For the first month of the season, the Seahawks largely had avoided the big injuries that had hit many other teams.
The Rams, Redskins and Vikings lost their starting quarterbacks; the Eagles and Falcons lost multiple starting linemen; the Chargers lost five key players; the Chiefs lost two starting defenders; the Panthers lost just about all of their running backs; and other stars such as Charles Tillman and Chris Long hit IR.
The worst that had happened to the Hawks was the temporary loss of their third and fourth cornerbacks. But the injury bug has bitten them pretty good the past couple of weeks.
The Dallas Cowboys came to Seattle with the 20th-ranked run defense in the league. You would think the Seahawks would have tried to exploit that weakness using their top-ranked rushing offense.
But, the same Seattle offense that ran for 225 yards on 36 attempts against Washington on Monday chose to eschew the run Sunday in a 30-23 loss. Coach Pete Carroll blamed it on losing the third-down battle, but it certainly was more than that.
True, the Hawks won just 12 of 30 third downs on both sides, which led to a 38-22 edge for Dallas in time of possession. And the defense gave up the biggest conversion — on third-and-20 — with five minutes left.
But the Hawks could have run the ball more than 18 times. Marshawn Lynch carried it just 10 — even though he averaged 6.1 yards per tote. Russell Wilson, who ran for a career-best 122 yards on 11 carries last Monday, ran it just twice for 12 yards vs. Dallas.
After watching Russell Wilson outrun Denver in overtime and use his feet to beat Washington, plenty of Seahawks fans have to be thinking: He controls the game so much when he runs, why doesn’t he do it more often?
The simple answer is he prefers to hand off to Marshawn Lynch on those read option plays and keep his eyes downfield when passing plays break down.
Most of Wilson’s running last season was out of necessity as Darrell Bevell inexplicably failed to move Wilson around behind Seattle’s battered offensive line. After rushing for 489 yards on 94 carries as a rookie — much of that on the read option in the second half of the season — Wilson ran for 539 yards on 96 carries last season.
As expected (by us anyway), this season he is running more. With 209 yards on 29 carries, he is on pace for 836 yards and 116 rushes.
Until Monday, most of Wilson’s runs had been scrambles off busted pass plays. In the 26-20 overtime win vs. Denver in Week 3, he led the Hawks to the winning touchdown on scrambles.
But against Washington, half of his runs were off zone-read keepers — a rare game in which he chose to run the ball 11 times, netting a career-high 122 yards in the 27-17 win. It was part of the plan against the Redskins.
After this season, the Seahawks figure to give a contract extension to Russell.
Wilson. Not Okung.
While the quarterback has far exceeded expectations over his first two and a quarter seasons, the left tackle has largely been underwhelming since being drafted sixth overall in 2010.
Both are signed through 2015, which means next offseason is the key time for extensions. Wilson will get his, but it’s hard to see Okung getting one — especially if he continues to struggle like he did Monday night.
The left tackle was flagged for three penalties vs. Washington, including a false start on third down that helped stop a first-quarter drive and a holding on a third-quarter drive that also fizzled.
“I’ve got to play better,” he told The Seattle Times. “I can’t afford to have three penalties. Just a lack of focus. I take full responsibility for it. I can’t help out the line making mistakes like that.”