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Russell Wilson, not Marshawn Lynch, is the key ingredient missing from the offense

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Seattle Seahawks v New Orleans Saints Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images

It Has Happened Before

On October 14th 2007, following a 28-17 loss to the New Orleans Saints on Sunday Night Football, it became clear the Seattle Seahawks were in a transition offensively. Shaun Alexander, who’d been the team’s big playmaker and mismatch touchdown machine in the red zone, had suddenly disappeared. While the offense was productive, red zone touchdowns were down.

Everyone talked after that Saints game how then-head coach Mike Holmgren had become predictable, his offense outdated. Seattle’s offense was used to insane efficiency in the red zone, thanks in large part to the offensive line and the combination of Mack Strong and Alexander.

It’s easy to succeed when you have a big play back and a stellar line to run behind. After that loss however, a fundamental shift occurred on offense. They pulled away from Alexander and the I-formation in favor of 4-wide 1-back sets. This featured a varied backfield with Maurice Morris and Alexander sharing touches as well as spot rushes by Leonard Weaver.

It was an odd shift from an offense featuring power runs with Alexander ad-libbing often humiliating defenders in space, to a “force the best match up” kind of deal but even more shocking was the speed of the shift in approach.

It Must Happen Again

Nine years later following a confrontation with these same Saints, the Seahawks have once again found themselves without an identity. One that they have known for about four and a half seasons. Marshawn Lynch was replaced with Thomas Rawls and Seattle found that it had the ability to run and make big plays without him.

Why? Because defenses still feared Russell Wilson’s running ability. The one thing missing from this last game with New Orleans? A spy on Wilson. Defenses aren’t afraid of him running, at least for right now. This means that the thing that often unsettled defenses and opened things up. especially in the red zone, no longer exists. So who do they turn to?

Rawls is hurt and Christine Michael can’t really push the pile. They don’t have another guy they can just put the offense onto. There’s no Hasselbeck, because in this scenario, Wilson is Alexander. His running and stretching the field sideline to sideline with zone read is no longer part of this system especially inside the 20-yard line.

Does Darrell Bevell have the capacity, capability, or players to make significant alterations to this offense? It’ll be tough, but one guy you might want to chat with about that situation: Jimmy Graham.