It’s a bit early to jump to any conclusions. As Seattle tight end Jimmy Graham said after the game, “we got too many playmakers on this side of the ball.” But it’s hard not to wonder what's going on.
LOS ANGELES — Once again, it looked as though magic was going to undo 59 minutes of futility.
For a second straight Sunday, it appeared that pixie dust would power the Seahawks to another comeback win.
But at the Los Angeles Coliseum, the Rams showed 91,000 people that magic is no match for reality. And the reality is that Seattle’s offense might be fundamentally flawed.
Seahawks offense by the numbers
22 Possessions the Seahawks have had in two games.
1 Touchdown scored this season.
3 Field goals scored this season.
13 Punts by the Seahawks this season.
Two games is not a sufficient sample size to label the Seahawks offensively inept, but it’s enough to make you wonder. The changes on that side of the ball are significant enough to warrant legitimate concern.
Seattle coach Pete Carroll said he was surprised that his team has managed just 15 points this season — that he never would have anticipated such an elusive end zone. But when you take a moment to think about it, ask yourself: Was this really that improbable?
Since Carroll took this team over in 2010, the Seahawks have centered their offense around an incessantly-efficient running game. Marshawn Lynch spent six seasons building a Hall-of-Fame-caliber resume in Seattle, and when he was hurt, Thomas Rawls came in and led the league in yards per carry.
And despite an offensive line that gradually declined from 2013 to 2015, the Seahawks tallied more rushing yards than any other NFL team over the past four seasons. But now, Lynch is gone, Rawls doesn’t look like himself, and the line — which lost Russell Okung and J.R. Sweezy to free agency last year, is as flimsy as ever.
Sometimes it seems as though Carroll and Seattle general manager John Schneider treat their O-line the way a freeway driver treats his gas tank. The needle had been pointing at “E” for a while, but the front office neglected to fill ’er up.
The result is the Seahawks going from having the league’s highest-paid offensive line in 2012 to the lowest-paid one in 2016. And Sunday, that translated to Seattle’s ground game having all the power of a moped.
In the Hawks’ 9-3 loss to the Rams, they managed just 67 rushing yards on 24 carries. Twenty-six of those yards came on back-to-back runs by Christine Michael in the third quarter, but aside from that, the run game was virtually nonexistent.
Rawls, who could never seem to find a hole to dart through, finished with minus-7 yards on seven carries, and now has 25 yards on 19 carries this season. That’s frightening. And if it doesn’t improve, it could be damning.
Given how the Dolphins and Rams boast two of the NFL’s best defensive lines, it might be unfair to bury the Hawks’ O-line this quickly. After the game, Seattle left tackle Bradley Sowell said he thought his team played well up front, but just “shot ourselves in the foot” a few times.
Well, they also surrendered sacks that knocked the wind out of a couple second-half drives … but it’s not as though quarterback Russell Wilson came to the rescue.
Impressive as Wilson’s numbers have been throughout the years, his productivity has benefitted from his team’s rushing abilities. Up until that five-game stretch last season — an amazing, historic five-game stretch, mind you — opponents’ first priority was to stop the run.
But with the ground game MIA through the first two weeks, perhaps it is no coincidence that Wilson’s numbers have suffered. Is it possible that brilliant stretch of pocket passing last year was an outlier?
Again, it’s a bit early to jump to any conclusions. As Seattle tight end Jimmy Graham said after the game, “we got too many playmakers on this side of the ball.” The Seahawks’ offense — particularly the O-line — had its shortcomings last season before turning it around the second half.
But you can’t ignore that Rawls has been without his explosiveness and that Michael is an unproven running back. You can’t disregard the fact that the line has declined after years of neglect from the front office. You can’t overlook the possibility that Wilson’s greatness has been, in large part, contingent on the Seahawks’ run-first approach.
Reality won in Los Angeles on Sunday. There was no magic for the Seahawks.
Unless you consider it magic that their offense disappeared.