Clayton: Stop panicking — it will take time for Seahawks’ offense to establish identity
It’s been an interesting week for Seahawks fans.
Though the games haven’t been pretty, the Seahawks have a two-game winning streak with victories over Dallas and Arizona. What’s been unusual has been the critiques of the offense.
Some are complaining Russell Wilson isn’t running enough, while others criticize the team for not throwing more play-action passes. Some are wrongfully thinking first-round running back Rashaad Penny is a bust after four games in which he hasn’t had the chance to consistently get series of carries.
This offense is going to take time to establish its identity. At the moment, execution is more important than creativity. During the first two games, the Seahawks didn’t run the ball. In the past two games, they have emphasized the rush and have seen back-to-back 100-yard games by running backs.
During that time, positive things started happening along the offensive line. J.R. Sweezy took over at left guard, which sets up a comfortable combination with center Justin Britt (Britt played next to Sweezy when he came into the league as a right tackle). They worked well together back then and seemed to be working well right now. Meanwhile, Germain Ifedi has quietly gotten better at right tackle.
The Rams come to town with everything going their way. They have the league’s hottest offense and a much improved defense.
Here are some things to watch:
• The Seahawks defense will have to be creative to contain the Rams’ prolific offense. Los Angeles is leading the league in the use of three-receiver sets. That figures — they are great with Robert Woods, Brandin Cooks and Cooper Kupp. They’ve run 242 plays (60.5%) out of the “11” formation. No other team has more than 200.
That’s where creativity will be in vogue. K.J. Wright remains out at weakside linebacker because of a knee injury. Mychal Kendricks filled in for three weeks but he’s now suspended. That leaves Austin Calitro. My guess is the Seahawks will use mostly nickel defense mixed in with some three safety looks. The Seahawks brought back safety Maurice Alexander and actually listed him as a weakside linebacker. He did some work at big nickel during the preseason. Plus, he’s a former Ram and a veteran.
• The one way the Seahawks could win is to run the ball and run it a lot. Brian Schottenheimer loves the formula of having a combination of running play and pass completions that total 53. To have a chance, the Seahawks must come close to that number. They don’t need to worry as much about the average gain per carry; they just need 30 to 35 running plays. They’ll have the options of using a now-healthy Chris Carson, Mike Davis, and Penny.
• After losing tight end Will Dissly in the Cardinals game, the Seahawks had to use tackle George Fant as their backup tight end. Fant is probably going to be the backup Sunday, although they also brought Darrell Daniels off the practice squad to help out. Fant played tight end in college, but he would only be a blocking tight end if used. Overall, the team is gaining more confidence in Fant and he’s knocking on the door for playing time.
• Doug Baldwin helped Russell Wilson’s completion percentage with his return against the Cardinals. He should add more this week. Brandon Marshall has struggled the last couple of weeks catching the ball. If that continues, David Moore could get more playing time.
• Rams coach Sean McVay will do his best to confuse free safety Tedric Thompson now that he’s taking over for an injured Earl Thomas. McVay’s game is using decoy routes and motion to open up the offense. Thompson can’t bite too much off the motion or he will be beaten deep.