- TOP PLAYERSOffensePABLO S. TORRE | August 20, 2012
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Seahawk coach gets radical Seattle's Chuck Knox has come to be known as a conservative, three-yards-and-a-swatch-of-Astro Turf coach with no imagination. You know, Ground Chuck. "It's so convenient to put a label on someone," says Knox. "But I change. In 1984, we lost Curt Warner in the first half of the first game. We started throwing the football, and we went 12-4."
In the off-season, Knox and his staff took a hard look at their team, which in '89 finished 7-9, scored only 15 points a game and was particularly weak at linebacker. They decided to add the run-and-shoot to the offense, intending to use it about 30% of the time, and to switch from a 3-4 defense to a 4-3.
So far, the run-and-shoot—Knox calls it the Spread—is agreeable to everyone on the team. "The good thing is we're not going to it full-time, so lots of times defenses aren't going to know when we're in it and when we're not," says quarterback Dave Krieg. "They're not going to know who to substitute."
One other note on Knox. He's one of six NFL coaches who in the off-season entered a weight-loss competition sponsored by a diet-drink company. Knox wrote down a diet game plan, with weekly goals, and he locked out his old eating habits. "I can't go cruise control on anything," he says. "If I play gin, football, anything—I want to win." He did. He lost 63 pounds.
NEW ARMOR FOR MARINO
John Sandusky began coaching NFL offensive linemen in 1963, with the Colts. Five guys who weren't alive then make up his most promising project yet in 15 years with the Dolphins. From left tackle to right, the players who make up the youngest offensive line in the league are 23,23, 24, 25 and 25 years old: respectively, rookie left tackle Richmond Webb (first-round draft pick), rookie left guard Keith Sims (second-round choice), second-year center Jeff Uhlenhake, third-year right guard Harry Galbreath and fourth-year right tackle Mark Dennis.
In the Dolphins' 25-year history, no rookie offensive lineman has started in the first game of a season, but coach Don Shula will start two on Sunday in New England. "The bad thing about a young line like this is it's going to make some errors," says Sandusky. "You don't have the veterans out there to help them and communicate with them. But the advantage is the kids will do things the way you teach them. If you're teaching the right things and they have ability, they ought to be successful."
Sandusky's biggest worry is the inexperience on the line's left side, which is so important in protecting quarterback Dan Marino, because that's where most topflight pass rushers pounce from. Sandusky used Webb and Sims together on nearly every preseason down, trying to force-feed them for the opener. They're massive enough—averaging 6'4" and 300 pounds—but are they good enough?
"We're just starting to get our chemistry down, and it could take maybe a year, to get confident with each other," says Sims. "But there are no excuses now. We've got to play well right away."
IT'S SHOW TIME, HERSCHEL