Seattle Seahawks

Seattle Seahawks Need to Resurrect Their Passing Offense and Save This Season

If a toolbox were to be filled with the NFL’s offenses, the Seattle Seahawks are the hammer.

Not the nail gun, with its combination of danger if not used properly and rapid efficiency. The nail gun completes the job with time to spare, and little physical effort is required.

No, the many passing-oriented teams wield their nail guns. The Seahawks prefer a simple tool, one that’s nearly archaic around the NFL.

Each week they swing their rushing hammer with fury, content to pound away until the structure in front of them crumbles. The Seahawks aren‘t trying to be precision craftsmen. They would rather be the demolition crew that comes in beforehand.

That approach has mostly worked. Seattle leads the league in rushing yards per game (174.2), and it’s not close, with the Dallas Cowboys a distant second (153.2). The Seahawks also lead the league in yards per carry (5.5) and are second in rushing touchdowns (14).

But what if suddenly the Seahawks’ rushing hammer was taken away? What if instead a 6-4 team pushing for the playoffs has to rely heavily on an often discarded nail gun?

When looking at Seattle’s remaining schedule it’s not difficult to see tough running soon becoming impossible running and a rushing team suddenly forced into being a passing team. And lately, passing hasn’t been kind to the Seahawks.

Just how much have they leaned on the running game while often treating a forward pass as a nuisance that needs to be tolerated? The Seahawks are third in run attempts (316) and 30th in pass attempts (292).

All of that has been powered by running back Marshawn Lynch, who’s still beastly with his 813 rushing yards (fourth) after 10 games, and by quarterback Russell Wilson with his masterful execution of read-option plays, using deception to maximize his chunk gains.

Wilson has recorded three 100-plus-yard games, and at 571 yards overall he’s 14th on the league’s rushing leaderboard. That puts him on pace to run for over 900 yards, a plateau only four quarterbacks have reached.

But as a passer he’s been either brilliant or scattered, and often the vast space in between has led to an even heavier reliance on his legs.

Go ahead then and peer at the gauntlet that awaits as the currently eighth-seeded defending champs try to keep playing football in January. You’ll note that of the six games remaining, five are against division opponents.

But look at little closer, and you see a shift coming. The Seahawks’ rushing juggernaut is heading straight into reinforced brick walls. Four of them.

Since four of those final six games are against the Arizona Cardinals and San Francisco 49ers (two each), that’s when an abrupt offensive identity shift may have to happen. This isn’t exactly inviting for a team that’s lived on running, more running and even more running…

That already seems like a fiery running death, and the stark contrast between the teams Seattle has played and the teams they will play makes it worse.

Rushing for 350 yards is an incredible feat of strength against any defense that does its defending in the NFL. But when the Seahawks did that in Week 10 to set a new single-game franchise record it came against the New York Giants. Their run defense is basically manned by a group of gummy bears, allowing a league-worst 145.0 yards per game.

Of the Seahawks’ 10 opponents so far, four are currently ranked 25th or worse defensively against the run (Giants, Green Bay Packers, Kansas City Chiefs and Oakland Raiders). The Carolina Panthers (23rd) aren’t much better, and neither are the St. Louis Rams (18th).

There’s also a chance the 49ers could have inside linebacker NaVorro Bowman back for a Week 15 meeting between the two teams, albeit perhaps a reaching one at this point. So if the expected happens and the Seahawks are forced into throwing far more, what exactly will their suddenly pass-happy offense look like during these desperate times?

Well, hopefully the past four games will be a memory.

Overall there’s been little downfield thrust from the Seahawks’ passing offense. The exception has been Wilson hauling out his extinguisher during fire-drill situations and doing something completely insane (his 60-yard pass to wide receiver Jermaine Kearse in Week 10 certainly fits that description).

But there’s been a downturn since Week 8 lowlighted by Wilson’s passer rating dipping to 53.7 against the Giants. Over that stretch he’s averaged 182 passing yards per game and, more importantly, only 6.3 yards per attempt. In 2013 Wilson finished with a per-attempt average of 8.2.

