Seattle leads the NFL in scoring in the red zone heading into Sunday's game at Detroit. Offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer discussed that and more, including Rashaad Penny and the tailback rotation.
The Seahawks entered the bye on a high, winners of three of four, the offense finally becoming what coach Pete Carroll and first-year coordinator Brian Schottenheimer envisioned.
The bye week, Schottenheimer said, allowed him to take a little breath and “just kind of see the progress that we’ve made.’’
But the work begins anew Sunday at Detroit against a Lions team that is also surging a bit, also having won three of its past four.
As Schottenheimer talked to the media Thursday, here are five things that stood out:
RUNNING GAME, RUSSELL WILSON KEY TO RED ZONE SUCCESS
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Exciting the Seattle coaches as much as anything right now is the team’s success in the red zone — the Seahawks are No. 1 in the NFL this week having scored on 14 of 15 possessions inside the 20 (93.3), with 11 touchdowns (the only unsuccessful trip inside the red zone came on a Wilson interception against Oakland from the 11-yard line).
Asked the reason for that success, Schottenheimer pointed to “the ability to run it, obviously’’ as well as Wilson’s playmaking “and winning some one-on-one’’ matchups.
“But start with the running game,’’ he said. “That’s probably the first thing. We’ve been running well, moving people down there.’’
Indeed, Seattle has four rushing touchdowns this season, already tying the total for all of last season, all coming in the last four games and all coming from the 20 or closer.
ED DICKSON APPEARS READY TO GO BUT A ROSTER MOVE WILL HAVE TO BE MADE
Dickson practiced fully on Thursday for the first time this season and the veteran tight end appears poised to finally make his Seahawks debut against the Lions.
“We’d love to mix him in and see where’s he at,’’ Schottenheimer said.
But first, Seattle would have to make a move to put him on the 53-man roster and most likely the move would be to remove one of the other tight ends — Tyrone Swoopes, maybe — for Dickson. Seattle’s other tight ends are Nick Vannett and Darrell Daniels. Swoopes played well against the Raiders after returning to the team that week but the numbers may ace him out for this week.
“We’ll see,’’ Schottenheimer said. “We’ll see how it goes. Get another good day tomorrow and see what it looks like. … We’ll see how Ed does tomorrow before making a decision.’’
RASHAAD PENNY’S CONFIDENCE IS GOING UP, UP, UP
Heading into the Raiders’ game, one of the major story lines was the inactivity of first-round pick Rashaad Penny, who was on the field for just one play against the Rams.
The Seahawks spent the week saying it was just one of those things and Penny would still have a major role this season.
So it was against the Raiders that Penny was on the field on the first series, turning in a 24-yard gain on a screen on the first series to set up a touchdown. Then Penny helped sew up the win by rushing eight times for 30 yards on the final drive as the Seahawks ran out the clock on a 27-3 win.
Schottenheimer said he’s noticed a little more of a pep in Penny’s step this week.
“I think his confidence is up,’’ Schottenheimer said. “He played really well in that game, the screen got him going, hitting the screen early down the boundary, that helped get him started. Love the way he finished — he had the one run late in the game where we were trying to run out he clock taking off the last eight minutes, had a run down the boundary late in the game and he knew, he had the awareness to stay in bounds and not run out of bounds and a lot of young players don’t do that. When his confidence is up, which I think it is right now, he’s a load and he’s a really good complement to the other guys we have.’’
SO HOW DOES THE TAILBACK ROTATION SORT ITSELF OUT GOING FORWARD?
Schottenheimer ended his answer about Penny noting that the Seahawks have “a really good, loaded backfield right now. They play well off each other, they feed well off each other and it’s just hard to get them all involved.’’
That led to the obvious follow-up question — how do the Seahawks get them all involved?
Schottenheimer said it’s a question that for now doesn’t necessarily have a set answer.
“Each week’s different,’’ he said. “I think you’ve heard Pete say, ‘feed the hot hand.’ I think that there is something to that. You need multiple guys for sure, but when we show up on game day we have a plan of who we think is going to start the game and with certain plays. You see how the game’s going, you see who’s playing. For Rashaad to be in there late in the game was just because we trusted him. He followed up with that by playing well.’’
DOUG BALDWIN IS FEELING BETTER
Another player whose lack of production against the Rams drew a lot of questions heading into the Raiders game — receiver Doug Baldwin — also had a breakout performance in London.
Baldwin, recall, had just one yard on one catch and one target against the Rams.
But after a slow start in the Oakland — two catches for eight yards in the first half — Baldwin finally looked like his old self in the second half, finishing with six receptions for 91 yards, including a 42-yarder that was the longest gain of the game.
So what happened to finally get Baldwin going?
Schottenheimer said nothing specific other than that maybe Baldwin was just due after having missed the second and third games of the season with a knee injury.
“I think with Doug, there is the timing element,’’ Schottenheimer said. “There’s been not a lot of practice, there’s been maybe limited with some of the stuff he’s been doing. It’s just us calling plays and you got limited passes. Sometimes he’s getting doubled, other times he’s not open — he won’t admit that, but there’s other times he’s not open. He won’t admit that, you can tell him I said that. He’ll deny it, he’ll say ‘show me the video.’ Russ (Russell Wilson) trusts him, he stepped up big time. There’s some huge third down plays — the catch he made down our boundary on the go ball was unbelievable (the 42-yarder), it was just a terrific play. The courageousness of him to go across the middle, even on the interception (in the end zone on the next play), he’s kind of going in to try to make a play. I think he’s feeling better and when he’s feeling better, that helps us.”