Without Russell Wilson, can the Seahawks win by running more?

Under Pete Carroll, the Seahawks have combined volume and efficiency to create one of the most consistently bankable units in the NFL.

SEATTLES — Editor’s Note: The above Video of an exclusive KING 5 interview featuring Seahawks running back Rashaad Penny, aired July 21. This story is part of the KING 5 Seahawks Season Preview Series.

Imagine a modern day National Football League (NFL) offense.

What do you see?

Oftentimes, a young quarterback with the ability to play with his legs is the linchpin of that offense. Then pair him with a couple of dependable wide receivers, a tight end who can stretch midfield, and an offensive coordinator who works to push defense to their physical limits. Also important is an offensive line that can keep the quarterback upright.

For many NFL teams, an offense begins and ends with the passing. Then maybe you can consider running the ball to either keep the defense on their toes or burn the clock while holding a double-digit lead.

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That’s why you see the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Kansas City Chiefs, Buffalo Bills, and Los Angeles Rams all in the top 10 for passing attempts last year. Not only is passing the ball more efficient than running, but it also gives elite quarterbacks more control over the course of the game.

Then you have the Seattle Seahawks, a deeply odd team in an era that increasingly relies on their quarterbacks to generate offense. For much of the Pete Carroll era, Seattle preferred to lean on its running game rather than the other way around.

Take a look at the Seahawks’ past nine years of rushing attempts ranked by the number of rushing attempts in the league.

Seahawks are storming the ranks in the NFL

  • 2021: 27th (25.8 rushes per game)
  • 2020: 17th (25.7 rushes per game)
  • 2019: 3rd (30.1 rushes per game)
  • 2018: 2nd (33.4 rushes per game)
  • 2017: 21st (25.6 rushes per game)
  • 2016: 20th (25.2 rushes per game)
  • 2015: 3rd (31.3 rushes per game)
  • 2014: 2nd place (32.8 rushes per game)
  • 2013: 2nd (31.8 rushes per game)

Seattle ranked in the top five for total rushing attempts in five of those nine seasons.

The team finished 21st and 27th, respectively, in rushing attempts in the only two seasons (2017 and 2021) that Seattle missed the Russell Wilson-era playoffs.

Under Carroll, Seattle has combined volume and efficiency to create one of the most consistently bankable units in the NFL. After all, the Seahawks ranked in the top 12 in rushing yards per attempt in seven of nine seasons.

As the team’s frenzied efficiency waned — as in 2017 — the Seahawks were having one of their worst seasons with Wilson at the helm.

Now let’s look at the pass attempts per season.

Seahawks overtake the ranks in the NFL

  • 2021: 31st (29.1 passes per game)
  • 2020: 17th (35.2 passes per game)
  • 2019: 23rd (32.3 passes per game)
  • 2018: 32nd (26.7 passes per game)
  • 2017: 16th (34.7 passes per game)
  • 2016: 18th (35.4 passes per game)
  • 2015: 28th (30.6 passes per game)
  • 2014: 32nd (28.4 passes per game)
  • 2013: 31st (26.3 passes per game)

Yes, Seattle really doesn’t like to overtake and ranks at best 16th in total attempts for the 2017 season.

In 2013 the Seahawks passed nine times less per game than the average NFL team.

What happened again in 2013?

Oh yes, Seattle won its first ever Super Bowl.

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The following season, Seattle threw seven times less per game than the average NFL team and were just one wonderful play away from winning two Super Bowls in a row.

Seattle essentially tried to bring football back to the 1970s, when crushing running backs ruled the league and quarterbacks were just a sideshow. And it worked – somehow.

Carroll has managed four teams over the past nine years actually rushed more often when they passed for a full season. They made the playoffs in each of those seasons. They made it to the Super Bowl twice.

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Of course, Seattle missed the playoffs in 2017 when they finished 16th in passing attempts (an enormous number for a Carroll team).

For more answers, here are the Seahawks that pass efficiency rankings.

Seahawks Passing Efficiency in the NFL

  • 2021: 8th (7.7 yards per attempt)
  • 2020: 13th (7.5 yards per attempt)
  • 2019: 8th (7.9 yards per attempt)
  • 2018: 6th (8.1 yards per attempt)
  • 2017: 12th (7.2 yards per attempt)
  • 2016: 6th (7.8 yards per attempt)
  • 2015: 2nd (8.3 yards per attempt)
  • 2014: 6th (7.7 yards per attempt)
  • 2013: 2nd (8.4 yards per attempt)

OK, so it’s clear something’s happening here. Conventional football wisdom says that teams with a good quarterback should pass more often than teams that don’t have a good quarterback. (Groundbreaking, I know.)

Wilson was definitely one of the “good” quarterbacks in the league during his 10-year tenure, leading one of the most efficient passing offenses each year.

But Carroll, dogmatic in his approach, never quite let go of Wilson.

Run-heavy offenses are typically less efficient than their pass-heavy counterparts, if you believe the football statheads, because of this simple mathematical fact: An average pass (7.1 yards per attempt in 2021) gains more yards than the average run (4.3 yards). per try).

But the Seahawks have paired a hyper-efficient, run-heavy offense With a passing attack that also happened to be hyper-efficient.

The result has consistently been one of the best offenses in the league, bucking a widespread trend of building on passing.

So can the Seahawks run more and win – again?

Which brings us to the 5-foot-11 elephant who isn’t in the Seahawks quarterback room.

Wilson is no longer a Seahawk.

He was perhaps the perfect quarterback for a run-oriented head coach, a long-range assassin and one of the best deep throws in the league. When the Seahawks have thrown, Wilson has rarely made game-changing mistakes to give opponents the football.

Geno Smith and Drew Lock don’t offer the same assurances. Not only do they turn the ball around more often, but the pair have proven to be league-league quarterbacks on an efficiency basis.

That’s not the ideal combination with an offensive game plan that depends on keeping the game reasonably tight. After all, running is much less effective when faced with a large deficit.

But the Seahawks have followed NFL trends before, often with incredible success.

https://www.king5.com/article/sports/nfl/seahawks/can-seahawks-win-by-leaning-on-running-game/281-88d5ced0-a05e-4518-a117-992a1524e7de Without Russell Wilson, can the Seahawks win by running more?

Alley Einstein

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