They were always going to run the ball. Check that: Under Pete Carroll, the Seahawks are always going to run the ball.
That’s not a bad thing.
Good football teams still run the ball effectively, even as the modern game bends more and more for passing offense, and Carroll made abundantly clear before the Monday night game against the New Orleans Saints what he wanted his offense to do:
Yep, run the ball.
He might as well have taken out a billboard advertisement outside Lumen Field: “Hey, Saints: We’re going to run the ball on (almost) every first down!”
And guess what? The plan did generally make sense, given that the Seahawks are without star QB Russell Wilson and given that they wanted to minimize the heat on backup Geno Smith.
You know what doesn’t make sense?
Playing keep-away from DK Metcalf.
Metcalf scored the Seahawks’ only touchdown in their 13-10 loss Monday night. That came in a terrific 84-yard pass from Smith in the first quarter.
“Exquisite play,” Carroll said. “Everything about it was perfect.”
After that, Metcalf was essentially a nonfactor for the Seahawks offense.
He wasn’t targeted again until the fourth quarter. Not once.
Metcalf finished with one more catch — an important one, for 12 yards, on third-and-5 in the fourth quarter — but that was it. Two catches on five targets.
“Obviously,” Smith said, “we want to get the ball to our playmakers. That’s No. 1, you know. DK is a great player. Tyler (Lockett) is a great player. Gerald (Everett) and all the guys. So we want to get the ball to those guys.
“To be honest with you, I can’t really pinpoint why it happened the way it did. That’s something that we’ve got to look at and correct, but it happened like that.”
Of their 23 first-down plays Monday night, the Seahawks gained a total of 52 yards. Most of those — quite predictably — were running plays.
The Seahawks, now 2-5, finished with a respectable 90 yards rushing on 28 carries, 3.2 yards per play. The Saints (4-2) had 94 yards on 31 carries (3.0 per rush).
But Seattle’s passing attack was largely absent. Take away Metcalf’s 84-yard touchdown, and Smith finished with 83 yards on his 11 other completions.
Sure, wind and rain during the expected “bomb cyclone” didn’t help anyone throw the ball Monday night.
“No excuses,” Smith said.
Lockett finished with just two catches (on three targets) for 12 yards. Everett, their top tight end, had three catches for 11 yards — and one costly taunting penalty in the second half.
Carroll said he had hoped to get Metcalf more involved.
“We didn’t run the ball as well as we wanted to,” Carroll said. “We stayed after it and kept trying it. I was hoping that we would pick it up more in the second half. … We needed to stay with it, and we did, but not as effectively as it needed to be. I wish we would’ve got more done off the run.”
The Saints, Carroll said, paid extra attention to Metcalf after his long touchdown reception, often playing a safety over the top in double coverage.
“That sent a little shock wave to them,” Carroll said. “They did everything they could to try keep him from getting the football.”
Metcalf did have a back-and-forth all night with Saints star cornerback Marshon Lattimore, who was twice hit with personal-foul penalties.
Metcalf did not meet with reporters after the game.
“It just shows how tough DK is,” running back Alex Collins said of his battles with Lattimore. “He’s a great wide receiver. He’s going to have a lot of guys challenge him and he’s not going to back down. … These guys, they’re trying to target him for a reason and try to get in his head to try to throw him off his game. I felt that it was great that he didn’t respond to the negativity — he just kept playing ball, and I’m proud of him for that.”