Fixing red zone problems 1 of Seattle's priorities
RENTON, Wash. (AP) Of all the issues that cropped up during the Seattle Seahawks' 4-4 start, their inability to score touchdowns in the red zone ranked near the top.
With the addition of Jimmy Graham, an already good red zone offense was supposed to get even more difficult to stop inside the opponents' 20-yard line.
But it hasn't happened and Seattle has tumbled near the bottom of the league when it comes to red zone efficiency.
''It's really important. If we're scoring from a long ways out, I'm OK. If we're driving the ball down there, we've got to get in the end zone, get our touchdowns,'' Seattle coach Pete Carroll said.
''It's a great area of focus for us and an area for us to improve. That will follow along with our third down execution too, but we've just got to get in the end zone.''
Seattle is tied for last in the NFL in red zone possessions with just 17 drives inside the opponents' 20 through eight games.
The Seahawks are last by a wide margin with just five red zone touchdowns and are just one of three teams without double-digit TDs. And when they get those opportunities, the plays being called aren't working. The Seahawks are averaging 1.94 yards per play.
Now compare those numbers with what the Seahawks did a year ago. Seattle ranked 10th in the league with 31 red zone touchdowns on 60 possessions and averaged more than 3 yards per play.
''It first starts with me. I have to do a better job,'' Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson said. ''I have to find ways to get the ball to the right guy and making sure that we find ways to stick it in the end zone in whatever way.''
The expectation was those numbers that had Seattle in the upper half of the league last season were going to improve with the addition of Graham. Last season with New Orleans, Graham was tied for eighth in the NFL with 12 red zone receptions and nine of those going for touchdowns.
This season, Graham has three receptions in the red zone and one touchdown.
''We want touchdowns. We want to get those touchdowns, and he can do that,'' Carroll said. ''He's averaged nine, 10, 11 or something, 10 touchdowns a year. It's a long year. A lot of games left. We'll see how it goes.''
Beyond just the red zone, one of Seattle's biggest offensive problems has been third downs and extending drives to even have the chance at running plays inside the 20.
Seattle offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell used the example of Seattle's last game against Dallas to point out the inconsistency. Seattle opened the game with a 12-play, 72-yard drive that ended at the Dallas 8, had four first downs and resulted in a field goal.
They closed the game in similar fashion with a 17-play, 79-yard drive that used up more than 5 minutes, included six first downs and again resulted in a short field goal from Steven Hauschka that provided the winning points.
In between those two drives, Seattle had seven total possessions that resulted in four three-and-outs, nine total first downs and just seven points. Seattle is converting 37.6 percent of its third downs. Last season it was 42.5 percent.
''The beginning of the Dallas game, the end of the Dallas game, we had just a great job of moving the ball and holding it for long periods of time, converting on third downs,'' Bevell said.
''In the middle there, where was it? Being able to do that on a more consistent basis, I think will help us.''
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