Looking Ahead by Looking Behind

This was part of a chat with KC Joyner on Espn the other day…

Steve (Wa): Do you think it was smart of the Seahawks to annouce Mora as the new coach already?

SportsNation KC Joyner: It’s not a matter of whether or not the early announcement is good for them. I just don’t think Mora is the right coach for that team. He coaches on emotion and will be taking over a talented team that doesn’t play up to its talent level often enough. What they need is a coach who can get them to play more consistently but consistency isn’t Mora’s strength (just look at his Falcons’ teams up and down performances).

So I thought this would be an interesting topic to discuss. Is Mora the right coach??? I think it is safe to say everybody has an early opinion on this, but most of us are probably basing them on a gut feeling. So lets look at how Mora’s teams preformed over the 3 years he was there, and other coaches who are in their 2nd jobs are preforming.

2004- Atl- Everybody remembers this year. NFC Championship game against Philly. They crushed the Lambs after we lost for the third time and at home (GOD DAMMIT!) in the playoffs.
Lets look at how the team preformed.

Passing Rushing
Pts Yds Ply Y/P 1stD Cmp Att Yds TD Int NY/A 1stD Att Yds TD Y/A 1stD TO FL 1stPy
Team Offense 340 5084 969 5.2 284 217 395 2412 15 16 5.4 120 524 2672 20 5.1 133 30 14 31
Team Defense 337 5207 999 5.2 513 328 517 3526 19 19 6.2 183 434 1681 20 3.9 310 32 13 20
Lg Rank Offense 16 20 19 31 30 28 14 26 5 1 3 1 22 25
Lg Rank Defense 14 14 19 19 22 11 9 16 12 8 29 10 11 9

This was obviously a very run oriented team. 31st in passes attempted. 1st in rushing yards. They obviously had a QB much more interested in running than the Hawks will have. He was their second leading rusher that year. Whenever a team dominates the league in a category, it is combination of players and schemes. This is true for a horrendous result as well. The D was good not great, they stopped the run a little better than they stopped the pass, which is a bit surprising considering Mora’s work w/ our dbs.

They played pretty consistently (2 bad games, 56-1o @ KC and loss to Det) If I recall they had clinched a bye before losing to NO and SEA in the last two games.

2005–What happened??? They started the year 7-1 with the only loss to NE by 3 points. Then came an awful second half to finish 8-8 and miss out on the playoffs. Here are the #’s

Pts Yds Ply Y/P 1stD Cmp Att Yds TD Int NY/A 1stD Att Yds TD Y/A 1stD TO FL 1stPy
Team Offense 351 5225 1021 5.1 313 247 451 2679 19 13 5.5 149 531 2546 17 4.8 139 29 16 25
Team Defense 341 5200 1001 5.2 516 320 526 3137 18 16 5.6 167 438 2063 18 4.7 319 29 13 30
Lg Rank Offense 14 12 11 27 27 19 7 24 3 1 8 1 19 28
Lg Rank Defense 18 22 23 19 14 9 14 9 16 26 25 31 14 10

Very similar stats, even the turnover differential was the same ranking as the year before. They one thing i see different is that the rushing D dropped off dramatically in yds allowed. That could be the reason they suffered so bad in the second half, a tired D. Or as is suggested in this article, the feeling was that the league had begun to figure out how to defend Michael Vick. This was the year he really began taking heat from fans and media. We can question if this was Mora’s coaching?, or did Vick’s early success almost make him uncoachable. I believe that this was the year that Mora committed his first big boo boo. He was seen on the phone on the sideline checking to see if they could get the final wild card during the game.

2006–Mora’s final year. Obviously, this was the year he talked to Hugh at KRJ and caused quite a stir. This was late in the season, during which time they lost 7 or their last 9 and fell from 1st all the way to 3rd in their division. Here are the #’s

Passing Rushing
Pts Yds Ply Y/P 1stD Cmp Att Yds TD Int NY/A 1stD Att Yds TD Y/A 1stD TO FL 1stPy
Team Offense 292 5310 1000 5.3 287 222 416 2371 21 15 5.1 133 537 2939 9 5.5 134 20 5 20
Team Defense 328 5325 994 5.4 529 321 515 3668 20 12 6.6 183 442 1657 14 3.7 313 26 14 33
Lg Rank Offense 25 12 20 32 32 13 14 31 1 1 23 1 5 1
Lg Rank Defense 15 22 28 17 29 14 25 31 12 9 17 6 21 8

Looking at the numbers, the Falcons maintained their #1 rushing attack and dramatically improved their rush defense. They even moved way up the ranks in turnover differential, which is a surprise considering Mike Vick’s rep for throwing bad picks. Maybe the were just bad passes as the Falcons finished dead last in passing offense. Obviously, when there is such a lousy result it is a combination of factors. Clearly there was a disconnect with Michael Vick and the coaching staff. Also, they had young WR’s who were not developing at all. It is very hard to get WR’s to contribute immediately in a WCO. Overall this team had great team stats, one has to wonder if the sub .500 record was because the person who touched the ball the most, Michael Vick, was not on top of his game.

If you look at the teams record in the second halves, one would conclude Mora’s teams in year 2 and 3 were not a consistent bunch. I would argue that they were consistent. They finished first in rushing every year. They ranked 12 in offense in both those year. Their turnover margin was never negative and was in the top half of the league in all three years. What was inconsistent was the passing game. Lets be real, Michael Vick. Was Mora at fault for not coaching Vick better. Sure. But lets ask ourselves, with the info we have now, do we think he was really putting in a full effort? I would say the fact that the majority of the team performed capably but was undermined by the fact that the man who touched the ball most often was horribly inconsistent.

In Seattle, Mora will not have this problem!!! At least not in his first few years. Hasselbeck has had some ups and downs, but he will be a much steadier player/leader than Vick. Now ask yourself if this extends beyond QB. It does. Seattle has created a culture of “character guys” who work hard and self motivate. This is the type of player that should respond very well to a ra ra coach like Mora. Hypothetically, if the Hawks were to win one for Big Show in 08′, the change in personality may be a huge benefit that could take them all the way back, hypothetically.

This is a really long post already, so i will come back later and take a look at how coaches do their second time around. I am sure my loyal readers are just brimming with anticipation. In the mean time, discuss, is Mora JR the right guy??