RENTON, Wash. – The Seattle Seahawks are broken offensively in a way that could not have been anticipated during training camp or even a couple of months ago.
Seattle's 31-13 loss to San Francisco on Thursday night was the latest example of an offense that's filled with talent but is awful on third downs, inefficient in the red zone and sometimes has game plans that don't make sense.
Coach Pete Carroll sounds fed up. He came as close as he ever does to calling out a member of his coaching staff with his comments about Seattle’s offense on Friday.
“We have unique talents and we got to make sure we’re maximizing that and I feel like we’re not,” Carroll said. “I feel like we’re not seeing stuff.”
Carroll was then asked if that was a criticism of offensive coordinator Shane Waldron and his game plans.
“I just want to emphasize in that direction because we’re fighting to get it right. I want to emphasize the guys as much as we can, see if we can maximize the players even more so,” he said.
Seattle has scored just three offensive touchdowns in the last four games and failed to find the end zone against the 49ers, with its only touchdown coming on an interception return by Jordyn Brooks. Since DK Metcalf caught an 8-yard touchdown pass from Geno Smith on Seattle’s opening drive last Sunday at the Los Angeles Rams, the Seahawks have gone 20 consecutive offensive possessions without finding the end zone.
They were held to 220 yards of offense against the 49ers, the third time this season they finished with fewer than 225 yards. The creativity that helped Seattle score 37 points in consecutive wins over Detroit and Carolina earlier in the season seems to have been lost.
Injuries are clearly playing a part. But whatever solutions Waldron is trying to find don’t appear to be working.
“I’m concerned. I’m concerned about our club. I’m concerned about everything we’re doing right now. That night last night will make you challenge everything, which is why you’re asking all the questions. There’s questions to be asked and answers to be found,” Carroll said.
While most of the focus is rightfully on the struggles of the offense, Seattle’s defense offered very little resistance to San Francisco in the first half. The 49ers had 225 total yards before halftime, converted 16 first downs and scored touchdowns on three of their first five possessions.
WHAT NEEDS HELP
Find an offensive identity and stick with it. When Seattle has been at its best, it has used multiple tight ends, established the run and called play-action passes off that.
“I would like to feel the mix was good, get back to the play passes that have been so effective for us and that was a factor,” Carroll said.
Rookie Jaxon Smith-Njigba made one of the best catches of the season, a falling one-handed grab for 34 yards that converted a key third down in the second half. At that point, Seattle trailed only 24-10 and a touchdown could have changed the game. Seattle clearly wants to get the rookie more involved, but the tradeoff might cause more offensive issues.
It’s the life of an offensive coordinator to be the target for criticism. At times this season, Waldron appeared to have found his groove as a play-caller and meshed with what Smith was seeing on the field. In recent weeks, that rhythm has disappeared. Seattle’s offense was overmatched in its blowout loss to Baltimore and didn’t have counters after the opening drive last week against the Rams. The performance against San Francisco seemed to be a tipping point for Carroll.
Starting right tackle Abraham Lucas has been out since Week 1 with a knee issue. Carroll said Lucas would practice this week with the hope he can play against Dallas. His return could be vital after veteran Jason Peters left with a shoulder stinger. Carroll said Peters was feeling better on Friday.
Cornerback Riq Woolen should start against Dallas after being benched against San Francisco due to a shoulder issue.
As for running back Kenneth Walker III, who missed Thursday’s game with an oblique injury, Carroll said it’ll be late in the week before the Seahawks know if he can play against Dallas.
26.6% — In the past five games, Seattle is 17 of 65 on third downs. Not that the Seahawks were great earlier in the season, but that’s a significant drop from the first six games, when they converted around 36%.
The difficult portion of Seattle's schedule continues next Thursday at Dallas, where the Cowboys are undefeated. Then the Seahawks have a trip to San Francisco and a home game against Philadelphia. Seattle can't expect to go 0-4 in this stretch and make the playoffs.
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