The Seahawks ran the ball nine times in the second half versus Atlanta . They took 32 snaps in that half. They were down by as much as 20 points early in the 3rd quarter. This isn't to examine why particular runs are failing, but more an examination of the situations the Seahawks find themselves in when they do choose to run.
DRIVE 7 (3rd Quarter) - three runs
The Seahawks have just held the Falcons to a field goal despite a deep strike to Julio Jones for 45 yards. They find themselves down 27-7 when the receive the ball with 13:40 to go in the 3rd Quarter. They start the drive at their 39-yard line.
Interestingly, the Seahawks found themselves in seven 1st and 10 situations in the 1st half. On the first three 1st and 10s, they decided to pass. On the last four 1st and 10s they decided to run. The last 1st and 10 of the 1st half was a handoff to Forsett to end the half with 0:25 on the clock. Essentially taking a knee. In "real" football plays they basically passed three times and then ran three times.
Norm Chow was quoted before the Utah - Washington game that he tries to keep a 50-50 run pass balance on 1st down. Norm was Pete Carroll's offensive coordinator before Steve Sarkisian at USC. This may be a coincidence but I just wanted to throw that in there. I do not think that formula can be followed in the 2nd half once you are down several scores, but more of a template for a game in which you are either close or leading.
1s and 10: Seahawks run Marshawn Lynch right for 3 yards. This is not technically a 'successful' play, but for the Seahawks early in 2011, I would call 3 yards successful. In the first half, designed runs had gone for: 1, 2 (penalty), -3, 2, and 0 yards).
What is really cool is that two plays later the Seahawks are facing a 3rd and 2 and they run Forsett up the middle successfully for 3 yards. This is actually a big play because now the Seahawks have hit midfield and obtaining the initial 1st down for this team is especially critical in my opinion. Good to see them get the first down on the ground.
Five plays later the Seahawks find themselves with 1st and Goal at the 7 yard line. This is after a 20 yard strike to Baldwin and a 19-yard completion to BMW to bring the Seahawks into the red zone. Leon Washington goes to the left side for 1 yard.
DRIVE 9 (3rd Quarter)- one run
The Seahawks defense had been playing well for two series, forcing two punts, with one a three-and-out. In between the defensive stand was a 4 play, 62 yard drive that ended with a Tarvaris Jackson to Zach Miller interception in the end zone.
The great thing is that the Seahawks showed resiliency on defense and special teams to bring the offense right back about 1:24 later as Leon Washington returns the punt to the Atlanta 11-yard line.
This play is diagrammed by Brock Huard on their chalk talk, as Danny pointed out here. Basically, it is disguised as a pass, but Zach Miller pulls left to right across the formation to block and BMW lays a block on the safety and pays the price with a concussion. It was for a good cause, as the 11 yard Lynch touchdown run is the most successful run of the day.
DRIVE 10 (4th Quarter) - four runs
When this drive starts, the Seahawks have some momentum. They just gave up a field goal to trail 30-21, but with 11:38 to play in the 4th quarter there is some confidence afloat in the CLink.
They begin the drive 1st and 10 at their own 40 and run Lynch up the middle for 6 yards. The Seahawks convert 2nd and 6 for a first down with a pass to Ben Obomanu. On the next 1st and 10 Tarvaris scrambles for 13 yards. Not a designed run, but goes in the run stats.
After Tarvaris gains the first down, Seattle is sitting on the Atlanta 29-yard line and they decide to run Leon Washington. He goes for 1 yard.
Seahawks convert on 3rd and 9 with a strike to Baldwin for 16 yards and find themselves with another 1st and 10.
They run Lynch on the left side on 1st and 10 for 2 yards. Two plays later Tarvaris finds Ben Obomanu wide open on the left side of the end zone.
DRIVE 11 (4th Quarter) - one run
The Seahawks find themselves trying to go 85 yards downfield to kick a field goal and are forced to pass with the clock winding down and only one timeout. On the 2nd play of the drive - 2nd and 1 - they run Forsett up the middle for 8 yards. This is technically a successful play, but probably a play Atlanta is happy to give up in terms of draining clock.
-- The Seahawks have a desire to be a balanced offense with a strong running game. They currently have essentially the worst running game in the NFL. Once Chris Johnson gets in rhythm I have a hard time believing Tennessee will have a worse running game than Seattle. Seattle is ranked 31st and Tennessee 32nd at the end of Week 4.
-- The offensive line has talent and the running backs have talent. There is no dominant running back among Lynch, Washington and Forsett. In the 2nd half versus Atlanta the Seahawks were able to create a few decent running plays. This was a function of successfully moving the football via the pass, keeping the offense on the field with fresh sets of downs, and Bevell throwing in the run to create a little bit of balance despite trailing by two scores for most of the 2nd half.
-- I think we need to see a somewhat consistent passing game from Tarvaris and the offense before we know what we truly have with this run game. We also have to score in the 1st half (10 points at least) to keep the game close and keep the game plan intact.
-- I would advocate throwing the ball in the 1st half successfully to earn the right to run the ball in the 2nd half of a close game. I do not think Seattle is talented enough to line up in predictable running situations and take on defenses early in games. I wish we were that good- but in the modern NFL that is very hard to do.
-- Before the Seahawks cross the 50 yard line the 1st half (if the game is somewhat close), I believe the Seahawks should throw the ball on 1st and 10 about 75% of the time. I honestly believe that in the modern NFL the majority of teams have to pass to set up the run, and that is true for the Seahawks right now. I think Tarvaris and the offense needs to build on the success in the passing game demonstrated versus Atlanta and growth in the running game will follow.
What do you think?