Before Jim Mora addresses the media today, he may need to spend a good amount of time clearing his throat of the cobwebs.
Maybe Mike Holmgren has left a few of his favorite pre-speech lozenges around that Mora can use to lubricate the pipes.
Mora hasn’t been a complete phantom in his two seasons as an assistant coach with the Seattle Seahawks, but he’s certainly going to have to elevate his public profile – starting today – as he faces his first press conference as head coach.
Until now, it seems as if there’s always been some things that he’s been reluctant to discuss. When he first came to town as secondary coach, he wasn’t interested in dwelling on the circumstances of his firing as head coach of the Atlanta Falcons.
And for the past year, since being named the successor to Mike Holmgren, Mora has respectfully stayed in the wings as mostly an off-screen presence.
Consider that an example of wisdom rather than avoidance.
If anybody learned the value of being circumspect, it had to be Mora, who managed to talk his way out of a coaching job in Atlanta when his off-the-cuff radio comments about the appeal of the University of Washington job understandably irked ownership of the Falcons.
And he didn’t have much in the way of answers for the problems the Seahawks had this past season, since his secondary performed about on par with the rest of the team – rather poorly.
From the sidelines, we’ve seen Mora as a vocal and energetic coach. But now he’s got to sit behind the microphone. We may wonder if the public relations staff has scripted his first 15 answers.
Today, he’ll be asked to explain the staff hirings that have taken place the past couple weeks.
On any team, if change brings a sense of renewal and revitalization, there’s a positive psychological bounce. The Seahawks’ 4-12 record last season speaks enough for the need.
What Mora, and GM Tim Ruskell, have done so far amounts to a definite youth movement. Coordinators John Marshall and Gil Haskell – with 55 years of NFL experience – have been replaced.
On the surface, at least, the hirings have not caused observers to go “wow.”
The new defensive coordinator, Casey “Gus” Bradley, was an assistant at North Dakota State as recently as 2005. The past two seasons, he’s been the linebackers coach at Tampa Bay. Word is that he’s detail-oriented and innovative.
The new defensive line coach, Dan Quinn, worked on the staff with Mora in San Francisco. He was with the New York Jets the past two seasons.
New linebackers coach Joe Barry also worked with Mora in San Francisco. He most recently was defensive coordinator for the 0-16 Lions, a team that gave up an average of 32 points a game.
OK. Well. Welcome to Seattle, guys.
Fact is, since Mora also will handle the game-day defensive calls, those hirings could be viewed as less impactful than that of offensive coordinator, where the Hawks added Greg Knapp.
Knapp had been with Oakland, guiding an offense that finished 29th in the NFL. However, Knapp had considerable success running offenses in San Francisco and Atlanta, and I firmly believe that anything that happens while on a staff in Oakland should not be included on a coach’s permanent record.
Critics might decry the inbreeding of the staff, as it takes on a Mora/Ruskell, Tampa/Atlanta feel. But that’s how it is in the NFL: They hire people with whom they’re familiar. Common practice.
How they’ll do come game day is anybody’s guess. I suspect next season’s fortunes will have more to do with the health of Matt Hasselbeck and Walter Jones and Patrick Kerney than who just got hired as defensive line coach.
Mora is an energetic guy with a real passion for the game. He obviously loves the community and the challenge.
And he’s different. Holmgren himself commented that, after a while, players need to hear new voices.
The Seahawks are going to have a lot of them.
It will be fair for all of us to give them time to clear their throats.
Dave Boling: 253-597-8440