Troubling trends continue for Seahawks’ offense in win over 49ers

Dec 14, 2014, 8:16 PM | Updated: 8:50 pm
Russell Wilson was sacked five times and picked off once during a unimpressive day for Seattle&#821...
Russell Wilson was sacked five times and picked off once during a unimpressive day for Seattle's offense. (AP)
(AP)

I’m going to be that guy.

That’s a disclaimer before we start sifting through the finer points of Seattle’s 17-7 victory over San Francisco.

I’m going to be that guy who finds flaws in a double-digit victory over a division rival. Yep. That guy. The one who sees Seattle complete its first two-game sweep of the 49ers since 2005 and searches for nits to pick, or in this case, an offense that got picked to end the first half.

And as remarkable as the Seahawks’ defense was – again – for the second consecutive week their offense was sufficiently inept through 30 minutes to constitute a concern going forward.

See? Told you I was going to be that guy.

Can’t help it. That eyesore of a first half looms too large in the rear-view mirror. The one in which Marshawn Lynch got just six carries, Seattle’s only scoring drive came thanks in part to a pair of 15-yard penalties on a 49ers safety and the Seahawks’ final possession ended with an interception that marked the third time in six quarters that Russell Wilson made a mistake that cost his team a field-goal attempt.

Not to get too dramatic, but those are just a few of the things lingering in the background of this four-game winning streak.

The Seahawks may not be winning in spite of their offense, but they certainly aren’t winning because of it. And even as Seattle has won four consecutive games, all by double digits, the reality is that every one of those victories could have – no, should have – been even more lopsided. That’s not just a tribute to how well Seattle’s defense is playing but a commentary on the difficulty the Seahawks’ offense has had cashing in all of its opportunities.

There is no defense in the league playing better than Seattle’s right now. Heck, there might not be a defense in the past 10 years that has played better than the Seahawks have right now, but Seattle’s offense just might be the worst among all of the NFC playoff contenders.*

(*It should go without saying that the NFC South is excluded from this observation as those teams are “playoff contenders” in name only because someone has to win that abomination of a division.)

And as much as Seattle deserves credit for going out and running for 105 yards in the second half with backups at both center and left tackle, the fact that Wilson passed for just 28 yards over the final two quarters absolutely has to be a concern. So is the fact that two of Seattle’s four scoring drives in the game were aided significantly by penalties against San Francisco that were costly and, in the eyes of the 49ers, questionable.

This isn’t going to become a discussion about the explosiveness of Seattle’s wide receivers or the lack of a home-run threat after Percy Harvin was shipped out.

This is about having an efficient, functioning offense whose most dangerous play can be summarized as, “Russell Wilson running around in the backfield until the defensive backs tire of covering his receivers.” Because as exciting as that play is to watch – and as frequently as it has worked this season – it’s dangerous to rely on that to be the difference in a game.

Seattle’s offense is never going to score like the Packers have at times this season nor operate as quickly as the Eagles. In an increasingly pass-oriented league, the Seahawks are a throwback, and the fact that they’re not prolific makes it even more important that they’re more proficient. Over the past four games, there’s a distinct danger Seattle is becoming less so.

Then again, the Seahawks suffered two losses in three games last December and had everyone wondering whether their offense was too conservative, and all Seattle did was go and outscore Denver’s record-setting offense by 35 points in the Super Bowl.

But after watching Seattle stumble through another first half, there’s also the danger that the Seahawks’ offense will make this team vulnerable in spite of their defense.

And really, I don’t want to be that guy. You know, the one who was right to wring hands even after a fourth consecutive victory.

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Troubling trends continue for Seahawks’ offense in win over 49ers