroll wanted to see in his coaching changes.

Through two days of this rookie minicamp that followed a week of on-the-field workouts with the veterans in the team's offseason training program, the difference between Schottenheimer and predecessor Darrell Bevell is noticeable.

Bevell, the offense's coordinator from 2011 until January, was more studious and quiet in manner and demeanor on the practice field. Though the former Wisconsin quarterback would often give spontaneous high fives and laughs for big plays. Bevell chose to coach between plays, and mostly in measured conversations. He was more of a coordinator in the true sense of the word, overseeing the offense. The particulars and fundamentals of quarterbacking was primarily the job of QB coach Carl Smith.

That was by Carroll's unique design. Bevell was the offensive coordinator in title, but in practice he shared game-planning and even some play calling with offensive line coach Tom Cable, who doubled as the run-game coordinator. Smith was the third assistant that coached and planned with Wilson and the quarterbacks.

Now, Schottenheimer is the man. The former University of Florida quarterback is essentially the QBs coach, absolutely into the weeds of the position. Yes, Dave Canales moved from wide receivers coach into the title of quarterback coach this offseason. But Schottenheimer is the QBs' man.

Smith, who had been the quarterbacks coach since 2011, has moved to a reduced role officially titled associate head coach.

By all appearances so far, Schotteheimer will call all Wilson's plays, passes and runs. New offensive line coach Mike Solari will be just that, a veteran line coach. Wilson will have a more consistent and streamlined message and messenger this year — from the mechanics of quarterbacking through the plays he's running — than he got in the Seahawks' unusually compartmentalized coaching arrangement of the past seven seasons, when they often had the largest staff in the league.

Of course, it's going to take this spring and summer for Wilson to get used to his first NFL coordinator other than Bevell. That's what organized team activities and the veteran minicamp in mid-June, plus training camp that begins in late July, are for.

Carroll, 66, is already feeling the difference of having Schottenheimer and Solari as his most prominent assistants on offense. Friday, early in the first practice of rookie minicamp, the assistants didn't do a drill as the veteran head man prefers. Carroll later joked how Solari, a veteran of 31 seasons as an NFL assistant, must have "to get 35 years of experience before you can really get it all right" on drills.

“Yeah, there’s a newness there. I catch myself scrambling around with some reminders on things that just come up in the structure of practice — how we handle when a guy fumbles or we jump offsides — little things like that," Carroll said. "You try to cover everything, but then still things pop up, so there is still newness.

"But it brings a freshness and an excitement and energy about it that we’re fortunate to be in the middle of.”

It's exactly why Carroll made the changes.