First-year Seahawks offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer discusses quarterback Russell Wilson's insistence on extending plays, the team's offensive imbalance and third down difficulties against Denver, the outlook for several notable rookies and more.
The Seahawk offense left plenty of room to improve from last weekend.
In the season-opening 27-24 loss at Denver, Brian Schottenheimer’s unit produced just 306 total yards and surrendered six sacks. The Seahawks possessed the ball for less than 25 minutes as well, and when they did have it, they ran on just 32.7 percent of their offensive plays.
So where does the Seattle offense go from here?
Here are five things Schottenheimer — the Seahawks’ first-year offensive coordinator — said on Friday.
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A risk-reward scenario for Russell Wilson
In the wake of Sunday’s loss, Russell Wilson — the Seahawks’ seventh-year quarterback — claimed personal responsibility for three of the Broncos’ six sacks, claiming that was an unfortunate consequence of attempting to extend a play. However, one of those improvisations also resulted in a picturesque 20-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Brandon Marshall.
So, where’s the line between extending a play and making a responsible decision to throw it away?
“The six sacks that we had, when we kind of looked at them, there were really a number of different factors that shared the blame,” Schottenheimer said. “I know (Wilson) probably took a lot of the blame for some of them, and some of them he has to get the ball out of his hand. But the touchdown he threw to Brandon was a third down. He kind of got caught up, kind of kicked back (scrambled) a little bit and found Brandon.
“So it’s kind of the risk-reward thing. But again, when you get sacked in this league it’s hard. It’s hard to overcome. That kind of affects everything.”
And, speaking of that …
Offensive balance ‘wasn’t good enough’
The Seahawks ran the ball just 16 times last Sunday and Schottenheimer attributed that to the offense being stuck repeatedly in second-and-long and third-and-long situations.
“I think in this game I probably overreacted to being backed up so much and having long yardage (to gain),” Schottenheimer said. “I’d love to have some more rushing attempts back. When you look at the balance, it wasn’t good enough.”
The Seahawks will surely look to feature second-year running back Chris Carson against Chicago, after the 5-foot-11, 222-pound athlete picked up 51 yards on just seven carries against the Broncos.
But to do that, they’ll have to extend drives more consistently than they did at Denver.
“We only had the ball for 24 minutes,” Schottenheimer said, when asked for more reasons why the running game suffered. “Then we struggled on third down. (The Broncos played) good defense. Chris popped a couple good runs. The one where he jumps over the guy coming out (for a 24-yard gain), that was really cool. We had a couple two- and three-yard runs that, if you could get a little bit more of a guy covered up (on a block) here or there, that would have helped. Obviously I need to do a better job of mixing in the run.”
Schottenheimer added: “I can do better at that. That starts with me, first and foremost.”
Seahawks miss Doug Baldwin … especially on third down.
Seattle was just 2 for 12 on third down against Denver.
And standout wide receiver Doug Baldwin’s knee injury in the first quarter was one of the more apparent reasons why.
“It’s hard, because he’s been repping a lot of those plays during the course of the week,” Schottenheimer said. “It’s no excuse. We shouldn’t be 2 of 12. That’s not good enough on any of our parts.”
The Seahawks will need more of those parts to contribute in Baldwin’s absence against the Bears on Monday night.
One player, Schottenheimer said, isn’t capable of filling the void.
“Tyler (Lockett) obviously can do a lot of stuff,” Schottenheimer said. “Again, David Moore will probably play a little bit more. Brandon (Marshall will contribute), obviously. In that game we had quite a few things (plays) for Doug and so when that happened it was kind of like, ‘OK, what do we got? Now we’re down to four receivers.’
“But it will be by committee. Obviously Doug’s a great player and does so many things, and he’s a big part of the third down plan. But Tyler’s got a lot of experience in the slot. Jaron Brown’s a guy that doesn’t get enough credit. He’ll be fine. And we just came out of a third down practice and it was a really good day. The ball was getting shared around to a lot of different guys, so that was good.”
Diagnosing the Bears’ defense
The Seahawks are plenty familiar with Bears defensive coordinator Vic Fangio from his recent stint in San Francisco.
And Schottenheimer — who served as the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at the University of Georgia in 2015 — is familiar with two of Fangio’s primary weapons, too.
“Obviously everybody wants to talk about (outside linebacker) Khalil (Mack). Great player. You see that,” Schottenheimer said. “I guess we had our choice to play him Monday night (with the Bears) or in London (with the Raiders), so we were going to see him one way or the other. But he’s a great player, adds a different dimension to them.
“I was around Leonard Floyd and Roquan Smith, the rookie linebacker and the other outside backer, at Georgia. Terrific players. Both great athletes. Roquan’s extremely instinctive. The two guys inside can be dominant against the run and really powerful, Hicks and Goldman. So really good front seven, good secondary and I have all the respect in the world for Vic Fangio and his staff.”
Less than a week ago, prolific Broncos pass-rusher Von Miller finished with three sacks and two forced fumbles against the Seahawks’ overmatched offense.
Now that offense meets Mack, who stacked up a sack, a forced fumble, an interception and a touchdown in his Bears debut.
“It will be another great challenge for us going in there on Monday night,” Schottenheimer said. “But we’re excited about playing. We know last week wasn’t good enough. We expect better and we expect it to happen this weekend.”
A tale of two rookies
Rookie running back Rashaad Penny noticeably struggled in his first regular season NFL game, managing just eight yards on seven carries while adding four catches for 35 yards.
But while Carson is certainly the starter, Schottenheimer still expects Penny to produce.
“It’s another opportunity,” Schottenheimer said. “Certainly the numbers weren’t what he expected or we expected, but it wasn’t just him. We’ll try to find a way to get him into a rhythm. One of the ways of doing that, again, is by staying on the field. That kind of hurt us all a little bit in the running game.
“But he doesn’t need to do anything different. The guy is a great player. First game, he probably pressed a little bit. Again, (we’ll) try to find a way to get him the ball in space and let him do what he does. I have no doubts that he’ll do a good job in this game.”
Rookie tight end Will Dissly certainly did his job against Denver, catching three passes for a team-high 105 yards and a touchdown.
And while that outburst may have surprised many around the league, Schottenheimer saw him as more than an extended offensive lineman.
“I’m excited for him, because he got the rap of being a blocking tight end, right?” Schottenheimer said. “You obviously see that he can do some of the things that some of the complete tight ends do in this league, which is great.”
Dissly isn’t the team’s only willing blocker, however. On the rookie tight end’s rumbling 66-yard catch-and-run last weekend, 34-year-old wide receiver Brandon Marshall helped pave the way.
“If our guys continue to play hard like that, we won’t have any problems,” Schottenheimer said of Marshall’s extra effort. “We’ll work out the kinks in some of the areas where we weren’t good enough and we expect that to happen on Monday night.”