Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

21 Dec 2009

Here's An Injury That Nearly Caused Mora To Snap

As noted in Audibles, Seahawks coach Jim Mora was forced to use 170-pound backup cornerback Kelly Jennings as a long snapper against Tampa Bay yesterday. Mora takes a subtle shot at outgoing general manager Tim Ruskell for not putting a backup long snapper on the team, but that doesn't explain why he was holding tryouts on the sideline -- you've been coaching this team all year and you never had a Plan B for this scenario?

Posted by: Vincent Verhei on 21 Dec 2009

48 comments, Last at 22 Dec 2009, 5:39pm by Bill


by Mike B. In Va :: Mon, 12/21/2009 - 2:40pm

Why have plan B? He already had plan A: Throw the ex-GM under the bus!

by Doug Farrar :: Mon, 12/21/2009 - 2:43pm

Willie Dixon was wrong, Seahawks -- I CAN quit you.

by robbbbbb (not verified) :: Mon, 12/21/2009 - 4:28pm

Y'know, it wasn't all that long ago that Bill Bavasi had Mariner fans thinking this way. It's amazing what a change in front-office management can do to a fan's attitude about the team.

Don't give up yet, Doug! Our team has a chance to right the ship this offseason!

by Doug Farrar :: Mon, 12/21/2009 - 5:18pm

Yeah, but imagine if Lincoln and Armstrong had told Jack Z. that he'd be stuck with John McLaren on a "no-matter-what" basis. I really believe that the people in charge of the Seahawks believe in Mora and want to give him another year. That's going to be a sticking point with any good GM candidate -- not only being stuck with a coach, but being stuck with THAT coach.

By the time the M's hired Jack, they were desperate enough to cede control. They'd learned their lesson. The Seahawks are more like the M's in 2003-2005 -- a bunch of bean-counters grown fat and arrogant on the accomplishments of others. I think this is going to take a while to solve.

by ABW (not verified) :: Mon, 12/21/2009 - 2:54pm

I don't see how this has to do with roster construction at all. I don't think anyone carries an extra long-snapper just to have a backup.

This seems like it is entirely on the coaches to me. I really don't know how the coaches don't have at least some idea who can long-snap on the roster. Take half an hour during training camp, tell everyone on the roster to come over and do one long snap. The guy who does it best, he's the backup long snapper that season. You probably never have him practice it, but just know who is supposed to do it ahead of time.

by Negative (not verified) :: Mon, 12/21/2009 - 3:05pm

Even Madden has the option for a back up long snapper.

by Stretch (not verified) :: Mon, 12/21/2009 - 3:09pm

Exactly. Hell, it is three deep in Madden. Electronic Arts knows who your next best long snapper is, why don't you?

by wlerj (not verified) :: Mon, 12/21/2009 - 3:24pm

Sadly, it doesn't seem to know who my third best backup offensive lineman is; if I'm rolling seven deep in decent OL and get three injuries, it loves to run the punter out there o_O

by Tim Gerheim :: Mon, 12/21/2009 - 4:42pm

Too bad nobody in the Seahawks coaches' box had a copy of Madden handy during the game.

by Adam B. :: Mon, 12/21/2009 - 3:10pm

Reminds me of the Eagles game four years ago when Akers was hurt early, forcing Mark Simoneau to attempt an extra point and Mike Bartrum to kick off.

by Kevin from Philly :: Mon, 12/21/2009 - 4:54pm

Pretty sure Simoneau made it, too.

by Drunkmonkey :: Mon, 12/21/2009 - 5:57pm

"...forcing linebacker Mark Simoneau to try one extra point - it was blocked - and third-string tight end Mike Bartrum had to kick off."

by Trogdor :: Mon, 12/21/2009 - 3:11pm

I can understand using one roster spot exclusively for long snapping - it is a pretty important role, most noticeable when something goes wrong, and a team might not want to risk getting him injured doing other stuff. It's at least as defensible as using a roster spot for a kickoff specialist.

But I can't imagine a team actually using two roster spots on long snapping. Have your main guy, then have your last TE or FB or lineman learn how to do it just in case. Anyone who's barely clinging for a roster spot should jump at the chance. Then if the main guy gets hurt, you have a week to get your backup ready to take over full time, or sign someone to fill in.

As long as it's not Trey Junkin.

by coltrane23 :: Mon, 12/21/2009 - 3:30pm

Ditto. One can pick on Ruskell for a lot of things, but not having a backup long snapper isn't one of them.

You have a lot of large men on your roster. You're telling me that NONE of them could be developed into a serviceable LS just in case? I know that guys who are primarily long snappers do have higher-than-average ability in this particular area, but are you really saying you couldn't find anyone on your roster remotely competent at this skill this late in the season?

