If the Seahawks don’t fix their offense this week, they are in deep trouble the rest of the way. As in, they could go 1-4 in December and January, finish 9-7 and miss the playoffs.
Washington’s upset win over erstwhile undefeated Pittsburgh on Monday showed the team formerly known as Redskins will be maybe the toughest of the NFC Least clubs the Hawks face. WFT has perhaps the best defensive line in the league, and comeback QB Alex Smith has gone 3-1 as the starter.
The Hawks will go to DC after hosting the winless Jets this week. Then come the tough division games against the Rams in Seattle and the 49ers in a place to be determined (the 49ers are playing this month in Arizona). Those last three games will be challenges for a Seattle team that has been struggling on defense all season and has lost its offensive power over the past month.
After averaging a league-best 34 points in the first eight games, the Hawks have scored 19.8 the past four (24th in the league).
Pete Carroll and Russell Wilson admit they have been stubborn about their preferred deep-ball approach. They really have limited their offense to DK Metcalf. Last week, we talked about the need for a balanced attack and continued use of misdirection and quick passes.
Over the past two games, Brian Schottenheimer’s scripted first series has included quick passing, which has gotten the Hawks down the field (they have stalled in the red zone). But then he has gone away from the quick passing game, trying to throw deep or using short route concepts that have been easily covered. And he has not run the ball nearly enough.
Chris Carson, despite running on a sore foot, did well against the Giants. He averaged five yards, but Schotty gave him just 13 carries. Carroll and Wilson admitted that was not enough. Schotty notably eschewed running Carson up the middle on fourth-and-1 in the third quarter. That came after the Giants had taken an 8-5 lead, and the Giants then turned the short field (Seattle 48) into another quick TD and a 14-5 lead that would have been good enough to win because Seattle scored only once more.
Wilson was asked why he didn’t change the play to a run and admitted, “Going back on it, I think we probably should go downhill, let Chris run over somebody.” Ya think?
The Hawks have been pass-heavy all season. Early on, they were jumping on teams and scoring a lot of points – and they still had the threat of run before Carson and Carlos Hyde got hurt in the overtime loss to Arizona.
Then Schotty put it all on Wilson, who pressed too much and started turning the ball over like crazy – he has the most turnovers (12) in the NFL since Week 7.
Schotty found some better balance in the second Arizona game after Hyde returned (Seattle ran for 165 yards). And he ran it 30 times against Philly, but the banged-up offensive line struggled against the Eagles’ strong front. Then Schotty totally regressed against the Giants, making Wilson drop back 55 times. The QB has looked hesitant and skittish for the past few weeks, even when he has had plenty of time to throw the ball.
Because they stuck with the deep pass against the Giants, Wilson ended up holding the ball for far too long and getting sacked even when the line – down to its fourth right tackle — did a good job.
Hopefully Carroll, Schotty and Wilson have figured out why they are failing before they face three top-10 defenses to finish the season.
It sounds like they are planning to run the ball more, at least. Carroll said Carson’s foot is feeling much better, and “I think this week is really a time when we have a chance to just cut him loose and he can take the full load.”
That’s a start. Add in quick passes and misdirection, and the offense would get back in gear. If Schotty doesn’t do all of that – if he stubbornly keeps pounding his head against Cover 2 shells that neuter the deep passing game – the Hawks are going to lose most of their remaining games and possibly miss the playoffs.