Why we now know the potential Achilles heel for the Seahawks offense

Joe Fann

The Seahawks offense is far too talented to ever be kept out of the end zone for an entire game. Russell Wilson is a top five quarterback in the NFL, Tyler Lockett has shown he can be a stud wide receiver and Chris Carson is a 1,000-yard running back for the second-consecutive season.

So how on earth were the Rams able to limit Seattle to just two field goals-worth of offense in Week 14?

Poor execution played a part in that. On the Seahawks third drive, trailing 14-3, Malik Turner dropped a fourth-down pass that would have moved Seattle into the red zone. On their very next drive, still down 14-3, Jacob Hollister dropped a third-down pass that would have kept the possession moving toward midfield.  

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But as Tyler Lockett mentioned postgame, Seattle's offense has been taking what defenses have given it over the last few weeks. Opponents have been defending against the deep ball and forcing the Seahawks to run it more. That's OK in cases like the Vikings game where your defense is dominating, and you're averaging north of five yards per carry.

It's less ideal when you're trailing 21-3 and need the passing game to ignite your offense and lead a comeback. That's why the Seahawks have to find a balance of taking what the defense is giving them while also having the ability to dictate tempo as well. Championship caliber teams should be able to do that, even clubs like Seattle who have an obvious run-first mentality.

"It is hard," Brian Schottenheimer said of attaining such balance. "I would say people have tried to guard against the big play. In a game like Minnesota, they did the same thing. They tried to stay on top of us and not let us get behind them. Russ did a nice job of checking it down. You mentioned it, when the score gets a certain way, it's a little harder.

"We never envisioned that game last week getting to what it did. Certainly, we had some missed opportunities that we should've done better as players and coaches. It's a fine line. We're aware of teams trying to keep us in front of them. It doesn't mean we're not going to keep trying to take shots and get over your heads."

Schottenheimer and others have essentially chalked the ugly game up to a worst-case scenario that played into the Rams biggest strength. Seattle got into an early hole and had to abandon its running game which allowed Los Angeles' talented defensive line to dominate.

The Rams sacked Wilson five times and hit him on 11 occasions.

"(Pass protection is) so inclusive of everybody," Schottenheimer said. "Everybody is involved whether it's the quarterback with his drop. There are certainly times that Russ could've gotten the ball out of his hands. Receivers not getting open sometimes. That affects sacks sometimes. It's hard to put, okay, you've been sacked ‘x' amount of times last game. You don't want to play the Rams the way we had to play them. They were really good up front. They were able to T-off on us."

Seattle has now allowed 13 sacks over its last three games. So while you can tip your cap to the Rams, it's also important to recognize that there's a troublesome trend brewing within the Seahawks offense. Seattle's 47 sacks allowed are 10th-most in the NFL.

Schottenheimer indicated that the Seahawks are utilizing several tactics in order to find a remedy, including hard counts and changing tempos.

"We use all those things," Schottenheimer said. "We chip people. we use cadence variations. Use different formations and stuff. When you get in certain games against teams like the Rams where they're getting after you, it can be difficult. Again, we're always at our best when we're able to play that balanced football and you're sitting right there, and we can use our runs and our play passes. When the score gets the way it did against the Rams, it's hard."

If there's one major takeaway from the loss to the Rams it's that Los Angeles provided the blueprint for how to stop Seattle's offense. Now, not every team has the pass rushing firepower to replicate that success, but good teams do, most notably the 49ers.

When Seattle and San Francisco meet again in Week 17, a game that will likely be for the division title, it will be imperative that the Seahawks avoid a similar script that played out at the L.A. Memorial Coliseum in Week 14.

Why we now know the potential Achilles heel for the Seahawks offense originally appeared on NBC Sports Northwest

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