Sehawks have had trouble the past few games running the ball

Staff writerDecember 25, 2013 

RENTON — Run first, run often.

Pete Carroll decided that’s how the Seahawks would operate on offense shortly after being hired as coach in 2010.

He’s not going to change after the Seahawks took a dip in rushing the past five weeks. Seattle has rushed for fewer than 100 yards twice and below its season average in those five games, dropping it to fourth in the league in rushing.

“The commitment to it is really important, and then

we just stay with it and keep pounding and get Marshawn (Lynch) his carries,” Carroll said. “We got to make sure he gets his reps. To do that, sometimes it counts on other aspects of your game, and then converting on third downs so that you get enough plays.”

The rushing numbers for the Seahawks and Lynch are down across the board as compared with last season.

Seattle is averaging 138.5 rush yards a game and 4.4 yards per attempt this season. Last season, those numbers were 161.2 and 4.8.

Lynch is averaging 4.2 yards per carry, down from 5.0 last season. He has, however, rushed for more than 1,000 yards for the third consecutive season in Seattle.

Carroll will contend there is a cyclical effect with the rushing attack from two perspectives. First, there is the positive payoff in other aspects of the game – whether it’s exploiting a defense focused on the run or a physical toll during the course of a game.

Second, converting third downs has a hand in running success. The past two weeks, the Seahawks are 5-for-26 (19.2 percent) on third-down conversions. For the season, Seattle is in the middle of the league, ranked 16th at 37.7 percent.

Failing to convert on third down means fewer first downs, which equals fewer run opportunities.

“If we’re making first downs with the throwing game off of it and we’re converting on third down, it’s a matter of just setting the style that we want to play at; keeping a balanced attack,” Carroll said. “We don’t want to get where we’re just throwing the football. So we have fallen into that very many times and we don’t want to.

“By design, we’re going to keep hammering away until the run play goes, and sometimes you don’t make a lot of yards, but you’re still being effective.”

The Seahawks’ poorest running game of the season came the last time they played the St. Louis Rams, their final regular-season opponent. Lynch had eight carries for 23 yards. Seattle had one rushing first down and was 2-for-11 on third down, showing how important that loop is to getting the running game going.

“I know I said it various times we can’t come out of a game like that again,” offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell said. “Last week was 18 (rushes for Lynch) maybe, we’d like to get that number way up. Again the third-down issues we’re having kind of takes those opportunities away.”

CARROLL SYMPATHETIC WITH BROWNER

Brandon Browner’s indefinite suspension from the league was upheld last week after the NFL heard and decided on his appeal. Browner is an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season and unlikely to be back with the Seahawks.

Browner used Twitter on Monday to say he thinks about going on a rant via social media, but that wouldn’t be right. He also lamented why the NFL didn’t send him certified letters telling him he was required to participate in more drug testing when he was out of the league and in the CFL.

That was the crux of Browner’s appeal. He said he shouldn’t have reached Stage 3 of the league’s substance-abuse policy, and, subsequently, shouldn’t have received a suspension of at least one calendar year when he again violated the policy this season. The NFL did not agree.

“We’re disappointed for the guy and for what we had in motion,” Carroll said. “A guy is missing out on being part of something that he loves, for whatever reason. We’re really careful with these guys, and our players are really close. When Richard Sherman looks across and BB’s not there, it means something to them. Those guys have kind of grown up together as Seahawks.”

HARVIN MOVE MAY BE NEAR

Another day, another cryptic Percy Harvin update.

Carroll was asked Tuesday if the Seahawks would soon have to make a move with Harvin and determine whether he can play this year.

“That may happen,” Carroll said.

A logical thought is the Seahawks could put the wide receiver on injured reserve in order to bring back cornerback Walter Thurmond, who is returning from a four-game suspension for violating the league’s substance-abuse policy.

SEAHAWKS’ NEXT OPPONENT

ST. LOUIS RAMS (7-8)

1:25 p.m. Sunday, CenturyLink Field, Seattle

Against the Seahawks: Seattle leads the all-time series 19-12, including 19-11 in the regular season. The Seahawks won the previous meeting this season, 14-9, on Oct. 28 in St. Louis.

Stats and stuff: Rams defensive end Robert Quinn leads the NFL with 18 sacks. The opposition has lost 142 yards because of those sacks. ... His opposite end, Chris Long, has 7.5 sacks. ... Quarterback Kellen Clemens has thrown seven touchdowns and five interceptions since taking over for Sam Bradford in Week 8. ... The Rams are ranked 27th in passing yards. The Seahawks’ defense is ranked No. 1 in opposing passing yards. ... Rams rookie running back Zac Stacy is 42 yards short of 1,000 for the season. He had his best day of the year against the Seahawks when he ran for 134 yards. ... No Rams wide receiver has more than 50 catches. ... Tight end Jared Cook leads the team with 46 catches for 641 yards. ... Two of the Rams’ starting linebackers, Alec Ogletree (109) and James Laurinaitis (106), have more than 100 tackles on the season. ... Ogletree has forced six fumbles. ... Left tackle Jake Long tore his ACL and MCL on Sunday, needs surgery and is out this week. ... The Rams are 19th in the league in punt returns. The Seahawks allow the fewest punt return yards in the NFL, an average of 1.6 per return. ... The Seahawks are an NFL-best plus-18 in takeaways. St. Louis is fourth at plus-10.

Quotable: “Obviously he is shocked right now, but he’s indicated to us that he’ll be back and good to go.” — St. Louis coach Jeff Fisher on Jake Long’s injury.

RAMS’ SCHEDULE

Sept. 8ArizonaW, 27-24

Sept. 15at AtlantaL, 24-31

Sept. 22at Dallas L, 7-31

Sept. 26San FranciscoL, 11-35

Oct. 6JacksonvilleW, 34-20

Oct. 13at HoustonW, 38-13

Oct. 20at Carolina L, 15-30

Oct. 28SeattleL, 9-14

Nov. 3TennesseeL, 21-28

Nov. 10at IndianapolisW, 38-8

Nov. 24ChicagoW, 42-21

Dec. 1at San FranciscoL, 13-23

Dec. 8at ArizonaL, 10-30

Dec. 15New OrleansW, 27-16

Dec. 22Tampa BayW, 23-13

Sundayat Seattle

todd.dybas@thenewstribune.com

todd.dybas@thenewstribune.com blog.thenewstribune.com/seahawks @Todd_Dybas

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