Clayton’s Takeaways: Maybe it’s time Seahawks let Jimmy Graham regroup
As bad as the Seahawks’ offense has been during the first two weeks of the season, we all might have forgotten what happened last year.
Last year, the Seahawks opened with a 12-10 home victory over the Miami Dolphins in which Russell Wilson suffered a high-ankle sprain. The next week an immobile Wilson lost a road game to the Los Angeles Rams, 9-3. That’s 15 points in two games. This year, the Seahawks have scored 21.
Safe to say, the Seahawks offense starts slow, but needs to pick it up. In Week 3 of 2016, the Seahawks beat the San Francisco 49ers 37-18 to get off to a 2-1 start. Putting up 37 points on the Tennessee Titans might be too much to ask.
Let’s look at some of the things we picked up in last Sunday’s 12-9 win over San Francisco.
• Thanks to Russell Wilson and Chris Carson, the Seahawks assembled a little bit of a running game. Despite a slow start – 38 yards on 18 carries – the Seahawks finished with 131 rushing yards on 37 carries. The running offense accomplished one of its goals, controlling the ball in the fourth quarter and wearing down the 49ers defense. Wilson led an 82-yard touchdown drive to put Seattle ahead and Carson had five straight carries in the final 5 minutes for 41 yards. After two weeks of not being able to guess the running back rotation, now the picture is clear: Carson is the starter. Thomas Rawls is slowly working his way into the rotation trying to come off his ankle injury. C.J. Prosise is the back on passing downs but he needs to catch the ball instead of the two drops he made against the 49ers. Eddie Lacy is the fourth back and most likely inactive.
• Offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell has to figure out the personality of this offense. With Lacy dropped to the fourth spot in the backfield rotation, the original plan of having a Marshawn Lynch-type power running attack is out. So what’s next? Do the Seahawks go up-tempo? That could be an option, but it has its problems. Going up-tempo could be a strain to the struggling offensive line, leading to more false starts and mental mistakes. Plus, going up-tempo with no huddle and quick snaps could force the defense to be on the field for too many plays if the offense can’t sustain drives. What’s clear is that Wilson has to take full control of the offense and mix in more runs. He had nine carries for 34 yards and three kneel downs. What’s nice about his running is how quickly he can get to the ground without getting hit.
• Maybe it’s time for tight end Jimmy Graham to get a week off to regroup. Pete Carroll said Monday that Graham is dealing with an ankle injury and his status for Sunday is uncertain. For the season, he has four catches for nine yards and a couple of drops. Graham has been working tirelessly for two years trying to come back from his patellar tendon injury. He’s lighter and should have been set up for a good start to the season. If Wilson gets a pocket, he should have good chances of getting the ball to Graham, but the mission is tougher when Wilson is scrambling for his life. Luke Willson had three catches for 25 yards and Nick Vannett has talent. No, this isn’t a time to bench Graham. He’s too skilled. But if he’s not going to be healthy, neither Graham nor the Seahawks’ offense needs him put in a position where he can’t be effective.
• The Seahawks offensive line appears to be set for its first change since the George Fant injury. You could see Ethan Pocic or Oday Aboushi replace Mark Glowinski at right guard. It’s been interesting to see which offensive linemen the Seahawks have deactivated in the first two weeks. The Seahawks kept 10 offensive linemen out of the preseason. Isaiah Battle and rookie Jordan Roos were inactive for the first two games. Aboushi was inactive Sunday against the 49ers. Pocic and Matt Tobin were active for the first two games. The line blocked better in Week 2 but Wilson still gets pressure more than 40 percent of the time.
• Sheldon Richardson has been everything the Seahawks had hoped for. He has a sack and about eight pressures in the first two games since Seattle acquired him for the Jets. The Seahawks wanted more pressure from defensive tackle in passing situations. Richardson has provided that. What was fun to watch was how the 49ers altered their blocking schemes. Primarily they double- and triple-teamed Michael Bennett, but occasionally they took some blockers away from Bennett and doubled Richardson.
Want more John Clayton? Listen on-demand to his weekday and Saturday shows as well as his “Cold Hard Facts” and “Clayton’s Morning Drive” segments on 710 ESPN Seattle. Also, check out his all-new “Schooled” podcast and look for his columns twice a week on 710Sports.com.