Thankfully, the fact that Holmgren has declined the 'Hawks "offer" bodes well for the prospect of replacing Mora. As the season has worn on, he's worn on my nerves. I wasn't expecting a Super Bowl this year, but I was hoping for a far better deployment of the available talent. I was also expecting that, given the available talent, the 'Hawks would have been more competitive this season. Not necessarily playoff-bound, but not getting blown out at home to a previously 1-12 team seemed like a reasonable expectation.

by Andrew B :: Mon, 12/21/2009 - 5:06pm

A back-up long snapper is generally a guy who plays another position.

For example, on the Eagles, Jon Dorenbos is the Long Snapper. Darren Howard, a back-up Defensive End/Defensive Tackle is the official back-up long-snapper on the depth chart. Mike McGlynn (back-up Guard/Center), Brent Celek (Tight End), and Nick Cole (back-up Guard/Center) are all thought to be capable of being back-ups as well and have varying degrees of training camp practice.

The Original Andrew

by tuluse :: Mon, 12/21/2009 - 8:30pm

The problem wasn't that the team wasn't keeping two long snappers, but that Mora had no idea who on the team could even long snap if the main guy went down.

by coltrane23 :: Mon, 12/21/2009 - 11:25pm

That was my point: you don't need to carry two long snappers, that'd just be silly. But you do need to identify large-ish guys on your roster (sorry, CBs don't count) who can long snap reasonably well in a game if called upon because the regular guy gets injured. Surely, of all the OLs, TEs, DLs, and maybe even LBs on your team, someone can snap the ball between his legs reasonably accurately if he has to.

by alexbond :: Mon, 12/21/2009 - 3:14pm

Is Jim Mora going to realize at some point that just ragging on somebody else after every loss is, in fact, making him more likely to be fired? It just seems childish. Was he like this at Atlanta?

by The Ninjalectual :: Mon, 12/21/2009 - 4:20pm

Not a Hawks fan, but doesn't Mora have a rep for taking personal credit for wins, and blaming his players for losses?

"Just look at that pumpkin."
-John Madden, looking at the moon.

by Doug Farrar :: Mon, 12/21/2009 - 4:43pm

Yup. At least when his dad threw people under the bus, he went with them.

by Phil O'sopher (not verified) :: Mon, 12/21/2009 - 9:08pm

Jim Mora Sr. was the best meltdown interview of all time. Only Dennis Green (once in a lifetime meltdown) and Herm "You play to win the game" could even be competive w/ the Awesomeness of Mora Sr.

"Plaaaaayyoooffffs???!?!???!? Play oooooooffffs???! We'll be lucky to win another game"

"We didn't do didly poo. We sucked. Offense sucked. Defense sucked. We sucked"

Mora Jr should bring his Dad in to do all post game interviews ASAP. ESPN every week. Lots of media coverage and more legendary coaching meltdowns for us all to watch. That would be great.

by BucNasty :: Mon, 12/21/2009 - 11:42pm

Even still, he's grown on me quite a bit. His voice is kind of annoying, but I typically agree with what he has to say whenever he's brought into the studio to give opinions.

by R O (not verified) :: Mon, 12/21/2009 - 5:18pm

The funny thing is, I don't think he was like that in Atlanta.

Now, I live in an Atl suburb but I didn't catch a lot of Falcons' press conferences so I could be wrong.

But on the pre-game radio shows he seemed to be a pretty stand-up, player friendly coach (player friendly to a fault actually as it turned out).

Besides, in Atlanta he had a built in excuse for his losses. A lazy superstar QB named Vick or something. Since it would have been career suicide to throw the great MV under the bus, he was just a good soldier. And instead made retarded jokes about wanting to coach in Washington.

by Vincent Verhei :: Mon, 12/21/2009 - 5:28pm

Besides, in Atlanta he had a built in excuse for his losses. A lazy superstar QB named Vick or something. Since it would have been career suicide to throw the great MV under the bus, he was just a good soldier.

Explain to me how it would have been career suicide to use the media to motivate his quarterback to work harder. Bill Parcells comes immediately to mind, but I'm sure plenty of coaches have pulled this off. Mike Holmgren, come to think of it.

Mora always insisted there was nothing wrong with Vick as a football player or leader. He was always first in line to defend Vick's attitude and work habits, and would never admit to Vick doing anything poorly. Vick declined and got lazier under Mora, which to me sounds like the opposite of what a coach should be doing.

by R O (not verified) :: Mon, 12/21/2009 - 5:42pm

Normally I would agree with you. But the answer to your question is simple: Arther Blank. He was in Vick's hip pocket because Vick was making boatloads of money for him regardless of results on the field. Blank fired him for making a stupid comment on a radio show. He would have fired him twice as fast for daring to challenge the Golden Goose.

If you don't believe that, I can't believe you've spent much time around Atlanta.

by R O (not verified) :: Mon, 12/21/2009 - 5:46pm

In the end I guess I DO agree with you. Mora should have had the B*lls to deal with Vick better. But given the dynamic with Blank and Mora having the first HC job in his career can you REALLY blame him?

