Seahawks Takeaways: Sharing the load on offense paying off in 2 ways
The Seahawks cruised to a 40-3 win over the Jets on Sunday, and while it’s hard to figure out just what to take from a victory over a winless opponent, there are at least a few worthwhile observations.
Notably, there’s one offensive trend that hopefully sticks around and one injury that looms over Week 15.
Here are four takeaways as the Seahawks begin their new week.
The Seahawks’ offense looks more dangerous when Russell Wilson spreads the love.
Yes, any playoff-caliber offense is going to look like a world beater against a Jets defense that ranks 31st against the pass. But it was still encouraging to see so many pass catchers get work in.
As much as fans loved seeing Tyler Lockett go off for 200 receiving yards against the Arizona Cardinals or DK Metcalf rack up 177 yards against the Philadelphia Eagles, the offense felt even more potent against the Jets because those targets were more widely distributed. Wilson targeted seven Seahawks, with all having at least 20 receiving yards and four different receivers catching a touchdown.
The beauty of the Carson-Hyde combination
Splitting the carries may not leave your best halfback on the field as often, but it’s keeping him healthy. Chris Carson is in a contract year and undoubtedly wants as many carries as he can get, but unfortunately for him in that respect, Seattle has stuck with the rotation of Carson and Carlos Hyde.
It’s hard to justify holding Carson out when he was averaging 6.3 yards per carry against New York, but splitting the workload is in Seattle’s best interest right now. Last year, the Seahawks re-signed Marshawn Lynch in a scramble to add depth after losing Carson, Rashaad Penny, and C.J. Prosise all to injury just before the playoffs. Lynch was serviceable in place of them, but that hit to their running back room was at least one contributing factor to their divisional round exit.
This year, Seattle has a chance to have Carson and Hyde both healthy and get Penny back just in time for a playoff push.
Did Brandon Shell just become one of the Seahawks’ most important players?
It certainly feels that way as Seattle prepares to face a ruthless Washington defensive line.
In hindsight, the acquisition of Shell earlier this spring didn’t get nearly as much attention as it deserved. He’s been a solid starter all year – and has committed significantly fewer penalties than his predecessor – but he was forced out of Sunday’s game after re-injuring his ankle and his status for Seattle’s road trip against Washington remains uncertain. Seattle could be down to its fourth-string right tackle if Cedric Ogbuehi and Jamarco Jones remain out, which is great news… if you’re Chase Young.
It’s worth noting Pete Carroll heaped some praise on backup Chad Wheeler earlier this week.
“He’s been really important to us because he’s really flexible too,” Carroll said during a Monday press conference. “He played left and right (tackle) in this game (against the Jets) and he’s also prepared to play at guard for us. So his versatility has become really important here down the stretch as we try to keep everybody healthy.”
To his credit, Wheeler (playing at left tackle) made a heads up play in Sunday’s matchup, moving quickly to recover a Seahawks fumble in the fourth quarter.
The defense has made a legitimate turn, but they’re still waiting for their biggest test.
The defense has taken a huge step forward since the halfway point of the season. The Seahawks lead the league in sacks since Week 8 and have cut their yards allowed per game from 472 at their worst – by far exceeding the abysmal record set by the New Orleans Saints in 2011 – to 390.3. That’s still 27th in the league, but consider that they’ve shaved over 80 yards from that average.
The thing is, though, their best performances have been against the league’s worst offenses.
The good news is they’ve done what a good team should do: beat those teams and perform well in those wins. But they’ll need a dominant performance against an offense like the Los Angeles Rams before they’ll get much more credit from critics. The Rams, Seattle’s opponent in Week 16, are fifth in yards per game. Washington ranks near the bottom of the league in both yards and points per game, but that’s a bit misleading. Four of Washington’s six highest-scoring contests have come after Week 10, and its won every game where the defense held an opponent to 17 points or fewer (six times, including four times since Week 11).