Seahawks offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer spoke in an interview on ESPN 710 Seattle on Thursday and said the gameplan against the Dallas Cowboys last Saturday was in keeping with what the Seahawks did all season.
Seahawks offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer insists he was like every other fan of the team — after Seattle lost 24-22 to Dallas in a Wild Card playoff game Saturday, he began wondering what he could have done differently.
Schottenheimer has gotten criticism from fans and football analysts alike for the playcalling Saturday, a game in which the Seahawks were held to 73 yards rushing on 24 attempts — the second-lowest total of the season — with many wondering if Seattle shouldn’t have altered its game plan to pass more.
“Look, we’re no different. I wake up on Sunday and you start thinking through the game,’’ Schottenheimer said in an interview Thursday morning on ESPN 710 Seattle, his first comments since Saturday’s game.
Schottenheimer, though, said he didn’t necessarily agree that the run-pass ratio was the issue. Instead, he said the Seahawks simply didn’t convert enough on third down to stay on the field long enough to sustain drives and get the team into more favorable situations so he could get to more of the calls on his play sheet.
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“The biggest issue we had, and it was kind of the issue we had throughout the course of the year when we struggled, was third down,’’ Schottenheimer said. “We weren’t able to get third downs, we weren’t able to get momentum going.’’
Seattle was just 2-of-13 on third downs in the game, one of which was a third-and-1 conversion on the final offensive play of the first half, as the Seahawks set up for a 57-yard field goal attempt by Sebastian Janikowski.
Seattle had only two third downs of five yards or shorter.
The only other third down it converted was when quarterback Russell Wilson ran for seven yards on a third-and-5 play that set up a Wilson touchdown run two plays later in the third quarter that put Seattle ahead.
“There were certainly things that we wanted to do there,’’ Schottenheimer said. “There were certainly things we had on the call sheet. … We got behind the sticks. So we’ve got to be better.’’
Schottenheimer defended the notion that the team didn’t adapt as the game went on, noting that after Seattle was stopped on its first three drives of the game – two of which included runs on the first two downs and then either an incomplete pass or a sack on third down — Seattle came out throwing.
Seattle used long passes of 26 yards to Ed Dickson and 40 yards to Tyler Lockett to drive for a field goal on its fourth series.
“You saw us try to adjust a little bit in that fourth series,’’ Schottenheimer said. “Started in that fourth series against Dallas. We tried to adjust with the play pass. So it’s just something (you plan) throughout the course of the week but you are monitoring throughout the game.’’
Seattle then also threw passes on four of the five plays on its next drive, which also resulted in a field goal.
After running on six of nine plays in the first quarter, the Seahawks threw it on nine of 13 plays in the second quarter.
The Seahawks went back to the run in the third quarter with 13 rushes on 18 plays. That included runs on eight of nine plays on what was the team’s only touchdown drive in the first three quarters, a score that put Seattle ahead 14-10 with 1:59 left in the third quarter.
Dallas responded with a TD drive of its own and Seattle rushed the ball only one more time in the game, throwing on its final 10 offensive plays.
Schottenheimer said the game plan was in keeping with Seattle’s overall offensive philosophy all season in which the team led the NFL in rushing at 160 yards per game.
Schottenheimer just finished his first season with the Seahawks after replacing the fired Darrell Bevell, having been hired to help the team get back to being a consistently good running team.
“That’s the way we played this year and we had some great success with it, so it was really quite easy for me to do that because this is what gives is the best chance to win this year,’’ Schottenheimer said of Saturday’s gameplan.
Intriguingly, though, he then added, “Moving forward, who knows?’’
Schottenheimer said the team’s run-first style was what the Seahawks felt best fit their personnel this season. But he said every year is different and moves the team makes in the offseason could dictate a somewhat different philosophy next year, even if Seattle’s philosophy of establishing the run is always likely to be paramount.
“We are very comfortable with the way we play football,’’ he said. “Not that we don’t want to add things. You’ve got to evolve in this game and that’s what we are excited about.’’
Schottenheimer also was asked about one play that has been questioned — the Seahawks passing out of an empty set on a third-and-2 on the first series of the game.
In an empty set, there is no running back and hence the opponent knows to expect a pass.
Schottenheimer, though, pointed out that Wilson has had some significant runs out of empty sets, so it doesn’t mean a run is off the table.
“If they do cover people, our quarterback has been known to get out for explosive plays,’’ Schottenheimer said. “There are benefits to empty (sets).’’
He also said the team inserted J.D. McKissic on the play hoping for a favorable matchup. But he said Dallas adjusted quickly by inserting a sixth defensive back.
“We were hoping they would give us some free access,’’ Schottenheimer said. “…. They came up and went dime to play J.D. and ended up covering us up.’’
Wilson’s pass to McKissic went incomplete, the first of those pesky third downs that Seattle couldn’t convert.