It's hard not to notice that the Seahawks have thrown more passes than they have run it in each of their three games this year. We may be seeing a different offensive balance this year than in seasons past.
As the hubbub over Jimmy Graham’s lack of catches last week showed, it’s risky to make conclusions about anything early in an NFL season. Graham caught seven passes and had a touchdown in Sunday’s 26-0 win over the Bears, and suddenly is on pretty much the same season pace for catches and touchdowns as his New Orleans career.
Still, it’s hard not to notice that the Seahawks have thrown more passes than they have run it in each of their three games this year and for the season have thrown 101 passes compared to 86 runs.
Throwing more than running made sense in the first two games when the Seahawks were playing from behind quite a bit.
But today was a different story as the game never seemed in doubt, even when it was close early, and the Seahawks got ahead comfortably in the third quarter and then rode out a 26-0 win. Yet when it was over, Seattle had 30 passes and 29 runs. True, the Seahawks had 21 runs to 16 passes in the second as they did begin to run more as the game wore on.
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Still, throwing it more than running it three times this year already almost matches the total of the last two seasons.
The Seahawks threw more passes than they ran it in just four games last season — losses to St. Louis, Dallas and San Diego and a win at Carolina; and four times in 2013 (losses to San Francisco and Arizona and wins against Carolina and St. Louis). Each of the three wins listed there are games in which the Seahawks trailed for much of the game or, in the case of the 2013 St.Louis affair, barely had the ball enough to do much of anything (running just 33 plays — 18 passes and 15 runs).
Seattle is averaging 33.6 passes per game this season which would be the most since the 2010 season and substantially greater than the 28.3 of last year or 26.25 of 2013.
Again, it’s just three games and the Seahawks were behind in most of two.
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And it made sense for the Seahawks to want to throw it today given Marshawn Lynch’s injury issues and the Bears’ deficiencies against the pass — Chicago came in allowing an average passer rating in the first two games (against Carson Palmer and Aaron Rodgers) of 128.0.
Still, it maybe says something that the Seahawks don’t seem reluctant to throw it around more.
The addition of Graham is one factor — the Seahawks undoubtedly were trying to get him the ball today.
But it’s not just him.
Right now, the Seahawks have three receivers on pace to catch more passes in a season than anyone has in the Pete Carroll era. Doug Baldwin has 17 catches, which is on pace for 90 receptions, while Graham and Jermaine Kearse (who quietly had a nice game with six catches for 76 yards) are on pace for 74 each. No one has caught more than the 66 Baldwin had last season since T.J. Houshmandzadeh had 79 in 2009 9and yes, I had to look that up to remind myself how to spell that again).
It’s hard to know what to make of Lynch’s injury situation. He was listed as questionable entering the game with a calf injury. The radio broadcast reported all game he was dealing with a sore back —which has been a constant issue of his for years now (the only Seattle game he has missed came due to his back in 2011). And then he missed the second half with a hamstring injury.
Thomas Rawls had a real nice game filling in for Lynch, seemingly better than Carroll anticipated given some of his post-game comments. Maybe had Carroll known what Rawls could do the gameplan would have been different, and now knowing what Rawls can do will certainly impact how the Seahawks plan going forward.
Still, the possible season-long uncertainty over Lynch’s health — if he’s this banged up three games in it’s hard to imagine days like this won’t crop up again — and the relative inexperience of Rawls might mean the Seahawks will have a little different offensive balance this year than in seasons past. Graham obviously gives the Seahawks the kind of receiver they’ve never had in the Carroll era while Baldwin and Kearse are each dependable vets. Rookie Tyler Lockett also has six catches and figures to only be used more as a receiver as the season continues.
Then there’s Wilson, newly-signed to a four-year $87 million deal. The offense has always been billed as equal parts Wilson and Lynch. But maybe this is the year it becomes a lot more Wilson than Lynch.
After three games he’s leading the team in rushing with 137 yards and he’s completing 70.3 percent of his passes (his career best is 64) with a passer rating of 94.2 (not far off his career number entering the season of 98.6).
He’s also been sacked 12 times (tied with Marcus Mariota for the most in the NFL) and one can’t help but wonder how long that can continue. But given Seattle’s offensive line issues, it’s hard to imagine having a better quarterback than Wilson right now to have on hand.
There are a lot of games left, but the early returns indicate we may be seeing a little bit of a changing of the focus of the Seattle offense this year.