Of his 2,019 passing yards heading into Week 12, only 905 have come through the air, according to Pro Football Focus (subscription required). That means less than half (44.8 percent) of Wilson’s passing has come from the power of his own arm.

It also means the Seahawks’ offensive approach has been highly restricted, focusing on opportunities for yards after the catch.

Concentrating on those short-yardage looks isn’t at all a bad thing. The Chiefs have taken that strategy to an even further extreme, and it’s worked out just fine, thanks.

The concern, however, lies with an inability to either claw from behind if needed or establish a comfortable lead. Looking back on the Seahawks’ entire season, the point differential in six of their 10 games has been a touchdown or less.

Though Wilson has thrown some wayward deep balls, he’s not the problem. The flaw lies in structure.

The Seahawks simply don’t have an offense that’s designed to stretch the field deep with any consistency. Wilson has completed 182 passes so far this season, and only 11 have traveled 20 yards or more through the air, per PFF. For perspective, Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck is on the other end of the spectrum with 27 completions at that distance or more.

Over the past four weeks a running back has been the Seahawks’ leading receiver once (Lynch in Week 9), and Wilson is averaging 10.1 yards per completion when throwing to wide receivers.

This is a run-first unit, as it should be with Lynch using that mighty hammer and Wilson creating read-option chaos. But if they get shut down or slowed during the walk through fire that is the Seahawks’ remaining schedule, a running offense will need to morph into an effective passing offense. Fast.

If that happens, downfield separation could still be a problem along with protection. And winning could also be a problem.

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‘The Best Home-Field Advantage in Sports’: Faces Behind the Seahawks’ 12th Man

Fans of the Seattle Seahawks call themselves the “12th Man” and describe themselves in one word: loud.

What does it take to be part of the 12th Man? Can the fans will their beloved Seahawks to a second consecutive Super Bowl title?

Watch as Bleacher Report profiles some of the many faces that make up the 12th Man in the video above.

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Marshawn Lynch Fined $100K for 2 Separate Violations of NFL’s Media Policy

Marshawn Lynch has been fined $100,000 for violating the NFL‘s media policy, but the Seahawks running back is appealing the punishment. 

Continue for updates.

 

Thursday, Nov. 20

Lynch Appeals Punishment

Pro Football Talk reports that Lynch will appeal his fine:

 

Wednesday, Nov. 19

Lynch Fined for Not Talking to Media

Marshawn Lynch is all about that action, boss. Unfortunately, the NFL requires the Seattle Seahawks running back to speak to reporters as well, but he remains reluctant to adhere to that policy.

The NFL has fined Lynch a total of $100,000 due to his failure to comply with the NFL’s media policy, which requires players to be available to the media at various times during the season—including during practice and after games.

There are two separate $50,000 fines, one issued following Seattle’s Week 11 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs.

Mike Garafolo of Fox Sports provided the details:

The other fine comes from last season, when he once again refused to talk to reporters. The NFL fined ”Beast Mode” $50,000 for his silence, and Seattle fans started raising money for Lynch’s fine in protest. 

Lynch appealed the decision and promised to adhere to any future media guidelines if the fine was lifted. The NFL agreed, but Lynch has not lived up to his promise.

ESPN’s Josina Anderson had Lynch’s thoughts on the fine and the idea of an appeal:

“I thought I covered my basis by doing an interview after the game–what I was told to do. If it wasn’t good enough then I don’t know what to say. That’s it. Now I understand it wasn’t good enough for the league, or for whoever is fining me.” …

… “Matter of fact, I’m about to get on the horn with my agent right now and see what’s up.” Lynch was not aware of the fine prior to my call.

Lynch, 28, has rushed for 813 yards and nine touchdowns this season along with another 247 receiving yards and three scores. Despite signing an extension with the team in July after holding himself out of training camp this summer, the future apparently looks bleak for Lynch in Seattle.

Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reports the two sides are likely to part ways after this season.

In a rare appearance, Lynch discussed his thoughts on the franchise following his team’s defeat on Sunday, per Michael Silver of NFL.com:

Do I think I’ll be gone after this season? I don’t know, man. The Seahawks, their front office gets in the media; they talk a lot. I don’t talk too much. I just play the game.

