With the NFL season down to just three remaining games and Brian Schottenheimer in as offensive coordinator of the Seattle Seahawks to replace the fired Darrell Bevell, many fans are still not happy with the Hawks offensive coaching staff. Schottenheimer has several years of experience as an offensive coordinator for both the New York Jets and then St. Louis, but now Los Angeles Rams, and his past seems to indicate a preference for the style of football Pete wants – a physical running game that punishes the opponent.
Many Seattle fans would love for the team to adopt a more pass oriented approach. Carroll seems old school, however, and seeming at times to believe that the role of the offense is to first and foremost protect the ball, and secondly to score, which is seen in the team’s emphasis on ball security and preventing turnovers. Many fans see this as outdated and would love to see a more aggressive aerial attack taking advantage of the skills of Russell Wilson, who is unquestionably the best quarterback in franchise history. However, Carroll’s insistence on building the team around the running game may grow out of the simple fact that running may be less susceptible to the effects of weather compared to throwing the ball.
Of the four divisional round games, the only game that was played in temperatures above freezing was the game between the Minnesota Vikings and New Orleans Saints that took place inside a climate controlled dome. The temperature for the game between the Philadelphia Eagles and the Atlanta Falcons was right at freezing, 32 degrees, at kickoff and only got colder as the game went on. In Foxboro the temperature at kickoff was in the mid-20s, and had dropped into the teens by the time the game finished. And the matchup between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Jacksonville Jaguars saw high temperature in the teens.
The same is also true for the conference championships, which will take in Philadelphia, PA and Foxboro, MA. The forecast for the early game when the New England Patriots host the Jaguars is for temperatures in the mid 40s at kickoff, dropping into the upper 30s by the time the game ends. Likewise, in Philadelphia, the temperature at kickoff is expected to be in the mid 40s, with a slight chance for rain during the course of the game. Thus, as is often the case, teams playing in the postseason need to be prepared to play, and play well, in cold weather games, and the cold has the potential to dampen the ability of a team to move the ball through the air.
Following along with this logic, it is also a fact that no dome team has ever won the Super Bowl after playing any of its postseason games in temperatures below sixty degrees. The 1999 St. Louis Rams and 2009 New Orleans Saints both held home field advantage throughout the postseason the years they won the Lombardi. The only other dome team to win the Super Bowl, the 2006 Indianapolis Colts were lucky enough to play in unseasonably warm weather for a January in Baltimore, with temperatures in the 60s for the divisional round matchup between the two teams. That may have contributed to the Colts upset of the two seeded Baltimore Ravens in the divisional round. Coupling that with the Patriots upset of the 2006 AFC top seed, the San Diego Chargers, the Colts then hosted the AFC Championship Game as the number three seed.
Whether weather plays any part of Pete Carroll’s commitment to the ground game, I have no idea. However, the simple fact of the matter is that half of the playoff games in the divisional round and the conference championship rounds will have been played in temperatures below freezing, and five of the six games will have been played in temperatures below 50 degrees. Add in that Russell has been less than spectacular in games that have been played in inclimate weather throughout his career, whether in the cold, the wind or the rain, and it would make perfect sense if this plays at least a part of the reasoning behind Carroll’s strategy.
Thus, while many fans love the offensive fireworks that can light up the scoreboard, Pete Carroll appears to have his preferences set on a style of football that may have a higher likelihood of success come the postseason, if for no other reason than the changing of the seasons.