Seahawks’ offense reduces mistakes and penalties

RENTON — There are a number of reasons why the Seattle Seahawks were better on offense in Sunday’s win over Jacksonville than they had been in the previous two games.

For starters, quarterback Russell Wilson played better than he had a week earlier. And let’s face it, the opponent also had plenty to do with Seattle’s ability to march up and down the field. But the biggest single reason why the offense improved? It’s what they didn’t do.

“No dumb penalties,” said receiver Doug Baldwin. “We stayed away from the dumb mental mistakes and the dumb penalties, and we made the most of our opportunities.”

In their first two games, the Seahawks were flagged for 19 penalties that set them back 183 yards. Seattle still won, thanks in large part to a defense good enough to overcome mistakes, and an offense that, against Carolina in particular, passed its way past some less-than-ideal down and distance situations. But on Sunday, the Seahawks were hit with just four penalties for 24 yards.

“We did better on offense,” Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll said. “We function better, were cleaner, sharper, got rid of the major penalties that could really hurt you, and that was the biggest, obvious difference.”

As Wilson so often says, one of the keys to success on third down is staying on schedule on first and second down, which creates fewer third-and-long situations. That’s tough to do when you get a false start and begin a drive first-and-15, or when a hold sets up second-and-17. But when the penalties go away, so too do many of those third-and-longs.

The Seahawks had 11 third downs Sunday — though one of those ended up being wiped out by a Jacksonville penalty — and only four of those were longer than third-and-five, with just one being longer than third-and-10.

So what changed last week? It wasn’t as if the Seahawks didn’t know they could improve in that area before they began preparation for the Jaguars last week. They were one of the most penalized teams in the league early last season before cleaning it up as the year went on, then the penalties came back in the preseason.

Carroll joked that, “I think I did a really good job this week for the first time. I really got my act together. Heck, I don’t know, we’re trying.”

But joking aside, Carroll and his coaching staff have been working to get the message across to their players about penalties.

“We’re trying everything we can think of to get the awareness across to the guys and all of that,” he said. “I would like to think it was our coaching sometimes, but I don’t know. But the emphasis is really obvious; our guys want to do right. They don’t want to put ourselves in situations where we are helping our opponent, and that’s what really is the biggest issue is for us. It’s hard enough to win when you are doing everything right, and when you make mistakes and you just give them opportunities, it’s difficult to get that done. So we are trying to get better at it.”

Injury update

Defensive end Red Bryant, who left Sunday’s game with back spasms, appears to have escaped any serious injury.

“He’s got a sore back today,” Carroll said. “He’s kind of stiff and all of that. He kind of got in an awkward position and just tweaked it. He’s got muscle spasms, and usually those can get taken care of in three or four days, so he should be all right.”

The news was also encouraging on receiver Jermaine Kearse, who suffered an ankle sprain and was in a walking boot in the locker room following Sunday’s game.

“He was getting around pretty well today,” Carroll said. “From what I heard leaving the stadium yesterday, he got rid of the boot, so he was trying to show us that he’s ready to go, so we’ll see what happens.”

Breno Giacomini, who was on last week’s injury report with a knee injury, then left the game early, was “a little sore today,” Carroll said.

Strongside linebacker Malcolm Smith, who was held out of the game with a hamstring injury, will be ready to go this week, Carroll said.

Roster move

The Seahawks signed tackle Caylin Hauptmann to fill the roster spot that came open when tackle Russell Okung was placed on the injured reserve/designated to return. Hauptmann, who is listed at 6-3, 300 pounds, had been on Cleveland’s practice squad after originally signing with the Browns in April as an undrafted free agent. Hauptmann started 37 games as a left tackle at Florida International.

Herald Writer John Boyle:

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