If they have something going on, I don’t know about it.

Given the numbers Beast Mode is currently putting up, there shouldn’t be a lack of interest in the RB if he becomes available in the offseason.

The Seahawks are currently 6-4 and preparing for a showdown with the 9-1 Arizona Cardinals. Hopefully, Lynch’s fine doesn’t become a distraction for a team that needs a win in Week 12 to make a run at the playoffs.

 

Follow @RCorySmith on Twitter.

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Arizona Cardinals vs. Seattle Seahawks: Betting Odds, Analysis, NFL Pick

The NFC West-leading Arizona Cardinals face their toughest test of the season when they visit the defending Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks in a key divisional matchup on Sunday. The Cardinals have won their last six games both straight up and against the spread but have lost in three of their past four trips to Seattle.

 

Point spread: Seahawks opened as 5.5-point favorites; the total was 42 early in the week, according to sportsbooks monitored by Odds Shark. (Line updates and matchup report)

 

NFL pick, via Odds Shark computer: 28.3-26.7 Cardinals

 

Why the Cardinals can cover the spread

Arizona handed the Seahawks their only home loss last year during their run to the Super Bowl, so the team knows how to win in arguably the toughest place to play in the NFL. The Cardinals beat Seattle 17-10 in that game as eight-point road underdogs and will face similar odds in this spot.

They continue to be underrated by oddsmakers despite their league-best 9-1 record, beating the Detroit Lions last week as one-point home underdogs.

Arizona has covered the spread in eight of its past nine games, including six straight during the team’s six-game winning streak. The Cardinals are also 3-1 ATS in their last four road games against NFC West opponents.

 

Why the Seahawks can cover the spread

The Seahawks are 12-2 ATS in their past 14 home games against divisional foes and lost at home to Arizona last year with quarterback Carson Palmer under center. Palmer is out for the season with a torn ACL, so backup Drew Stanton will be tasked with trying to win at CenturyLink Field. Stanton may also have a limited group of targets to throw to with All-Pro wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald nursing a sprained MCL.

While Fitzgerald is hoping to play on Sunday, he will not be 100 percent and could just be a decoy. That does not bode well for the Cardinals going up against Seattle’s Legion of Boom secondary, which seems to play much better at home when it can feed off the crowd.

 

Smart Pick

Arizona has been a great story this year and has a much better chance to make the playoffs this season than last season. But there are no guarantees, and the Cardinals are starting the toughest stretch of their season against the Seahawks. Arizona plays four of its last six games on the road, with home games against the Kansas City Chiefs and Seattle in between.

None of the games will be easy, especially with a quarterback like Stanton who has not faced this type of pressure to succeed in his NFL career. Stanton’s lone loss in four games as Palmer’s replacement took place away from home against the Denver Broncos, another Super Bowl participant from last year. The Cardinals were blown out 41-20 in that game and will see a similar outcome here.

 

Betting Trends

  • Arizona is 5-1 ATS in its last six games on the road
  • The total has gone under in five of Seattle’s last six games when playing at home against Arizona

 

Note: All spread and odds data powered by Odds Shark – follow us on Twitter for injury updates and line move updates.

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Seattle Seahawks Failing to Support Russell Wilson Is a Recipe for Disaster

Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson wasn’t terrific in a loss Sunday to the Kansas City Chiefs, but he certainly wasn’t awful either.

He was good, and often great. He made key throws when needed to prolong drives and created positive outcomes from broken plays. He ran the read-option masterfully yet again, rushing for 71 yards. Since the Seahawks’ Week 4 bye, Wilson has recorded three 100-plus-yard rushing games, running for 484 yards in total during that stretch at a pace of 8.6 yards per carry.

He was that Wilson in a 24-20 loss that dropped Seattle back to a tie with San Francisco for third place in the NFC West. He was his normal self, complete with the same deception and elusiveness showcased almost weekly.

But this time it wasn’t enough.

It wasn’t enough because separation downfield didn’t exist.

