Fixing the Seahawks offense starts with the run game
RENTON, Wash. (AP) Ask around and you'll find differing opinions of what's wrong with the Seattle Seahawks' offense.
Coach Pete Carroll believes the bulk of the struggles stem from a run game that's not getting enough opportunities. Wide receiver Doug Baldwin thinks it's a mixture of the run game struggling and some players still learning new positions. Offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell believes there's been too many negative plays - namely penalties - that have gotten Seattle out of manageable down-and-distance situations.
And ever positive Russell Wilson thinks the Seahawks are on the verge of breaking out offensively.
In a way, they're all correct. A number of issues have combined to leave Seattle's offense as the biggest issue heading into Monday night's game against Buffalo. The Seahawks have just one offensive touchdown in the last nine quarters. Their run game - once the envy of the league - ranks in the bottom-third of the NFL. And Wilson has just five touchdown passes, none coming in the past three games.
''The issues are a little different. They're always a little different,'' Carroll said this week. ''They're a little different than they have been over the years, but I'm counting on that. I'm counting on things taking a turn here and things picking back up for all the obvious reasons.''
Circumstances have obviously dictated some of the problems with Seattle's offense - namely injuries. But the Seahawks find themselves in an unfamiliar position because one of their staples during their four-year run of success has become a glaring weakness.
When Marshawn Lynch was around, no one questioned the Seahawks run game. Even last year when Lynch was dealing with injuries and Thomas Rawls filled in, Seattle managed to rank in the top five in the league most of the season running the ball.
That's why the drop this year has been so impactful. Seattle is averaging 81.4 yards rushing per game. The Seahawks have gone three straight games without rushing for 100 yards as a team, the longest streak since late in the 2010 season. The last time Seattle failed to rush for 100 yards as a team in four straight games was the 2000 season, on a team that included Ricky Waters and Shaun Alexander in the backfield.
The Seahawks are averaging 3.2 yards per carry, which would be the lowest in franchise history if it continues.
''The problem for us right now when you look at the big picture, is you need to find tempo and rhythm and we don't have that right now,'' offensive line/assistant head coach Tom Cable said. ''Our issue right now is being able to pick up our pace a little bit, staying on schedule as we've always done. We're just not really sharp at that right now and that's collectively the group.''
The biggest aspect missing from the run game has been the threat of Wilson as a ball carrier. He has just 44 yards rushing, limited to staying in the pocket for a few weeks due to ankle and knee injuries that Wilson believes he's finally over.
''(Carl Smith), my quarterback coach, said he was going to put a shock collar on me anytime I left the pocket the first few weeks just to be smart,'' Wilson said.
But the trickle-down is creeping into the pass game as well. Baldwin said he's starting to see different coverages in the pass game with defenses keeping two safeties deep knowing they don't need to have one cheat up to help in in run defense.
''It makes it a little bit more difficult on our passing game because you have an extra defender back there but we recognize that,'' Baldwin said. ''We understand there is still some growth that needs to go on in terms of our running game and eventually we'll get that developed and we will be all right.''