First of all, Mora already has proven he can coach. He is one of only two new head coaches who has NFL head coaching experience, and the only one with a winning record.
And he has been where Smith, Harbaugh and Sparano were last season.
In 2004, Mora took over a Falcons team that had finished 5-11 and in last place in the NFC South. He turned the team around, going 11-5, winning the division and making it to the conference championship game before losing to the Eagles.
Mora has been influenced by some wise coaches, including Don James, Don Coryell, Bill Walsh, Dan Henning, Mike Holmgren, Gunther Cunningham and his father, Jim Mora. He is proven as a defensive mind, and he has good people skills. The word is he ran into trouble in Atlanta because he was too much of a “player’s coach,” and he also might have been a little too loose with his lips.
But Mora is the type who will learn from his mistakes in Atlanta and become a better head coach on his second go-round. He has brought a plan and a passion to Seattle that is championship-caliber.
And Mora will benefit from being in an enviable situation. For starters, he has an outstanding boss in Tim Ruskell, and a front office that will be supportive and have his back.
Mora’s situation is unique in that he has been with the team for the last year as the secondary coach and assistant head coach. He subsequently knows the Seahawks better than any other new head coach knows his team. And he already has made changes that some of the other new head coaches won’t be able to make until 2010 as a result.
And even though the Seahawks were a 4-12 team a year ago, it’s not as if the roster is without talent. There were extenuating circumstances that led to that record, including significant injuries to virtually every player who held a meaningful role in the passing game. If the Hawks are healthier this season, they will be better — considerably better.
Don’t forget, in the five seasons before 2008, the Seahawks never had a losing record, and they won 64 percent of their games. The 2009 version isn’t that much different from the team that was so good for so long.
Quarterback Matt Hasselbeck has been the lynchpin of this team, and he’s healthy again after missing nine games last season. And he finally should have a reliable group of targets to throw to, including free agent pickup T.J. Houshmandzedeh, Nate Burleson, Deion Branch and John Carlson.
The defense, with a strong group of linebackers, should complement Hasselbeck’s offense quite nicely. Look for bounce-back years from Lofa Tatupu and Patrick Kerney, and newly acquired Colin Cole, Aaron Curry and Ken Lucas should help.