Probably, but I also think Mora could have learned some good lessons from that fiasco including expecting more from his franchise player. Maybe he's just overcorrecting past mistakes?

by C (not verified) :: Mon, 12/21/2009 - 6:02pm

Parcells has balls, Parcells had a name. Mora has no balls, and the only reason he has a name is because of his father. He's a terrible head coach.

by Joe T. :: Mon, 12/21/2009 - 3:43pm

A team coached by Jim Mora Jr imploding? Ya don't say!

by andrew :: Mon, 12/21/2009 - 4:11pm

Seahawks, call me. Will work for league minimum.

by Mr Shush :: Mon, 12/21/2009 - 9:38pm

Pay me 30k Sterling a year and let me claim my internet connection on expenses and I guarantee I'll do a better job of roster-building than the guy you have now from my flat in Ealing. Hell, even the exchange rate's in your favour. You know you want to.

by Rocco :: Mon, 12/21/2009 - 4:23pm

Steelers fans found out last year that the backup long snapper was James Harrison. Unfortunately, that experiment ended badly against the Giants.

It's a little surprising that Mora wouldn't have someone lined up on the team to long-snap in an emergency just in case there was an injury. Seems like something even a mediocre coach would think about.

by Anonymous Coward (not verified) :: Mon, 12/21/2009 - 4:52pm

The local radio said that Harrison would practice long snapping every week. I doubt backup to any specialist is something that's ignored by most teams.

by crack (not verified) :: Mon, 12/21/2009 - 4:30pm

This comment from the PI site sums it up best:

Posted by Al Martin's Wife at 12/20/09 7:38 p.m.

Who is our back-up head coach?

by Kevin from Philly :: Mon, 12/21/2009 - 4:56pm

I thought that was Holmgren. No?

by BucNasty :: Mon, 12/21/2009 - 5:38pm

This is the same guy who had to make a phone call upstairs to work out his own team's playoff tiebreaker scenarios in the event of a tie near the end of overtime in a week 16 game. He does not seem to be blessed with the gift of foresight.

by turbohappy (not verified) :: Mon, 12/21/2009 - 5:44pm

Did you read the article? It appears that they did have a Plan B and that he was it, not that it was random.

From the article:

Jennings said he long-snapped in his high school days in Florida and has toyed around with it in practice, enough so to draw the attention of special teams coach Bruce DeHaven.
"He told me if Kevin ever got hurt, you may be the guy to go in," Jennings said. "And it ended up happening today."

And later on:

Actually, Jennings said fullback Owen Schmitt and linebacker Will Herring are the likely emergency long snappers on field goals.
"You have to really be stout to get in there for field goals," he said. "I don't think I'm the guy for that."

So it seems the special teams coaches knew what was up, the head coach just wasn't in the loop.

by deep64blue :: Mon, 12/21/2009 - 6:04pm

Saying "you MAY be the guy to go in" is hardly having a coherent plan is it?

by Sifter :: Mon, 12/21/2009 - 6:24pm

And the plan was unknown to the head coach, even in the post game interview it seemed. Surely between the time Houser went down and the post-game interview, DeHaven might have mentioned to Mora that 'yeah Kelly's been our reserve guy all along'. It doesn't seem like that happened.

by Sifter :: Mon, 12/21/2009 - 5:44pm

Surely this is the special teams coaches fault? Mora should know about it too, but the ST coach should know who can long snap or not - that's his job.

by tuluse :: Mon, 12/21/2009 - 8:34pm

Yes it is the special teams coaches fault. However a total lack of communication like this has to fall on the head coach. I mean did Mora shouldn't really have had anything to do with it. He should have just told his special teams coach to put the next guy in.

by Paul R :: Mon, 12/21/2009 - 6:29pm

You know your team's in trouble when your coach starts speaking in iambic pentameter.

Goodness sakes, it is exasperation,
To believe that we could actually,
be at the point where our backup right corner,
is long-snapping for us.

by Paul R :: Mon, 12/21/2009 - 6:31pm

Of course, the game is called "foot" ball...

by Pat F. :: Mon, 12/21/2009 - 10:02pm

I have a policy against commenting when I have nothing to contribute to the thread topic, but for this I must make an exception:


by Mr Shush :: Mon, 12/21/2009 - 9:53pm

Hate to say it, but most of that is really not iambic. In iambic verse, the stresses fall on the even numbered syllables in each line.

by Paul R :: Mon, 12/21/2009 - 11:51pm

I know, but I wanted to give the guy a break. He's got enough problems without me criticizing his poor poetry skills.

by IsraelP (not verified) :: Tue, 12/22/2009 - 7:38am

Greg Warren tore his ACL on the game winning PAT Sunday. I don't know who would have filled in after the Mike Wallace catch, had the injury occurred on the previous kick. That would likely have forced a two point attempt, making a memorable game much moreso.

by Keasley (not verified) :: Tue, 12/22/2009 - 2:51pm

It may be easy to find guys who can be long snappers. But the team is still looking for long snappers who are also dirtbags

by Bill (not verified) :: Tue, 12/22/2009 - 5:39pm

Was this on a punt or field goal? If it were a punt, why not have a QB lineup behind center, then lateral it back to the punter?