Clayton: Seahawks’ struggling offense has 2 big issues to fix

Nov 28, 2021, 10:42 AM | Updated: 10:49 am
Seahawks Russell Wilson...
Seahawks QB Russell Wilson walks to the huddle during Seattle's 17-0 loss to Green Bay in Week 10. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
(Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)

Coaches will tell you the NFL has evolved into a game in which the key elements are success in the red zone and on third down. That’s where the 3-7 Seahawks have been in trouble.

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Seattle is 31st in the league with a conversion rate of just 32.4% on third down. Only Jacksonville is worse.

In the red zone, they’re tied for fifth in the NFL by scoring touchdowns on 66.7% of their trips, but that amounts to just 16 touchdowns, which ranks 26th in the league. They just haven’t had many touchdowns in general lately.

To salvage something this year, the Seahawks need to get better in both areas. That’s what it’s coming down to. You’ve seen the turnovers and mistakes they’ve made. They’ve had interceptions. They’ve had to settle for a few too many field goals. For the Seahawks to be able to win, they have to be able to score. That needs to start Monday night against the Washington Football Team.

This game against Washington (4-6) is win or else for both teams. If the Seahawks drop to 3-8 they are going to go into rebuilding mode for next year.

The key for the Seahawks is getting down into the red zone, which has been a problem. The Seahawks have only made 24 trips into the red zone, tied for third-worst in the league. And on third down in the red zone, they are only 2 for 10, which is worst in the league.

Because of the offensive problems, the Seahawks are averaging only 55 plays a game on offense. That’s the worst in the league by far. Against Washington, they need to convert more third downs, do better on first and second down, and get more plays.

The amazing part of this matchup against Washington is that it’s between two division winners from last year. Now, the primetime meeting isn’t between two of the NFC’s top franchises but instead two teams just trying to stay alive for the conference’s seventh playoff spot.

Washington isn’t the same team as last year. It was the No. 2 defense in the league in 2020 but now has one of the worst defenses in the league. The defensive line featured four former No. 1 picks, but it doesn’t have Chase Young and Montez Sweat, who are on the injured reserve list and out for the season. Washington also lost quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick for the season with a hip injury, though Taylor Heinicke has done a decent job of running the offense.

Heinicke provides good leadership. He’s done a decent job in the short passing game even though Washington has had injuries at wide receiver and tight end. The Seahawks’ defense has to make sure he can’t get into a game in which he’s completing short passes and screen passes. That’s been a problem for most of the season.

This is a vital game for the Seahawks. They need to win.

Seahawks vs Washington Football Team

The Seahawks travel to Washington, D.C., for a 5:15 Monday night game in Week 12 of the NFL season. Coverage of the game will air live on 710 ESPN Seattle and KIRO Radio 97.3 FM, the Seahawks Radio Network flagship stations, beginning with the pregame show at 2 p.m. Pro Football Hall of Fame writer John Clayton will be on the broadcast providing updates from the Washington Football Team sideline, with Jen Mueller doing the same from the Seahawks sideline. Steve Raible, the longtime voice of the Seahawks, and former NFL linebacker Dave Wyman will call the game from the booth for the Seahawks Radio Network.

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