By Danny O’Neil
RENTON – The wait to see Seattle’s offense at full stride is over, patience finally paying off.
When the Seahawks play Minnesota on Sunday, Seattle will see the offense that coach Pete Carroll has been hoping for all year.
Oh yeah, Percy Harvin is going to make his Seahawks’ debut, too, but his return from hip surgery is a side story compared to the rebirth of the running game that is the heartbeat of this offense.
Marshawn Lynch has averaged 6 yards per carry while gaining 270 yards over Seattle’s last two games, the highest two-week total of his career. (AP)
“We’re getting better, which is really, really exciting,” Carroll said, “because here comes the tough finish part of the season. It’s a combination of those things that got it done and we look like we’re running the football like last year right now.”
You could say the Seahawks have run away from one of their biggest problems the past two weeks except this is Marshawn Lynch we’re talking about. And he doesn’t run away from anything so much as he runs around, over and often times through it, and ever since he had a season-low eight carries on that that Monday night game in St. Louis, the running game has once again become the focal point for Seattle’s offense.
“We took a step back to take a couple of steps forward,” Carroll said. “We’re going now.”
Call it a closing kick, and the fact that Seattle has reasserted its running game is the single biggest reason to think the Seahawks are going to roll through not only this week’s game against Minnesota, but the final month and a half of the season.
Yes, the schedule will help as Seattle plays four of the final six games at home. So will the debut of Harvin, who gives the Seahawks a home-run threat capable of taking advantage of any opponent that takes a look at Seattle’s recent success running the ball and starts stacking up more defenders behind the line of scrimmage.
And that’s going to be tempting given what has happened recently.
Lynch rushed for 145 yards in Atlanta last week, a season-high. He has 270 yards over the past two games, the highest two-week total in his NFL career, so while Minnesota’s Adrian Peterson may have an edge in terms of breakaway speed, it’s Seattle’s rushing offense that appears to have turned the corner heading into Sunday’s game between the Seahawks and the Vikings.
Not that it should really be a surprise after the past two seasons. Ever since Tom Cable arrived on the coaching staff, the Seahawks have shown a heck of a closing kick in the second half of the season.
710 ESPN Seattle hosts weigh in on Seattle’s Week-11 matchup against Minnesota, finishing the sentence, “The Seahawks will win if… ”
|• Michael Grey: They have 40 or more rushing attempts.||• Dave Wyman: Seattle’s running backs outrush Adrian Peterson.||• Jim Moore: Russell Wilson throws two touchdown passes and Marshawn Lynch rushes for more than 100 yards.||• Dave Grosby: They show up.||• Bob Stelton: They don’t play down to the Vikings’ level, they contain Adrian Peterson and they build a lead, forcing Minnesota to throw the ball.||• Brock Huard: They outrush Minnesota.||• Danny O’Neil: Russell Wilson isn’t knocked out of the game by an injury.|
This time, Seattle did it without starting offensive tackles Russell Okung and Breno Giacomini, who have both missed the better part of the past two months with injury, not to mention center Max Unger, who has missed three games. The fact the Seahawks didn’t need to wait for that trio to return before beginning the turnaround is a credit to the depth that has been created.
“Our football team got a lot better through this tough time, if you will,” Cable said.
The running game is the most noticeable improvement for the team over the past two weeks, and it is the most important because three weeks ago in St. Louis, the fear was that Seattle had lost touch with its offensive identity.
This is a team that wants to run the ball first. Carroll made that clear as soon as he arrived. It’s the reason Lynch was acquired four games into Carroll’s first season and the reason Cable’s hiring in 2011 turned out to be so important.
But three weeks ago in St. Louis, the run game that was supposed to be Seattle’s identity was more of an afterthought as Lynch carried just eight times and the Seahawks finished with 135 yards of total offense – 80 coming on a single pass play to Golden Tate.
That makes what has happened these past two weeks so very significant as Seattle has gotten back in touch with the ground game that is the foundation of the offense.
“It was a process of the growth as well,” Carroll said. “We kind of had to be kicked in the tail a little bit before we took this next step.”
And now, Seattle is off and running.