Heaps: Importance of running game in Seahawks’ offense on display in loss to Titans

Sep 20, 2021, 2:58 PM

Seahawks RB Chris Carson...

Titans LB Rashaan Evans attempts to stop Seahawks RB Chris Carson shy of a touchdown during the second quarter. (Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

(Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

When the Seahawks and Titans faced off in Week 2, it was a matchup between two teams that have shown they want to run the ball.

While Tennessee struggled on the ground early, star back Derrick Henry wound up rushing for 182 yards and three touchdowns. For Seattle, the run game never got going. Lead back Chris Carson had two touchdowns but wound up tallying just 31 yards on 13 carries on the day.

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The run game’s struggles were even more glaring after the game due to the Seahawks’ struggles offensively in the second half. Seattle entered the third quarter up 24-9, but Tennessee controlled the clock and forced overtime at 30-30 before kicking a game-winning field goal.

Former NFL quarterback Jake Heaps pointed to the run game when examining why Seattle struggled so mightily on offense in the second half in the team’s loss to Tennessee.

“I really believe that is has to do with their first down production,” he said on Monday’s edition of 710 ESPN Seattle’s Jake and Stacy. “They were not great on first down, which set up a lot of third-and-longs for them, which is not an advantageous situation whatsoever. It just really goes to show to me that the running game is so vital to (offensive coordinator) Shane Waldron and this offense.”

In Week 1, Carson and the Seahawks had 140 yards on the ground and were very balanced on offense. But Carson never got going against the Titans, and after finding success through the air in the game’s first two quarters, quarterback Russell Wilson couldn’t find his weapons nearly as consistently in the second half.

“It allows everything else to open up,” Heaps said of the run game. “I’ll be curious to see how they approach this moving forward in terms of not how committed they are to the running game, but in their style, in their way because they didn’t deviate from their plan. They wanted to be in 12 personnel (one running back and two tight ends), they wanted to try and run the ball downhill in their outside zone scheme. They didn’t deviate from that at all when it was not successful.”

When it came to running on first down, Carson got 11 of his 13 carries on the down, and he rushed for just 2.6 yards per carry on the down.

“Not great,” Heaps said. “And everything else – the play-action game, the naked bootleg game, the screen game – everything is predicated off that run game being successful, especially on first down.”

The run game wasn’t the only big issue Heaps had with the Seahawks on offense from the third quarter until the game’s conclusion, though.

“Also, just ill-timed plays. You look at third-and-3 for this Seahawks offense and you throw a 50-50 ball to DK (Metcalf)?” Heaps said. “DK is pretty special, but that’s also not a high-percentage play. There’s not another play that could have been called in that moment that would have been better on third-and-3 in that moment?”

There was also a major difference in how the offense looked before the snap between Week 1 and Week 2.

“There wasn’t as much motion,” Heaps said. “I didn’t see the same level of creativity that we saw in Week 1, and that was concerning to me.”

Listen to the full conversation in the podcast at this link or in the player below.

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Heaps: Importance of running game in Seahawks’ offense on display in loss to Titans