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How can Seahawks’ offense be aggressive without putting the ball at risk?

Jake Heaps wants the Seahawks to operate with more tempo against the Rams. (Getty)

It’s no longer news that after starting the season horrid, the Seahawks’ defense has turned things around in a big way while the offense, which started the season on fire, has struggled to sting together drives and find big plays over the second half of the season.

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After averaging 34.25 points per game in their first eight games (scoring under 30 points just one time), the Seahawks have averaged 23.125 points per game in their last eight games. A big reason why? Less explosive plays, primarily in the deep passing game.

At the beginning of the season, quarterback Russell Wilson looked like an MVP candidate, slinging the ball all over the field and finding receivers DK Metcalf, Tyler Lockett and David Moore deep downfield on a seemingly routine basis.

But the last half of the season saw Seattle’s offense struggle to find those big gains, and instead of forcing the ball downfield, the Seahawks’ offense looks a bit like the offense of old with more runs and more of an emphasis on time of possession and taking care of the football. That has coincided with the defense’s recent hot streak, where that group has allowed an average of 16 points per game over the last eight games of 2020.

Now, the Seahawks enter the playoffs as the NFC’s No. 3 seed after finishing 12-4 and winning the NFC West. Seattle appears to be a legit Super Bowl contender, but the team faces a formidable foe in the first round of the playoffs in the Los Angeles Rams and their top-ranked defense.

Former NFL quarterback Jake Heaps thinks that despite the Rams’ ferocious defense, the Seahawks can make plays down the field and still be aggressive. He explained what the offense needs to do on Saturday.

“You’re going to have to take calculated shots down the field,” he said Friday on 710 ESPN Seattle’s Jake and Stacy. “I thought they did a really good job last time around of taking calculated shots down the field, they just weren’t able to connect. They will do that again.”

In two games against the Rams this season, the Seahawks have scored a total of 36 points, and big plays have been hard to come by. And while taking shots downfield is one way to stay aggressive on offense, Heaps thinks there’s something else Seattle can get back to on offense that will help in a big way without Wilson putting the ball at risk of being intercepted by the Rams.

“In order to keep the aggressiveness to this offense, I really think you have to fuel that offense with tempo,” he said. “… It doesn’t mean you play with high pace all the time throughout the game, but it’s that you are able to switch it up in a drive, you’re able to get the tempo up, you’re keeping the Rams’ defense guessing with how they need to approach the line of scrimmage.”

We typically see the Seahawks operate with more tempo on offense near the end of close games, and  more often than not, that seems to work, with Seattle being downright dominant in one-score games over the last two seasons. Heaps thinks that playing with more tempo is a perfect counter to the Rams’ defense.

“When you’re able to do that and you’re able to limit (defensive coordinator) Brandon Staley and this group from being able to substitute and change personnel and perfectly line up against your offense, it puts them more in a bind,” he said. “It’s really hard to put this Rams defense in bad situations. The most success they’ve had versus the Rams is when they’ve been more aggressive with their tempo overall, so that’s what I really am wanting to see.”

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