The Seahawks are off to the same poor start on offense as 2016, and it’s really up to Russell Wilson to decide whether they take basically the same course as last season or do it better.
In 2016, Seattle scored one touchdown in 22 possessions vs. Miami and the L.A. Rams. This year, the Seahawks have one TD in 21 possessions vs. Green Bay and San Francisco.
In 2016, with new starters at four line spots, running backs averaged just 3.2 yards per rush in the first two games (149 yards on 47 carries), and the line gave up five sacks and 18 QB hits. This year, again with new starters at four line positions, running backs are averaging 3.6 yards per attempt (147 yards on 41 carries), and Wilson has been sacked six times and hit 17.
The Hawks converted 31 percent of their third downs (9 of 29) in Games 1 and 2 in 2016; they are at 35.5 percent (11 of 31) this year.
As you can see, it’s almost a carbon copy. The big difference: Wilson is healthy. Will the Seahawks use that to their advantage?
If not for Wilson taking over at the end of the game Sunday vs. the 49ers, the Hawks probably would have suffered their worst home loss of his tenure.
While the line certainly failed to create room in the running game and broke down a few times in front of Wilson, the quarterback was far too inaccurate vs. the Niners (he hit just 23 of 39, often overthrowing) and ran himself into two sacks. It also didn’t help that C.J. Prosise and Tanner McEvoy each dropped an easy TD pass (and another ball) or that Jimmy Graham was again a non-factor.
The Hawks finally scored a TD after more than seven quarters. And they did it only because Wilson realized the only way they were going to beat the 49ers was if he took over. He ran four times for 27 yards on the winning 82-yard drive and had to escape the 49ers’ heavy rush to hit Paul Richardson for the 9-yard TD pass.
On that drive, Wilson looked like the do-whatever-it-takes winner Seattle fans came to love from 2012 through 2014. And he needs to look like that more often going forward.
He needs to ditch the “Aw shucks, I’m a team player” mentality and take over games like only he can.
The Seahawks at least seemed to acknowledge the need to let Wilson run more, breaking out the zone read a few times vs. the 49ers. They also ran misdirection a couple of times, including the first play — although Wilson was hauled down at the line of scrimmage on the bootleg.
The Seahawks aren’t going to drop so many passes in most games, and Wilson will be more accurate than he has been in these first two games (just 56.1 percent for 356 yards).
But the Hawks need to keep that dual threat alive if they want to score more touchdowns and win more games than they won in 2016.
Chris Carson is clearly the No. 1 running back. Eddie Lacy was inactive as the Seahawks went with Carson, Thomas Rawls and Prosise. But Prosise looked bad and Rawls went nowhere (four yards on five runs) while Carson managed to churn out 93 yards by the time it was all over.
Some think Lacy might not be long for the roster, with Mike Davis a cheaper option. But Lacy’s $1.365 million salary is now guaranteed and the Hawks won’t save anything by cutting him. They can save per-game roster bonuses, though. They also are unlikely to get anyone to trade for him. Besides, they probably will still need him down the road — Rawls and Prosise will not stay healthy.
Meanwhile, expect Carson to remain the No. 1 guy. As Pete Carroll said, “I think we’ve got something.”
Jimmy Graham is off to an unlucky start. He dropped a pass vs. Green Bay and has had a couple knocked out of his hands these first two games. He also didn’t get the call in the end zone in Green Bay, and he almost suffered a serious injury to his left leg when he got tangled in a pile vs. the 49ers. Just a rough two games.
The bigger picture: He has been in Seattle for two years and the Seahawks simply have not figured out how to use him. That explains why John Schneider has eschewed giving him an extension. No need to pay $10 million to a guy you don’t know how to deploy.
Paul Richardson got hurt yet again — suffering a dislocated finger — but he came up with the winning TD. He said, “I wasn’t just trying to get out there, ‘Oh he’s tough, he’s finishing out the game.’ I wanted to go make a difference.”
After catching just one pass for eight yards in the opener, Tyler Lockett led the team with six catches for 64 yards against the 49ers. Looks like he is back from the broken leg and ready to roll.
The Seattle defense did its expected good work vs. a mostly punchless San Francisco offense, giving up just 89 passing yards, 11 first downs and 2 of 12 third downs. Bobby Wagner also picked off a pass.
However, the one failing was the run game. Carlos Hyde went over 100 yards for the second straight year in Seattle. He’s the only back to do it twice against Carroll’s Seahawks in Seattle — and he’s one of six who have gone for 100 in Seattle since 2010.
This was the eighth time Carroll’s Hawks have held a team under 100 passing yards. They did it four times in 2015. In a 2012 game, they held Minnesota to 44 — the fewest Carroll’s Seattle defense has allowed.
The Seahawks are early 2.5-point underdogs at Tennessee in Week 3. After a slow start, the Titans rolled over the Jaguars, 37-16. They held the Jags to 99 yards on 25 carries and forced three turnovers by Blake Bortles. A lot will be made of the two dual-threat QBs, Marcus Mariota and Wilson, and Wilson will really need to use his mobility to kickstart the running game in this one.