Heaps: Seahawks ‘don’t really have a choice’ but to be a run-first team

Oct 20, 2021, 9:28 AM
Seahawks RB Alex Collins...
Seahawks RB Alex Collins rushes ahead of Devin Bush of the Pittsburgh Steelers during the third quarter at Heinz Field. (Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
(Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)

With star quarterback Russell Wilson out for the Seahawks on Sunday and Geno Smith getting the start against the Pittsburgh Steelers, the offense struggled mightily to move the ball in the first half.

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But in the second half, Seattle really emphasized running the football and it worked out quite well for the Seahawks, who put up 20 points in the second half to force overtime in an eventual 23-20 loss.

Alex Collins led the way with over 100 yards and a touchdown, but fellow running backs Travis Homer and DeeJay Dallas each accounted for 50 or more yards of total offense as well. This was big for a number of reasons, but especially with Wilson and starting running back Chris Carson out of action for at least three weeks.

After the game and on Monday, head coach Pete Carroll made it clear that the Seahawks need to run the ball going forward. But can they be effective while doing so, just like they were against the Steelers in Week 6? Former NFL quarterback Jake Heaps shared his thoughts on 710 ESPN Seattle’s Jake and Stacy on Tuesday.

“They are going to have to be,” Heaps said bluntly. “I know this was the proclamation that Pete Carroll made it after the game and really in the second half and that’s how they were able to ultimately get themselves back in the ballgame with a chance to win, but they are going to have to be.”

And it all starts up front at the line of scrimmage with the Seahawks’ offensive line, Heaps said. That was a group Carroll praised a number of times Monday morning for really taking the game over.

“This offensive line is going to have to play like they did in the second half where they are working extremely well together, their combination blocks are on the same page and they are able to win the six-inch battle at the line of scrimmage,” Heaps said. “Those guys up front are going to be the key to them being a successful run-first team while Geno Smith is the quarterback for this group.”

The loss of Carson, Heaps said, also makes it more difficult to really emphasize the run game and be effective while doing so.

“It puts pressure on you when Chris Carson isn’t even in the lineup, so you are relying on Alex Collins, who did a great job,” he said. “You are relying on Rashaad Penny, Travis Homer, DeeJay Dallas. These guys have to step up in a big way in order for them to be successful.”

And if it doesn’t work out?

“The risk that you run is you are constantly behind the sticks, you are constantly behind schedule and you’re coming up on situations that you want to avoid desperately, which is third-and-long situations with Geno Smith,” Heaps said. “When Pete Carroll said this, I think it makes a lot of sense and they’re going up against an incredible challenge this week against the New Orleans Saints on Monday night football. They are going to have to be. They don’t really have a choice right now.”

Listen to the second hour of Tuesday’s Jake and Stacy at this link or in the player below.

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Heaps: Seahawks ‘don’t really have a choice’ but to be a run-first team