The Seattle Seahawks, picked by many this year to return to the Super Bowl, are in danger of falling short of those expectations.
One issue that can be stated very clearly is that the defense is still one of the best in the NFL and if not for them, this Seahawk team wouldn’t be much to talk about.
There are three areas on offense that I believe are the issues that are preventing the Seahawks to be great instead of just barley good.
- Offensive Line
By now, everyone must realize just how special of a running back that Marshawn Lynch really was. His running style hid many deficiencies the offensive line had in the past. Because of his retirement, it shows just how bad of a decision it is that John Schneider and Pete Carroll have made to not properly invest in the one area that is critical for all plays to succeed: The offensive line.
The starting offensive line accounts for a mere 7% of the Seahawks salary cap. At $10.2 million, it is the lowest in the league. My question is that why would you go on the cheap in the one spot where any offensive play has any chance of succeeding?
The Seahawks have not, in the past three to five years, made the offensive line a priority. It is confusing as to why Pete Carroll, whose philosophy is to run the ball, eat up the clock and play great defense. It worked just fine when Marshawn Lynch was the running back as he gave you the luxury of having an inadequate line with his running style.
Also, because of Lynch, the passing game was successful because defenses would stack the line but would freeze on play-action passing plays which led to some big plays downfield.
Tom Cable, the offensive line coach of the Hawks, stated back I August that he feels this is one of his favorite lines he’s coached. That they have some good players that have a chance to develop and be good NFL linemen.
That’s just great…meantime, after 7 games, the offense is averaging an anemic 81.4 yards per game, 28th in the NFL, and have had only 2 rushes longer than 20 yards.
They are better in the passing game, ranked 14th in the NFL at 258.4 yards per game but that’s only because they can’t run the ball.
And they cannot get the ball into the end zone where they are 29th in the NFL at 18.7 points per game.
- Jimmy Graham
We gave up a very good center in Max Unger to get Jimmy Graham and yet the Seahawks have not found a way to use him. In his 5 years with the New Orleans Saints, Graham averaged 77.2 receptions per year, 950.4 yards per year, 12.2 yards per catch and 10.2 touchdowns per season while playing an average of 15.6 games each year.
In comparison to his 1-1/2 years in Seattle, he has averaged 39 catches per year, 532 yards per year, 13.7 yards per catch and a measly 1.5 touchdowns per year. It is inconceivable to me that the Seahawks, who brought Graham in to be more of a red zone threat, don’t throw to him more often.
A friend of mine wants some reporter to ask Pete Carroll in one of the press conferences he uses is why can’t you use Jimmy Graham correctly? If Pete can’t answer the question, then we should trade Graham to get either multiple picks to use on the offensive line or for a good left tackle.
Which brings into light Russell Wilson. While Wilson has made some great plays, he doesn’t appear to have the ability to throw receivers open and does not have the confidence in his arm to throw into traffic. Drew Brees utilized Graham’s 6-7, 265 lbs. body perfectly, throwing to areas that only Graham could get to using his basketball skills.
Case in point, during the last game against the Saints and the last drive of the game, Graham was thrown a pass from Wilson that was at his waist. Graham made the catch but had to slow down to adjust for it and was tackled when he could have made it into the end zone. Brees would have thrown that pass above Graham’s head and in stride to allow Graham to walk into the end zone.
My suggestion on how to get Graham more involved? That leads to the third area:
- The Play Calling of Offensive Coordinator Darrell Bevell
When Marshawn Lynch was here, Bevell’s job was much easier as was Tom Cable’s.
But Lynch is gone and now the limitations of Bevell’s play calling is evident. His refusal (or is it Pete Carroll’s refusal?) to take shots downfield and rely on an anemic running game is becoming laughable.
My suggestion to Bevell and to Pete Carroll is to move Jimmy Graham out to wide receiver and with Luke Willson injured, start either Nick Vannett or Brandon Williams at TE. This will give the Seahawks a big bodied receiver on the outside who can run a 4.5 forty up against smaller cornerbacks and safeties.
It also helps improve the offensive line with a better blocking tight end, more chances for Doug Baldwin in the slot and you can either place Jerome Kearse, another big receiver or Tyler Lockett as a burner down the field.
This would also help the running game as linebackers would need to drop back into more coverage and not allow defenses to stack the line to stop the run. And both Williams and Vannett can be used on TE screens just to make it that much more difficult for defenses to know what the Hawks are going to do.
I think that Bevell can be the right play caller for the Hawks. But he needs to convince Carroll, if they are going to continue down this path of spending the least amount of money on the offensive line, then they need to give that line all the help they can.
The Seahawks need to do something. Relying on the defense to keep them in and hope the offense to pull some miracle each game is no way to run a football team.