Seahawks coach Pete Carroll didn’t leave any room for ambiguity when he was asked Monday on “Brock and Salk” if he’d like to see Seattle’s run-pass ratio closer 50-50 next season.
“Oh yeah. Oh yeah,” Carroll said. “That wasn’t the way we want to play.”
He was referring to the the Seahawks’ imbalance on offense this past season and their fairly significant shift away from the running game that had been Seattle’s strength over the previous four seasons.
The numbers below, from the website SportingCharts.com, show the Seahawks’ rushing percentages and their NFL rank in every season under Carroll. Seattle’s offense has slowly drifted more toward the pass since 2012, which, not coincidentally, was quarterback Russell Wilson’s rookie season. But it was an especially big jump in 2016. The Seahawks ran the ball on 41.6 percent of their offensive plays, by far the lowest percentage over the last six years.
• 2016: 41.6 (17th)
• 2015: 50.6 (4th)
• 2014: 53.6 (1st)
• 2013: 54.8 (1st)
• 2012: 56.7 (1st)
• 2011: 46.6 (10th)
• 2010: 41.4 (26th)
There was a time last offseason when it seemed like Seattle may be intentionally gearing its offense more toward the pass. Marshawn Lynch was retired and the Seahawks had poured a significant amount of resources into their passing game over the last two years, giving huge deals to Wilson and Doug Baldwin and also trading for Jimmy Graham.
But the shift last season seems more circumstantial than intentional. Their offensive line was unsettled and inconsistent. Their backfield was a revolving door, with Thomas Rawls missing seven games and nine different tailbacks carrying the ball at least once. Wilson’s knee and ankle injuries made him less inclined to take off and run; he finished with 72 rushing attempts after averaging 103 over his first four seasons.
In other words: the Seahawks didn’t run the ball as much in 2016 because they couldn’t run the ball as well.
Carroll lamented after a few games how they got away from the run after some early success. But they weren’t playing from ahead as often, which sometimes forced their hand.
He said he isn’t opposed to adapting his philosophy – “if you’re static, you’re losing” – but that he’s still committed to running the ball.
“You all and your fans out there, all our fans know how we want to play,” Carroll said. “We have our way and it’s a great way to play. It’s a great style of football and we want to continue to try to excel at it. If things change us because we have options, whatever could come to us, we’ll always be looking to move. I’m not trying to be a stick in the mud about this. I’m trying to present the best formula for winning football that you could have. We’re trying to figure that out, and we know, you’ve seen us, you know this is what keeps us at the front of the league.”