RENTON — The hot topic that has been at the source of the Seattle Seahawks’ defensive struggles is about to transfer over to the other side of the ball.
Seattle’s defense has given up too many big plays this season. But the offense has been equally inept at creating them.
Through five games, the Seahawks have just two plays of 30 yards or more. The only touchdowns of longer than 20 yards were Julius Jones runs.
Seattle’s average of 4.5 yards per play, which ranks 25th in the league.
“We’re not getting big plays,” coach Mike Holmgren said Monday. “That’s what we’re missing.”
The most obvious reason for the lack of big plays is health. Big-play receivers Nate Burleson and Deion Branch have missed most of the season, while quarterback Matt Hasselbeck is also hobbled.
Holmgren displayed a rare show of helplessness during his Monday press conference, saying that he’s almost out of options.
“We’re in a tough spot,” he said when talking about the team’s lack of big-play receivers. “But I don’t know where to go.”
Help could come at the running back position, where Holmgren said he plans to give Maurice Morris a few more snaps per game because he is “a playmaker.”
The team should also get Branch back from a bruised heel this week, Holmgren said.
But other than that, the Seahawks might have to find their offensive playmakers on a roster that’s already been decimated by injuries.
A few more big plays, Holmgren said, could change the entire scope of the season.
“If I had a wish list, I’d say just a couple big plays a game,” Holmgren said. “That would really kind of spark everybody.”
Grant might play: Safety Deon Grant played the final three quarters of Sunday’s game with a brace on the left knee that he suffered on Green Bay’s first offensive possession.
Grant might do the same this Sunday against Tampa Bay.
Holmgren said Monday that the veteran safety and team captain is likely to be available despite the knee injury. Holmgren did not get specific with the nature of the injury — Grant said immediately after the game that he heard a popping sound and thought he might have torn his medial collateral ligament — but seemed optimistic Grant would be back soon.
“He’s kind of limping around here, he’s got ice on it, and he probably won’t practice too much,” Holmgren said. “But I expect that he’ll be able to play in the game Sunday.”
Defensive end Patrick Kerney is also expected back this week after suffering a neck stinger in the Packers game.
The news wasn’t so good when it came to tight end Will Heller. Holmgren said that Heller suffered a strained knee ligament and “will miss some time.”
By the numbers: As if one win in five games is not enough proof that the Seahawks are struggling this season, there are a few other morsels of statistical proof.
Just a few of the team’s issues:
n The offense and defense both rank 27th in the league in both offense and defense.
n The team’s second-leading receiver, Bobby Engram, has played only two games — and he went without a single catch in one of them.
n The defense has given up more points through its first five games (151) than any Seahawks team since the inaugural squad in 1976.
n Every starting quarterback in the NFC has a higher passer rating than Matt Hasselbeck’s team-best 57.7.
n Seattle has been outscored 52-3 in the third quarters of games.
n The Seahawks have just one interception this season, which matches the lowest total in the league. Only the winless Detroit Lions and 1-4 St. Louis Rams have a single interception this season. Four teams — Jacksonville, Green Bay, Tampa Bay and the New York Jets — have more interception return touchdowns than the Seahawks have touchdowns.
Back for more? During his Monday press conference, Holmgren was asked whether the team’s poor start has caused him to re-consider his retirement at season’s end.
“I don’t think that’s my decision anymore,” he said. “We’ve kind of crossed that bridge.”
Holmgren announced last winter that the 2008 season would be his last as head coach of the Seahawks. Shortly thereafter, the team announced that defensive backs coach Jim Mora would take over in 2009.
Holmgren was also asked about the possibility of him getting tuned out, seeing as though he’ll only be coaching for 11 more regular-season games.
“This is a pretty good group,” Holmgren said. “They’re professionals. … I think as long as you don’t try and con them, as long as you’re honest with them and up-front with them, they’ll play; they’ll go for you.
“I’m not really worried about that.”
Losing stinks: One day after the team’s second consecutive loss, the players were not made available to the media on Monday afternoon.
Today is the weekly off-day for players.
Quick slants: Holmgren said that more lineup changes could be coming this week, adding that the team doesn’t plan on doing anything too dramatic. … The Seahawks continue to be encouraged by the play of rookie tight end John Carlson, whom Holmgren said was “special.” … The team will start broadcasting games on station 97.3 FM. The first five games were on KIRO’s AM station.