Another week, another tailback for the Seahawks. How will Thomas Rawls fare? How about behind an offensive line committing fewer penalties?
PUT A.P.B ON A.P.
One big change in this Arizona team and the others the Seahawks have seen the last few years is the presence of future Hall of Fame running back Adrian Peterson, acquired in a trade with New Orleans last month to beef up the team’s beleaguered rushing attack.
In two of three games it’s worked out well — Peterson rushed for 134 yards in a win over Tampa Bay and 159 on a career-high 37 carries last week against the 49ers. Arizona coach Bruce Arians insisted he has no worries about how well the 32-year-old can bounce back four days later after getting so much work. And at this point in the season he has little choice but to take that gamble and find out, anyway.
The Seahawks are pretty familiar with Peterson having faced him four times since 2012. They’ve held him down well in the last three, limiting him to a combined 128 yards on 52 carries. That includes 45 in a wildcard game in 2016, when he also had a fourth-quarter fumble that led to Seattle’s winning points in a 10-9 Seahawks victory.
“I feel like we have been very disciplined when we played him and we understand the problems that he kind of presents when we play him,’’ said Seattle middle linebacker Bobby Wagner. “If we stay gap sound, we should be fine.”
THROW OUT THE FLAGS
There may be no more scrutinized statistic in this game than Seattle’s penalties after the Seahawks were flagged 16 times Sunday, the second-most in team history and most in 33 years. It also left Seattle on pace for an NFL record 164 for the season.
And while there have been times when the Seahawks have shrugged when they’ve gotten a lot of penalties they didn’t this week as all the flags made an obvious difference in the outcome. Ten were on the offense with every linemen getting at least one. Players readily acknowledged all week that the penalty trend can’t continue – Seattle has gotten 10 or more in four of the last six games.
“We have to be a little bit smarter in the moment,’’ said quarterback Russell Wilson. “… We are playing as tough as we can play and that’s what we want. We just got to be a little bit smarter and I know that we will do that and we will fix that.”
GIVE RAWLS ROOM TO RUN
Another week, another tailback who has his chance to take ownership of the team’s tailback position.
Seattle gave Eddie Lacy the start Sunday with the idea of rolling with him as long as he was effective. But that lasted only a quarter until he was sidelined with a groin injury that will hold him out against the Cardinals. That means Thomas Rawls will get the start after he took over for Lacy last week and had 39 yards on nine carries in the final three carries.
Seattle doesn’t have much behind Rawls — C.J. Prosise and J.D. McKissic are the only other two healthy tailbacks on the roster (with fullback Tre Madden having been put on IR this week, as well). Seattle rushed for 148 yards against Washington, second-most this season, gaining 5.3 per carry. But 77 of that came from Wilson on 10 carries in a game in which he seemed more eager to get out of the pocket than at any time this year. Carroll said this week that Wilson may need to be a little bit more selective about running in part because one of the team’s penalty issues is offensive holding calls on linemen when Wilson leaves the pocket — seven of 10 holds have occurred on such plays.
No one doubts that Seattle needs Wilson to run to be effective, and it’s hard to criticize him looking to run when it works as well as it does — Wilson leads Seattle with 271 yards, almost a third of the Seahawks’ 831 yards (and already more than the 259 he had all of last season). But the Seahawks need more of a well-rounded rushing attack to make the offense work the way they really want it to — and allow Wilson to pick and choose his own running a little bit more.