The Seahawks have allowed 309 rushing yards, 6.9 yards per carry and three rushing touchdowns in their last two games, both losses. They'll need to improve in a hurry to slow down Green Bay's suddenly formidable running game.
The Seahawks are becoming quite accustomed to rushing yards this season.
They gain them.
And they give them up.
Sure, let’s start with the positives. Under first-year offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer and offensive line coach Mike Solari, Seattle leads the NFL with 152.2 rushing yards per game. The Seahawks’ 4.8 yards per carry is tied for seventh league-wide. Plus, they’re the only team touting three running backs — Chris Carson (3), Mike Davis (1) and Rashaad Penny (1) — who have eclipsed 100 rushing yards in a game.
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On the grimier, infinitely more frustrating, imminently damaging flip side, the Seahawks’ defense has allowed 309 rushing yards, 6.9 yards per carry and three rushing touchdowns in their last two games (both losses). On the season, they surrender an average of 5.0 yards per carry, which ranks 28th out of 32 NFL teams.
And worst of all? Ask the Seahawks, and they’ll tell you that the tape didn’t reveal any glaring schematic weaknesses. Again and again, they were in position to make a tackle.
And again and again, Todd Gurley II and Melvin Gordon ground them into dust.
“I think the thing that’s really biting us in the hind part right now is leaky yardage,” said Seahawks safety Bradley McDougald. “You’ll hit a guy at three yards and he falls forward for another three. Now it’s second-and-4 instead of second-and-7. Simple plays like that. Things like that add up.
“This is a game of inches and if you give somebody yard after yard and they’re falling forward instead of backwards, or we’re not hitting them until four yards down the field, then second down becomes a lot easier and your third down is much more manageable.”
Echoed defensive linemen Branden Jackson: “We didn’t make the tackles we were supposed to make. A lot of times we were in our gaps and the play was there to be made. We didn’t make the play.”
The 4-5 Seahawks — who host the 4-4-1 Packers at CenturyLink Field on Thursday night — can’t afford many more misses. Their next opponent, Green Bay, is tied for the league-lead with 5.2 yards per carry this season. Second-year running back Aaron Jones — who exploded for 145 rushing yards, 9.7 yards per carry and two scores in a win over Miami last weekend — enters the game with an eye-opening 6.8 yards per carry on the season.
But Jones isn’t the only Aaron fueling Green Bay’s success on the ground.
“(Quarterback) Aaron Rodgers does a great job of getting them in different run looks,” McDougald said. “He’s a veteran. He finds the gaps, the bubbles. Aaron Jones is doing a great job finding gaps. He reminds me of Kerryon (Johnson) from Detroit. He does a great job of taking what the defense allows him. He ran right through the Dolphins.”
If the Seahawks aren’t careful, they’ll be subjected to an all-too-familiar sequel on Thursday night. Plus, consider that their next opponent — the Carolina Panthers — ranks third in the NFL in both rushing yards per game (138.4) and yards per carry (5.1). After that, they get a divisional game against the 49ers, who currently sit fourth in the NFL with 133.6 rushing yards per game.
In their four wins this season, the Seahawks have held their opponent to 92.8 rushing yards per game, 4.7 yards per carry and just one rushing touchdown.
In their five losses, Seattle has surrendered 139.2 rushing yards per game, 5.2 yards per carry and six rushing scores.
With seven games remaining, the Seahawks need a sustained winning streak to snatch an increasingly unlikely playoff spot.
To pull that off, they’ll have to keep running the football.
And they’ll have to stop the run (which means limiting that leaky yardage).
“Our defense is really built to stop the run,” McDougald said. “We haven’t done that the last couple weeks. We really just (need to) get back to that — guys staying in their gap, playing Seahawk football and tackling.”
He paused and then repeated the final word, adding extra emphasis.