Blame game provides few solutions for passing woes

SEAHAWKS: Coordinator Darrell Bevell says offense will be able to throw more if it converts on 3rd downs

eric.williams@thenewstribune.comOctober 4, 2012 

RENTON – Russell Wilson isn’t the only player open for criticism because the Seattle Seahawks are last in the NFL in passing yards.

Seattle’s pass blockers and receiving corps, as well as offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell’s play selection, also are taking some heat for the team’s failures in the passing game.

For now, everyone involved is shouldering the blame and vowing to get things turned around starting Sunday at Carolina.

The Seahawks have thrown the fewest passes of any team in the league, averaging 25 throws a game. Wilson is passing for an average of 130.8 yards a game, which ranks last among qualifying starters.

And on third-down plays, when experienced quarterbacks usually thrive, Wilson is a league-worst 11 of 27 (40.7 percent) for 77 yards, one touchdown and one interception – giving him a 45.4 passer rating on third downs.

“The biggest area we’re struggling is third down,” Bevell said. “That’s not a secret. The good thing is we only had nine of them (Sunday at St. Louis). The bad thing was, we only converted two of them. And there were seven of them, I think, that were … 4 yards (or less). So we’ve got to do a better job there.”

Bevell said the Seahawks have been effective on early downs. Against St. Louis, they gained 333 yards on first- and second-down plays but netted minus-14 yards on third-down plays.

Tight end Zach Miller said the team’s struggles on third-down plays are limiting its ability to push the ball down the field and create big plays because the offense is not on the field enough.

The Seahawks have just six passing plays of 20 yards or more, worst in the league.

“The easiest thing is to protect the quarterback so we can have those longer-developing routes to get down field,” Miller said. “Once you do a good job there, then it’s about the receivers running good routes and getting open, and the quarterback finding the open guy and getting it to him.

“We had some chances in the game where there was some guys open. Sometimes it was either pressure – a guy coming up and Russell would have to scramble and wouldn’t get a chance to get it out, or he just didn’t have enough time. Other times he didn’t happen to be looking at that read at that particular time.

“So if we can hit those, those are the easy ones that can really open up an offense.”

Sidney Rice is the team’s leading receiver, with 12 catches for 132 yards and a touchdown. The Seahawks’ No. 1 receiver has been targeted on 22 passes, tied for 62nd in the league.

Coach Pete Carroll said he would like Golden Tate to get some more looks. Tate is fourth on the team with seven catches for 113 yards and three touchdowns. Tate has been targeted on 14 passes.

Rice said he wouldn’t mind getting more touches, but it’s not a priority.

“Of course, every receiver would,” Rice said. “But at the same time, my main focus is winning ballgames. I’m going to do whatever it takes for this team to be more successful. I’m going to come to practice, come to work every day and give 110 percent out here on the practice field and have that carry over to the game.

“I feel like whenever my number is called, I’ll be ready.”

Added Bevell: “We’re trying to get all of the receivers the ball. We’ve thrown it the least of any team in the league – 100 times. We have 60 completions. Our highest guy only has 12 catches, so whoever it is, you’re trying to get them the ball. … the way to do it is staying on the field. And again, it will come down to those third-down conversions.”

INJURY UPDATE

Veteran cornerback Marcus Trufant did not practice Wednesday because of what Carroll said was a back injury that flared up against St. Louis.

Carroll indicated that it’s the same back problem Trufant has been dealing with since 2009.

Danny Gorrer and Byron Maxwell are splitting time at nickel back with Trufant out. Carroll did not say what Trufant’s availability status will be this weekend.

Offensive guard John Moffitt also did not practice, because of a knee injury that kept him out against St. Louis, and he has been ruled out for a second straight game.

Rookie defensive lineman Jaye Howard remains out with a foot injury. And Running back Marshawn Lynch was limited in practice so Carroll could give him rest.

For Carolina, defensive end Frank Alexander (back), linebacker Jon Beason (knee), cornerback Chris Gamble (shoulder), offensive lineman Geoff Hangartner (knee) and safety Colin Jones (shoulder) did not practice.

Offensive lineman Mike Pollak (shoulder) was limited. Defensive end Antwan Applewhite (knee) was a full participant in practice.

EXTRA POINTS

The Seahawks released running back Lonyae Miller from the practice squad and brought back tight end Sean McGrath. … Third-string quarterback Josh Portis is impersonating Cam Newton in practice this week. The 6-foot-3, 211-pound Portis ran the read option at California University of Pennsylvania.

Eric D. Williams: 253-597-8437 eric.williams@thenewstribune.com @eric_d_williams blog.thenewstribune.com/seahawks

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