As the Seattle Seahawks try to figure out a way forward offensively after cratering in the second half of the year, quarterback Russell Wilson says he thinks one of the reasons for that dip in production was due to the offense becoming too passive.
In an interview with Colin Cowherd of FOX Sports, Wilson gave several reasons as to why the offense suddenly couldn’t move the ball or score as efficiently as it had in the first half of the year when Wilson was considered to be a front-runner for MVP. But perhaps the most interesting part of his answer was the comment about the offense becoming too passive.
“I think the thing for us, we had such an electric, amazing start at the beginning of the year. We were able to do everything. We went for it every game, every play, every possession,” Wilson said. “We hit some bumps in the road. I could have played better. I should have played better. I can do my part, too, obviously, as well. I think what happened was that we had several guys go down up front, we didn’t have our starters, necessarily, and everything else.
“But also as our defense kept continuing to play better, that’s the time for us to really take off and keep going and keep preparing at the highest level. That’s something we really wanted to be able to do throughout the rest of the season. Unfortunately, we didn’t go for it as much, I don’t think. I think we got a little bit passive. And we got to make sure that never happens again. We got to make sure we do everything we can to be playing this Sunday. That’s what it takes. We got great players, we got our best players, we got to let it go, go for it and everything else.
“I think on offense, we didn’t adjust great throughout those tough (games). We had a couple games we could have adjusted better. That was last year, and I think that ultimately this offseason is really about ‘How can I be the best version of myself?’ And across the board. Ultimately, like I said, my mindset is we should be playing today – or I should say this weekend – so I think that’s really what matters most to me. When I wake up every day, every morning, you have that itch.”
The Seahawks averaged 34.25 points per game over the first eight games of the season in compiling a 6-2 start to the year. Over their final nine games, including a playoff loss to the Los Angeles Rams, the production plummeted to just 22.8 points per game. Take out a 40-point effort against a then winless New York Jets team and the average drops to just 20.6 points per game, essentially two touchdowns a game less than they managed the first half of the year.
There could be a problem in that Wilson and head coach Pete Carroll don’t appear to view the reason for the dip the same way. While both have said they didn’t do enough to adapt to what defenses were throwing at them the second half of the year, Wilson thinks the offense throttled down. Carroll has said that he thinks they didn’t pivot quickly or effectively enough to get more balanced when teams were taking away their deep passing game with certain coverages.
“I want to see if we can run the ball more effectively to focus the play of the opponents and see if we can force them to do things like we’d like them to do more, like we have been able to do that in the past,” Carroll said after the season. “That doesn’t mean we’re going to run the ball 50 times a game. It means we need to run the ball with direction and focus and style that allows us to dictate the game.
“I mean I just, frankly, I’d like to not play against two-deep looks all season long next year. And so we have to be able to get that done. It’s not just the running game. It is the style of passes that will help us some, but we have to get after it a little bit differently. As it unfolded in the end of the season, it became really obvious. In the last four or five games, it became really obvious.”
The Seahawks did not suddenly shift to a “three yards and a cloud of dust” offense in the second half of the year. They became a relatively bad passing team. Counting all Wilson’s attempts, scrambles and sacks, Seattle was still calling pass plays at over a 60 percent rate in the second half the year. Chris Carson never had more than 16 attempts in a game all season. Only three times all year did they have more rushing attempts than passes in a game, two of which came in the first five weeks.
Wilson was completing 71 percent of his passes with 28 touchdowns and eight interceptions though the first eight games. Over the final nine, he completed just 64 percent of his attempts with 14 touchdowns and six interceptions.
The team needs to game-plan better and get better play out of its offensive line. Wilson will need to play better too.
The Seahawks fired Brian Schottenheimer after the season and hired Shane Waldron to run the unit moving forward. He will be tasked with finding the right way to move the group forward while melding Carroll’s and Wilson’s views on what needs to be fixed to get the offense back in form.