On his 32 pass attempts, Wilson completed only four throws that resulted in gains of 15 yards or more. Running followed by more running with pounding abuse is the Seahawks’ offensive identity. But eventually stretching the field has to happen, and an inability to do that was a glaring probelm on Seattle’s final drive.

Starting from his own 5-yard line with just under three minutes remaining, Wilson pulled another whirling stunt to avoid a safety on third down and somehow find wide receiver Doug Baldwin for a 23-yard connection that gave his team brief hope. But on that drive, Wilson dropped back seven times, of which four resulted in incompletions while another was a crippling sack for a loss of eight yards.

The Seahawks couldn’t get past their own 20 and eventually turned the ball over on downs, allowing the Chiefs to kneel for the victory.

Baldwin was on the receiving end for six of Wilson’s 20 completions. With those catches, he gained only 45 yards. That’s an average of 7.5 yards per grab, and fellow wideout Jermaine Kearse wasn’t much better at 10.8 yards per catch (five receptions for 54 yards).

Remember when the Seahawks employed Percy Harvin and Golden Tate to provide downfield speed? Good times.

Wilson’s performance also wasn’t enough because of a defense that was uncharacteristically gashed on the ground and clearly reeling from the loss of defensive tackle Brandon Mebane.

Go ahead and give Mebane the name test. Say his name to a family member who doesn’t care about football. You’ll be greeted with a blank stare. But there’s a really good chance that after playing the same game with cornerback Richard Sherman’s name, he’ll be called “that guy who yelled those things, right?”

Mebane doesn’t come with nearly as much name recognition as the likes of Sherman or Seahawks safety Earl Thomas. But like those two, he’s a crucial element in Seattle’s normally punishing defense. Now he’s gone after tearing his hamstring, an absence that left a deep void immediately.

The Seahawks weren’t suffocating their opponent’s run game. They weren’t making Chiefs running backs grind and crawl for every yard, and they weren’t swarming to the ball. Instead, we saw something truly rare: The Seahawks decidedly lost physical battles again and again.

After their first two possessions, Kansas City had already accumulated 94 rushing yards. Prior to Week 11, the Seahawks were allowing only 79.8 yards on the ground per game.

The ground gushing started there and didn’t stop. The Chiefs finished with 190 rushing yards, 159 of which came from running back Jamaal Charles. He also scored twice—on each of the Chiefs’ first two drives—and chugged for two 20-plus-yard carries. One was a 47-yarder, the longest rushing gain allowed by the Seahawks this season.

Offensively, the Seahawks’ rushing identity was maintained through Wilson and running back Marshawn Lynch (124 yards at 5.1 per carry). But their core defensive identity was drained without Mebane.

Wilson wasn’t enough because the Seahawks’ fundamental recipe for winning against the highest caliber of NFL competition evaporated (the Chiefs certainly meet that description with a 7-3 record and now five straight wins).

The Seahawks win games through running, stopping the run and hitting key deep passes when needed. Of those three pillars, only one was present with the exception of Lynch getting stuffed on a crucial 4th-and-1 in the fourth quarter. Prior to that, offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell made a baffling call on 4th-and goal, asking Wilson to throw a fade that failed from the two-yard line instead of hammering away with Lynch.

Still, 204 total rushing yards is usually more than enough to secure a Seahawks win. But on this day, one strength was erased by fatal shortcomings in the two other areas.

Regaining the defensive half of their run dominance doesn’t get any easier for the now 6-4 Seahawks.

After sputtering against the league’s fourth-best rushing team Sunday, two games against the 49ers” target=”_blank”>San Francisco 49ers are still ahead, and their rushing offense is currently ranked eighth (124.8 yards per game). And although he’s struggled at times this season, Philadelphia Eagles running back LeSean McCoy (Week 14) now poses a dangerous threat to a vulnerable run defense.

According to Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times, Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll was optimistic earlier this week about middle linebacker Bobby Wagner returning for Week 12 after missing five games with a turf toe injury. Without both Mebane to occupy blockers up front and Wagner to fill running lanes, the Seattle defense isn’t nearly as physically imposing.

If that continues, Wilson being something between good and great won’t be enough. And often, Wilson being spectacular won’t be either.

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