By Chris Cluff
Seahawks coach Pete Carroll says he is holding the offense back on purpose, playing a conservative game geared toward not turning the ball over. No surprise there.
It’s understandable, considering the Hawks have the league’s stingiest scoring defense, the sixth-ranked rushing attack and solid special teams. Carroll obviously is comfortable playing close games and hoping rookie Russell Wilson can pull them out if they don’t get some big plays on defense or special teams.
This is exactly what we expected, especially early in the season. And, as predicted, the passing game is not up to it yet. The Seahawks are last in the league at 127.7 passing yards per game, and only four teams have scored fewer points. That has to improve if they are going to become a playoff team.
As assistant head coach Tom Cable told 710 AM radio in May, “You run to win, but you throw to score. You can’t be a championship team in this league unless you can throw the football and throw it well.”
Carroll and his coaches keep talking about Wilson’s ability to come up with big plays in the clutch, but he’ll have to do better than that official-aided touchdown pass against Green Bay.
The Hawks got lucky Monday, because they really had as much trouble at the end of that game as they did against Arizona. If that last pass were ruled an interception, as most people think it should have been, Wilson would have missed his final four passes again — just as he did in Arizona.
This is the predictable result of having a rookie QB throw to receivers he has not had much time with because of a three-headed QB battle and injuries to nearly every receiver so far.
The Seahawks know they have no passing game right now. They know they have to rely on their stellar defense, stout special teams and power running game. That typically will mean they are in most games — and that most games will be low-scoring. The coaches are fine with that — for now.
As offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell told The News Tribune: “We do have a rookie quarterback. We have a great defense. We have great special teams. We can run the football. We can protect the football. And all of those have been a great recipe to win the game. And that’s really what the bottom line comes down to: winning the game. You can say they’re ugly wins or beautiful wins — however they are, they’re wins. And that’s what our goal is.”
MORE LINE DANCING
It appears the Hawks are poised to insert James Carpenter at left guard, which would make their fourth starting line combination in four games and their 20th in Carroll’s 36 games as coach.
Apparently the coaches would move Paul McQuistan to right guard, which would make him their third starter there this season as he bumped John Moffitt and J.R. Sweezy.
Moving Carpenter from right tackle to left guard is a tacit admission that the team messed up — as many thought — when it drafted Carpenter to play right tackle in 2011. But if Carpenter can become a dominant left guard, he still will have been worth the first-round pick.
The Hawks obviously are intrigued at the thought of pairing Carpenter with left tackle Russell Okung. Of course, they both need to stay on the field for that to happen.
Okung was a little shaky against Green Bay after missing the Dallas game with a bruised knee. He was called for a false start on the first series and had two holding penalties — one was declined because McQuistan also was holding on the play.
Okung had three false starts in the season opener, so he needs to settle down, especially with the Hawks going on the road for four of the next five games.
Meanwhile, right tackle Breno Giacomini is nursing a strained pectoral muscle. If he cannot play against the St. Louis Rams on Sunday, it probably will be either Frank Omiyale or McQuistan replacing him.
However it works out, it looks like the Hawks will be doing a little more line dancing.
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Chris Cluff worked as a sports editor and writer for The Seattle Times for 11 years and has written two books on the Seattle Seahawks. Since leaving the Times, he has written about the Seahawks and Seattle sports for Bleacher Report and the blog he shares with a fellow sportswriter, outsidethepressbox.com. His work can be found on Examiner.com.