Seahawks are putting too much of their offense on Marshawn Lynch and need to trust rookie quarterback Russell Wilson to make more plays.
The Seahawks aren’t exactly running on fumes.
At least not yet.
But if there was a gauge for the engine temperature of Seattle’s offense, it would be edging toward red given the sheer number of carries for running back Marshawn Lynch and the lack of passing production.
Lynch ranks No. 2 in the league in carries, putting him on pace to set a franchise record that would be a very bad sign. That has nothing to do with Lynch’s ability, and it’s not even completely about his durability, either.
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If Lynch keeps getting this volume of carries, it would point to the probability that Seattle isn’t throwing the ball any more often than it has these first seven games, and that would be a problem.
Seattle is last in the league in pass attempts, a conscious decision coach Pete Carroll made in the hopes of not overwhelming rookie quarterback Russell Wilson.
“I’m trying to make sure we don’t go too far too fast and overload him,” Carroll said. “See if we can find a winning formula with that in mind. We’re right on it.”
Seattle is close, there’s no doubt about that. Six of its seven games have been decided by seven points or fewer. It has won three of those games, and lost three.
The Seahawks can keep playing this way. They have enough home games left they might actually finish with a winning record without ever getting more ambitious in the passing game.
Seattle is averaging 25 passes. No other team is averaging fewer than 28. Detroit is at the other end of the spectrum, averaging a league-high 46 passes.
And while the Seahawks are never going to adopt Detroit’s heave-and-hope approach, Seattle’s past two defeats should point to the danger of the formula it is currently using. The Seahawks ran the ball well enough to win both of those games, and instead they lost both.
Thursday in San Francisco, Lynch rushed for 103 yards against a 49ers defense that has allowed an opponent to rush for more than 100 yards three times in the past 44 regular-season games. Lynch is responsible for two of those performances.
Yet the Seahawks lost after an offensively hopeless second half in which they never got the ball outside their own 31 in the fourth quarter. That came three weeks after a game in which the Seahawks’ defense didn’t allow a touchdown and their offense rushed for 179 yards, yet they still lost at St. Louis.
Seattle can’t expect to run the ball much better than it has been through seven games. Lynch is 7 yards off the league’s rushing lead, and he hasn’t carried the ball this often in the first half of any season since he was a rookie in Buffalo in 2007.
Unless the Seahawks want to continue white-knuckling their way through the final nine games of the season, they’re going to have to start opening up the offense. That means putting a little more on the quarterback’s plate, something that Carroll alluded to Monday.
“He’s going to continue to improve to the point where we are really expecting to have a great second half of the season,” Carroll said. “We’re looking forward to it.”
Danny O’Neil: 206-464-2364 or firstname.lastname@example.org.