Can the Seahawks get the improvement they need out of the offense? The defense has gotten its share of blame, but it’s the offense that has appeared to be the bigger issue.
RENTON — Seattle’s record at midseason — 4-4 — and its lose-two, win-two pattern may seem the epitome of an up-and-down team.
But take a closer look and, in some ways, the Seahawks have been a picture of consistency.
They have done it by beating the four losing teams on their schedule — none of which have more than three wins and have a combined record of 8-24 — while losing to the four winning teams on their schedule, which have a combined record of 26-6.
Arizona @ Seahawks, 5:30 p.m., Ch. 5
Still, while the last two wins came against teams quarterbacked by a now-benched Colin Kaepernick and a backup in Matt Cassel, the Seahawks feel they are pointed in the right direction as they head into the second half.
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“We’ve turned it the last couple of games here, to put us at 4-4, which is nothing to be shouting about,’’ coach Pete Carroll said last week. “But it did put us in a position where we have a second half to really go forward.’’
In fact, four of Seattle’s final eight games come against teams in the NFC West, including two against division leader Arizona, beginning Sunday at 5:30 p.m. at CenturyLink Field. That also starts a stretch of three straight at home that will go a long way toward determining the season.
First, though, a look back at the first half, handing out some awards and grades to each of the three phases of the team.
MVP: QB Russell Wilson. While Wilson has been spottier than usual the last month he’s still been the most consistent aspect of the Seattle offense. His 68.8 completion percentage would be the highest of his career and his 8.03 yards per attempt the second best. Six interceptions, though, are too many — he’s never thrown more than 10 in a season.
Unsung hero: RB Thomas Rawls. The rookie enters the midseason point as Seattle’s leading rusher with 376 yards on 69 carries — one more yard than Marshawn Lynch on 32 fewer attempts.
Key stat: 5-for-17 scoring touchdowns in the red zone (inside the 20). Seattle has scored touchdowns on just 29 percent of its trips inside the 20, the lowest percentage in the NFL and one that surely can’t continue for the season to be a success.
Key question: Can the Seahawks get the improvement they need out of the offense? The defense has gotten its share of blame for some of the first-half defeats. But it’s the offense that has appeared to be the bigger issue. Seattle is averaging 353.1 yards per game, 13th in the NFL, down from 375. 8 last year, though actually a higher total than the Super Bowl champs of two years ago (339.0). A bigger issue is turning yards into points as Seattle is scoring just 20.9 per game, on pace for 334, which would be the lowest since the 2011 team had 321.
Grade: C. We can repeat what we said at the end of the first quarter — with a largely rebuilt offensive line and a less-than-healthy Lynch for much of the season, some stumbles were to be expected.
And interestingly, Seattle’s yards per play average of 5.6 is the same as the 2013 team. But the Seahawks have to be more efficient.
MVP: DE Michael Bennett. He may frustrate with some ill-timed and ill-mannered penalties. But his production the rest of the time can’t be denied, notably his team-high 6.5 sacks.
Unsung hero: LB K.J. Wright. He is playing his best in five years with the Seahawks, and is ranked No. 2 among NFL linebackers this week by Pro Football Focus.
Key stat: Eight turnovers forced. That number is tied for 25th in the NFL and on pace for 16, the lowest of the Carroll era.
Key question: Can the Seahawks hold on in fourth quarters against good teams? In its four wins, Seattle has outscored opponents 12-10 in the final quarter. In the four losses, Seattle has been outscored 45-18. The offense, certainly, has to do more, too. But Seattle hasn’t allowed more than 30 points in any other quarter.
Grade: B. Seattle is allowing 5.0 yards per play, up from 4.6 and 4.4 of the past two years. The second half will prove whether there is any real slippage in the Seattle defense.
MVP: K Steven Hauschka. He has made 18 of 19 field goals, the only miss a block, including what is already a career-high four from 50 yards or more.
Unsung hero: Kelcie McCray. Acquired from Kansas City for a fifth-round pick before the season, McCray has been a special-teams standout with a team-high seven tackles — no one else has more than three.
Key stat: 32-for-33. Kickers may be struggling elsewhere in the NFL but not in games in which the Seahawks are playing. While Hauschka is 18-for-19, Seattle’s opponents this year are 14-for-14.
Key question: Will the return games get back to where they were early in the season? Tyler Lockett was an early star with a punt return for a TD of 57 and kickoff return for 105. But the last few games have been a struggle — Lockett has 59 yards on his last 12 punt returns.
Grade: B. Credit Hauschka, Lockett and a steady Jon Ryan.