Category Archives: X’s & O’s

Special changes could net big returns

NFL draftIn the last two weeks, the Seahawks’ special teams have undergone a major upgrade — and they might get better yet.

Sure, the field goal game is again a question — the team apparently relying on a 40-year-old who missed last season with a back injury and can’t kick from 50 anymore. But the rest could be really strong, thanks to a new punter, another dynamic returner and potentially big rule changes.

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Familiar enforcers will drive Carroll’s club

Pete Carroll and Russell Wilson plan to be clapping about their offense a lot this season (Getty Images)After a steady three-year slide that ended with Seattle out of the playoffs this season, Pete Carroll apparently is ready to re-forge control of his team and re-establish his principles.

Carroll recently said he plans to make his team more disciplined while rejuvenating a once-strong running game that is the identity of the offense.

To do that, he needed some new voices in his coaching staff. So he reportedly is bringing in some familiar enforcers who will command players’ attention and be loyal to Carroll’s approach to winning.

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O-line expert: Cable & Bevell were passive, predictable

Cable and CarrollTom Cable’s offensive line failed because it was passive and predictable and did not use the players’ skills as well as it should have, and the lack of creativity by Cable and Darrell Bevell made it easy for defenses to beat Seattle — according to some great analysis by former Seattle first-round tackle Ray Roberts on 710 ESPN.

Roberts confirmed what we have said for a long time: Cable’s zone scheme has not worked partly because the Seahawks have not incorporated enough pre-snap motion. There has been almost no misdirection to make defenses wonder what is coming.

“There’s no other thing for linebackers or defenders to read,” Roberts said of the running game. “They know exactly where it’s going and they can come right downhill and defend it.”

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Will missing playoffs motivate Carroll to make changes?

Cable and CarrollIf one positive comes from Seattle’s playoff streak ending after five years, it appears it might be Pete Carroll finally figuring out that it’s time to change some of his coaching approach (and maybe coaches).

“Unfortunately, the truth came out that you do get what you emphasize,” he said last week, admitting he has preached so much about finishing strong that he has ignored starting well. He also lamented Seattle’s team-record penalty count and poor running game and made fixes for those issues his offseason priorities.

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This has been Wilson’s worst December

logo-arizonaA month ago, many were touting Russell Wilson as an MVP candidate. Then he had the worst December of his career.

The MVP chants were all based on the fact that Wilson has been Seattle’s entire offense this season. With a game left, he has represented 81.6 percent of the offense (4,312 of 5,286 yards). That number is just 0.2 percent off the league record (held, oddly, by one-time Seahawk Jon Kitna). Wilson also has accounted for 35 of the team’s 36 touchdowns.

But here’s the real lesson from those stats: Seattle’s coaches have put way too much on Wilson’s shoulders, and he finally collapsed under that pressure. In some ways, this has been his worst NFL season.

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For Hawks, first downs are worst downs

Logo -- Los AngelesThe Seahawks have been one of the worst first-half offenses in the league this season, ranking 25th with 8.5 points. That’s nine points less than the Rams, who play in Seattle today in what is almost a must-win for the Seahawks.

A big reason the Hawks have failed so miserably in the first half is their inability to do anything on first down.

For full games, they are the second-worst rushing team in the NFL on first down, and Russell Wilson is having the worst season of his six-year career for first-down passing.

The loss to Jacksonville last week exemplified the issues they have had there, while also providing a glimmer of hope that they might be close to fixing the problem.

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After same start as 2016, will Wilson run more?

Logo -- San FranciscoThe 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?

Continue reading After same start as 2016, will Wilson run more?