By John Boyle Herald Writer
RENTON — Are you, football fan, looking for some dynamic, quick-strike offense this weekend? Is your version of sports entertainment one long pass after another? Do you believe football offenses should operate under a go-route-or-go-home philosophy?
Well then, do we have an NFL matchup for you. … to avoid.
When the Rams and Seahawks face off on Sunday, it won’t just be a matchup of two of the league’s lowest-scoring offenses, but also two of the least explosive. Not only are the Seahawks last in the league in passing yardage, quarterback Russell Wilson has completed just six passes of 20 or more yards. The only quarterback to complete fewer such passes is St. Louis’ Sam Bradford, who has five.
And while the Seahawks have been very strong in the running game, they haven’t exactly been ripping off long run after long run. Marshawn Lynch’s 36-yarder against Dallas is the team’s only gain of 20 or more yards on the ground this season.
But big plays or not, the running game is not the issue for Seattle, so enough about that. The passing attack, however, has very much been a topic of discussion this season. If not for one very debatable call at the end of Monday Night’s game, a big topic of discussion this week would not be a controversial Seahawks win, but rather how an anemic offense wasted a very impressive performance by Seattle’s defense.
As it turned out, the Seahawks won to improve to 2-1, but the offensive numbers, regardless of Seattle’s record, leave a bit to be desired.
The Seahawks scoring average (19.0) ranks 29th in the league despite being aided by big plays on defense and special teams, and the Seahawks rank last in the league in passing with an average of 127.7 yards per game. And no, that number doesn’t just seem low; it is in fact a very, very small amount of passing yards. Only once in franchise history, Seattle’s 2-14 season in 1992, have the Seahawks averaged fewer passing yards (111.1).
As bad as their passing numbers may look, Seahawks coach Pete Carroll is far less worried about it than are most Seahawks fans. He will tell you that this conservative passing attack is by design. As long as the Seahawks are running the ball and playing well on defense and special teams, Carroll is just fine with attempting the fewest passes in the NFL if that means his team isn’t turning the ball over. (Wilson has only one interception in three games.)
“I really think that this is me holding the lid on it right now,” Carroll said. “I’m overseeing all of that. What’s most important to me is that we take care of the football.”
Carroll, however, does want his offense to do better on third down. The Seahawks have converted just 12 of 41 chances so far this season.
“What we’re concerned about is that we have to convert on third down,” Carroll said. “We did a poor job on third down, particularly in the second half, but as it fits together, we’re growing. He threw the ball beautifully, so (Wilson) has the throws in him. We’re just going to emerge when we just feel good and confident about what we’re doing. It wouldn’t be any different if Matt Flynn was playing.”
Wilson is confident that, if the game calls for it, he can lead the offense to more yards and more points, but for now he’s happy to be more facilitator than playmaker if that’s what is asked of him. Especially if those modest numbers keep coming in victories.
“I’m just trying to do whatever it takes to win,” Wilson said. “That’s our focus. Coach Carroll definitely knows what he’s doing in terms of our offense and our football team. We’re 2-1 right now and we just need to focus on growing and just to continue to play at a higher level all the way across the board; the defensive side, special teams and offense.”
And it wouldn’t be a fair evaluation of Wilson to simply look at his passing yards and assume he’s having a bad rookie campaign. Yes, he has made some mistakes, and as Carroll noted, he was too quick to bail out of the pocket at times against Green Bay.
Yet despite having just 434 passing yards, the fewest of any quarterback who has started three games this season, Wilson has a passer rating of 86.2 that is actually pretty respectable. Granted it’s a small sample size, and yes, that passer rating would be lower if not for that debatable touchdown call Monday, but still, that number ranks 18th in the league, ahead of names like Drew Brees, Peyton Manning, Matthew Stafford and Michael Vick, and also ahead of fellow rookies Andrew Luck, Ryan Tannehill and Brandon Weeden.
So no, the Seahawks offense might not be explosive, but for the most part hasn’t had to be. That day will inevitably come. For now, though, if the Seahawks are winning, the Seahawks are fine keeping the lid on the offense.
“We do have a rookie quarterback, we have a great defense, we have great special teams, we can run the football, we can protect the football, and all of those have been a great recipe to win the game, and that’s really the bottom line, winning the game,” said offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell. “You can say they’re ugly wins, they’re beautiful wins, whatever they are, they’re wins, and that’s what our goal is.”
Herald Writer John Boyle: firstname.lastname@example.org.