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Clayton’s Observations: Seahawks establishing identity with run game, O-line

Seahawks RB Chris Carson has had two 100-plus yard games this year. (AP)

Even though the Seahawks lost 33-31 to the Los Angeles Rams Sunday, 33-31, there were a lot of positives.

Going in, most people thought it was going to be a Rams blowout. Oddsmakers had the Rams a 7 1/2 point favorite even though the game was in Seattle, so when the Rams blocked Michael Dickson’s punt early in the first quarter and drove for a short touchdown, it looked as though the blowout might be on.

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That wasn’t the case. The Seahawks battled the Rams until the end in a physical, fun game.

Here are some of things to review.

• The commitment to the run is working. The Seahawks rushed for 190 yards on 32 attempt, with Chris Carson getting 116 yards on 19 carries and Mike Davis 68 yards and a touchdown on 12 carries. What I thought was important were the runs on first down – the Seahawks had 18 first-down runs for 95 yards. Believe it or not, the Seahawks currently rank ninth in the league rushing.

As I noted last week, I thought it was more important to establish the run and keep improving than trying to get into worrying about play-action passes or tricky offensive plays. Establishing the run led into play-action passing success for Russell Wilson against the Rams, getting the ball to David Moore and Tyler Lockett.

• The offensive line is gaining an identity for being physical. D.J. Fluker went against Ndamukong Suh and neutralized him. On the Davis touchdown run, Fluker pancaked Suh. Meanwhile, Wilson was sacked only two times.

• Have you noticed the changes at wide receiver? Moore, who had three catches for 38 yards and two touchdowns, was on the field for 31 plays and has moved into the No. 3 WR position. Jaron Brown had only eight plays, while Brandon Marshall, who has had problems with drops, was down to seven plays.

• George Fant helped out the blocking scheme by having 12 plays as a tight end. The Seahawks have one more week before they get Ed Dickson off the NFI list. Nick Vannett, who is the No. 1 tight end spot due to injuries to Dickson and Will Dissly, had a nice game with three catches for 43 yards.

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• Pete Carroll has to clean up some tackling and alignment issues on defense. Even though the numbers looked bad (468 yards allowed), there were plenty of encouraging things to see on defense. As it turned out, the Seahawks didn’t need a third linebacker. The Rams were in three-receiver sets through out and the Seahawks countered with nickel formations.

Linebackers Bobby Wagner and Barkevious Mingo had excellent games. Despite a couple of misplays, Tedric Thompson did well at free safety in his first game replacing Earl Thomas. Despite losing 12 pounds because of food poisoning, defensive end Frank Clark also had a great game.

• One thing that needs to improve is the pass rush. Rams quarterback Jared Goff dropped back 33 times to pass, was sacked just once and hurried only three times. Part of that is scheme. The Rams offense is designed for Goff getting the ball off quickly.

• For those critical of Carroll for not taking back the time out in the final two minutes, stop. An official came over to Pete and asked him if he wanted to take back the time out while they were going to measure for the fourth-and-1. Had he taken back the time out, the clock would have gone from 1:39 to 1:06.

If the Seahawks were going to get the punt, 66 seconds isn’t a lot of time to make a field goal drive from their side of the field. The Seahawks needed the time. Sure, the delay with the measurement gave the Rams players time to talk to coach Sean McVay into going for the fourth down, but you have to give Wilson some time to manage the field goal drive.

O’Neil: Seahawks’ final timeout in loss to Rams wasn’t the wrong call

John Clayton on 710 ESPN Seattle
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