Seattle Seahawks lack consistency in key area

The biggest issue for the Seattle Seahawks appears to be with its ground game.
By The Sports Xchange  |  Jan. 3, 2017 at 8:38 AM
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The Seattle Seahawks limped across the finish line into the postseason with a less-than-inspiring 25-23 victory over the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday.

Seattle fell behind the 49ers, 14-3, before getting their act together and scoring 19 straight points to take the lead. The Seahawks struggled to run the ball against the worst rush defense in the league and gave up two early touchdown drives that featured four plays of at least 20 yards in the first half.

The Seahawks are just 3-3 over their last six games and have to play opening weekend after failing to wrap up a chance at the No. 2 seed and a first-round bye.

"At times we felt like we weren't ourselves a little bit more than we have been in the past, especially in the first half," receiver Doug Baldwin said. "It still comes down to consistency. We have the talent, we have the players, and the ability to do it. We just have to do it, play in and play out."

The biggest issue for Seattle appears to be with its ground game. The Seahawks rushed for just 87 yards against the 49ers on Sunday. That follows outputs of just 72 yards versus the Los Angeles Rams and 78 yards against the Arizona Cardinals. Starting running back Thomas Rawls has managed just 22 yards on his last 16 carries over the final two games.

"Well we just keep going. We're going to keep running. We have to keep running to make sure that we have the mix that we want. That's out style of play," head coach Pete Carroll said. "It doesn't always matter how you run the ball early in the game. It's more importantly how you finish running the ball so that you can finish the game just like we needed to do.

"We're not pleased with it. It's not anywhere near where we want it to be but we're still working at it and we're still committed to keeping the formula that allows Russell (Wilson) to be effective, which is so important. He needs his space. He needs his play-action for the big plays. He needs to get the (bootlegs) out on the perimeter, all that stuff he does to keep the passing game alive and explosive so that's why we're there."

Wilson isn't factoring into the running game much despite being mostly beyond knee, ankle and pectoral injuries sustained early in the year. The one positive recently has been rookie Alex Collins.

"Alex really lit it up against yesterday," Carroll said. "That's great to see him coming to life like that. We need him desperately and we need the 1-2 punch. He was the beneficiary of a couple really good schemes up front that hit and he took full advantage of it. He seems to bring some juice. You can feel the fire. He's really fired up to be a part of it so a big positive for him."

Collins ran for 55 yards on seven carries against the 49ers. Carroll said Collins has lost over 10 pounds throughout the season and is in better shape and has a better chance to contribute now.

Nevertheless, it's the first time in Seattle's five-year playoff run that the team is not playing its best football entering the playoffs. However, the Seahawks did post a 2-2 mark over the final month of the 2013 season before going to the Super Bowl as well, but that team finished the year 13-3. This year's team is 10-5-1 and hasn't played a convincing game in six weeks.

"We're going to be fine. We're going to give it everything we've got. I ain't worried about that. All the worries that you guys have, I ain't got 'em," Carroll said. "We're going to go play football the way we know how to play, and go forward one game at a time just like we always do. It's a championship opportunity and we'll crank it up and go."

-- Seahawks defensive tackle Jarran Reed was ejected from Sunday's game in the fourth quarter after getting into an altercation with 49ers players following an extra point try.

Reed and Ahtyba Rubin crashed through long snapper Kyle Nelson in an attempt to block the kick. Nelson then got in the faces of Reed and Rubin after the play.

"Somewhere in there he threw a punch in the midst of all that. So, he deserved to get ejected," Carroll said.

Reed and defensive end Frank Clark exchanged words coming off the field and Clark grabbed Reed as the conversation became heated before the pair had to be separated by Germain Ifedi, Carroll and others.

"Frank was just trying to teach him and he didn't want to hear it and they got messed up and everybody took care of business and it was fine," Carroll said.

-- The Seahawks may be in need of a new long snapper this week after Nolan Frese sustained a high-ankle sprain in the first quarter of Sunday's win.

On Seattle's first punt of the game, Frese had his left ankle stepped on by DeForest Buckner.

"I felt like I could snap but the other part of my job was hard to do. It just kind of got to me toward the end," Frese said.

Frese later sailed a punt snap over Jon Ryan's head for a safety that closed Seattle's lead to 22-16 in the third quarter. But despite the injury, Frese managed to finish the game.

"Nolan had a terribly sprained ankle," Carroll said. "We were getting ready with our second and third snapper. 'What are we going to do?' We were talking and the whole thing. He couldn't run at all. So he was just clomping around on a totally casted foot to get through the game. So the fact that he had a snap that got away from him, a lot of guys would not have finished the game and I give him credit for really just battling through it and giving us the best he could. He airballed one."

It's not the only issue Seattle's special teams have had. Frese has had poor snaps while healthy too. Kicker Steven Hauschka has missed 10 kicks this year - six extra points and four field goals - and six of the misses were due to blocked kicks.

"There's just some funky kicks we've made," Carroll said. "(Hauschka) hit four great field goals yesterday and did a great job but there was an extra point that was low."

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