It appears Wilson is pretty much back to normal after the trio of injuries that hampered him the first seven weeks of the season.
It was both a good and a bad thing that Russell Wilson, to use the words of coach Pete Carroll, was able to run “all over the place” Sunday in a 14-5 loss at Tampa Bay.
The good was the obvious that it was another continuing sign of Wilson’s return to health and normalcy that he had 80 yards on eight carries — one more yard rushing than he had for the entire season coming into the game.
What was Wilson’s first official run of the game came in the second quarter and went for 17 yards — eight yards longer than any run he had had this season until Sunday.
So yep, it appears Wilson is pretty much back to normal after the trio of injuries that hampered him the first seven weeks of the season.
“Yeah, it felt great out there running,” Wilson said.
But the obvious negative was that Wilson spent a lot of time simply running away from danger, flushed time and again from the pocket.
Despite being as mobile as he’d been all season he was still sacked a season-high six times. Several other times he escaped pressure to throw it on the run or gaining yards on scrambles.
The other glass-half-empty way to view it is also that the idea that Wilson’s running was all that was needed to come back to make the Seattle offense unstoppable proved a fallacy on this day.
Oddly, on the day Wilson ran at his best the offense couldn’t have been worse, with just one field goal and a season-low 245 yards. Turns out, the Seahawks still need a passing game and a conventional running game, each of which were basically missing in action Sunday.’
Wilson gained 10 yards a play on his eight runs.
But take those out and the Seahawks rushed for 47 yards on 14 carries, and had just 165 total yards on 53 plays, or 3.1 yards per play (as it was, the Seahawks averaged just 4.0 yards per play, also the lowest of the season (the low had been 4.5).
Maybe Tampa Bay, not having seen Wilson run much to this point, didn’t worry about it a whole lot, and the Seahawks just couldn’t take advantage of it as much as they might be able to later.
Certainly, Carroll was left searching for bright spots afterward, pointing specifically to the way Wilson operated the zone read. Most of the year, Wilson has never kept it, something defenses have noticed and played accordingly. But Sunday, Wilson keeping it was more of a threat than at any time this season.
“Yeah, it was great,” Carroll said of Wilson’s running. “That’s just what we’re counting on. If they give it to us, we’re going to take it. A lot of those carries early in the year, we would hand the ball off and couldn’t do much with it. He put together a real nice showing and that helps us with our run game moving forward.”
The rest of the run game was a little hard to figure, though.
Thomas Rawls had 38 yards on 12 carries, just 3.2 per attempt, despite the fact that the zone read did appear to open a few holes.
“I thought he looked OK,” Carroll said. “He missed a couple opportunities when he had big space and kind of lost his footing a bit. I thought he ran hard and came out feeling all right.”
Rawls was the only tailback to carry the ball, which at first glance would likely tie a team record for fewest tailbacks to get carries in a game.
There had been much talk about how Alex Collins might fit in as he moved up to a backup role with C.J. Prosise and Troymaine Pope out. But Collins played sparingly and did not get a carry or a target as a receiver. When Seattle needed one yard to convert a third down in the third quarter, the Seahawks instead turned to fullback Will Tukuafu, who was stuffed for no gain.
George Farmer, signed from the practice squad this week, played more than did Collins (getting a lot of action in the two-minute offense as a third-down back) and had two targets with one reception for four yards, though he did not get a carry.
Prosise isn’t coming back anytime soon and Pope may not be, either, so the Seahawks will have to make it work with the running backs they have.
That goes for the entire offense, which at this point can’t really make major personnel changes. The return of Wilson’s running was the last significant addition that figured to come this season.
That it arrived Sunday and didn’t matter at all does little to soothe the concern after one of the odder games in recent Seahawks history.