The Seahawks are vowing to stick to their running attack despite the fact it hasn't been working a whole lot of late.
While the Seahawks under Pete Carroll are used to playing good defense, one thing they aren’t defending much these days is the state of their running game.
To recap where things stand with Seattle’s rushing attack — and too often move backward — the Seahawks are 22nd in the NFL this week in yards per game at 100.7, barely above the 99.4 of last season that was considered pretty disastrous.
But last year the team could point to an injury to Russell Wilson and a similarly injury-laden running back corps as reasons to believe it was just a one-year blip.
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Seattle hoped it had solved a lot of the running issues with Wilson and Thomas Rawls getting healthy while adding the likes of offensive lineman Luke Joeckel and running back Eddie Lacy in free agency, not to mention the surprising emergence of seventh-round pick Chris Carson as a legitimate starter if not potential star.
But here we are, more than halfway through the season, and the running game looms as the biggest question mark facing the Seahawks as they head into the heart of the rest of the schedule — Seattle will now play seven games in 42 days beginning with Monday night’s date with Atlanta.
And Thursday, no one at the VMAC was denying that fact.
Seahawks coach Pete Carroll didn’t argue that the inability to get a consistent running game going is becoming a real point of consternation — consider that Seattle had 75 yards on 23 carries against Arizona last Thursday but with 50 coming on three plays, meaning the other 20 runs accounted for 25 yards. Such a hit-and-more-often-miss style isn’t really the Seahawks’ way.
“It is frustrating somewhat,’’ Carroll said. “But I could stick my head in the sand and ignore some stuff, too. We got to keep moving and we got to do what we can with our guys and it hasn’t been quite the same. But we are still moving the football and we are making a lot of first downs and we can do a lot of damage. So we just have to do it the way we can do it. I never give up on the fact of trying to balance out your attack. I think it is the best way to play football and so we will find a way to do that, but it is a little bit different. It hasn’t been as obvious as it has been in the past.”
That Seattle couldn’t run it much accounted for a 32-23 pass-to-run ratio against Arizona despite the fact that the Seahawks never trailed in the game.
In fact, Seattle has run it more than passed only once all season — a 33-26 run-pass edge in the blowout over the Colts. This is the same Seattle team that in both 2013 and 2014 had ratios of roughly 53-47 run-to-pass for the season.
Carroll, though, said the Seahawks won’t give up on the run even though Seattle is among the most productive passing teams in the NFL — the Seahawks are second in the NFL passing offense this week at 267.8 per game.
“We are going to run the football this week,’’ Carroll vowed. “We are not going to not run it. We are going to run the heck out of it and keep working all the stuff that makes our offense fit the way it does. Hopefully we will be productive. Let’s see if we can get more consistent and be more productive with it.”
Offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell met with media after practice and echoed what Carroll had said — that the Seahawks will simply keep trying to get a running game going.
“Well we keep working at it,’’ Bevell said. “That is all we can do. We come out here every day, we put a plan together and then we work it in practice. Just continue to work at it. Whether it’s the couple moving parts this week that is up front, moving parts in the backfield as well, we just have to continue to work it to get it in concert so that the combinations with the line, the backs are seeing it as well and just can continue to do it. It’s not something that you ever want to abandon. You become very one-dimensional that way so it is in us and we like to run and we will continue to do it because it helps set up other things in our offense.’’
So what can the Seahawks do to get it going?
There doesn’t appear a quick fix.
Coaches say the issues revolve largely around finding continuity on both the offensive line and in the backfield.
Both but areas also remain in flux. Seattle could be without left tackle Duane Brown this week, going instead with Matt Tobin. And who knows how the tailback spot will unfold with Rawls having not done much with his chance the last two weeks to take the job and run with it, Lacy coming off a groin injury and Mike Davis added this week off the practice squad. There’s lots of hope for Davis, but also the reality that he averaged just 2.0 yards per carry in two years with the 49ers.
Two weeks ago the Seahawks decided to commit to Lacy and say he would get the bulk of the carries with the hope that that would get him going. Instead, he got hurt one quarter into the Washington game
Thursday, Seattle coaches seemed to stray from the idea of sticking with one back instead saying they may again try everyone and hope someone gets a hot hand.
Asked if Davis could become that guy, offensive line coach Tom Cable said he would get a chance this week but that so would the others.
“We’re trying to find that, there’s no doubt,” Cable said. “But I think until someone will take that role, we have to keep working at it and of course the injuries are what created Mike’s opportunity. But yeah, we’d love to have a lead running back. Sure.”
The hope is that happens before it gets too late to matter.