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Watch out: The Seahawks can run again

Rawls-Wilson-Lockett-Pope-Prosise five-headed monster could re-ignite Seattle’s dormant ground attack

NFL: Philadelphia Eagles at Seattle Seahawks
Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports

This was the situation, minutes before the Seattle Seahawks were set to kickoff vs. the Carolina Panthers on Sunday night:

  • Thomas Rawls, he of the putrescent 2.7 yards per carry, has missed half the season.
  • Russell Wilson, who has sustained injuries to both his legs already, has only recently regained his usual mobility.
  • Christine Michael, still the team’s leading rusher by a margin of 297 yards, is unavailable for reasons of being a Green Bay Packer. He hasn’t worn Seahawk colors for three weeks.
  • C.J. Prosise, known murderer of Patriots and Eagles, may well return, a la 2013 Percy Harvin, for the playoffs, but at the moment he’s out for an indeterminate amount of time.
  • Tyler Lockett leads the team with 8.0 ypc but that’s because he pulled off a nifty jet sweep that one time against Buffalo.
  • Once the league’s most dominant rushing team, the Seahawks have been held under 100 yards seven times this season. In 2013, 2014 and 2015 combined, they were held under 100 yards just... six times. The farther back you look, the worse it gets. Seattle had somehow gone four seasons prior to this one with just one game under 75 yards rushing — the debacle/win at St. Louis in Week 8 of the Super Bowl season, a Thursday night road game. Then, the Hawks managed to fall short of 75 yards six times this year. Six times! After having that happen once in their past 74 games, including playoffs even.

At 5:29 p.m. yesterday, the run game is dead. Look even closer: among the active Seahawks at kickoff, only one has a rushing touchdown in 2016. That’s Russell Wilson’s touchdown. His lonely touchdown.

Repeated, for effect: 53 Hawks dressed Sunday night, 46 were active, and of those 46, the lone rushing touchdown belonged to Wilson.

Whose TD is that?

Six-point bird I guess.

The Panthers entered CenturyLink Field as the top defense by yards/carry and the second best by yards/game. FootballOutsiders ranked them 5th or 2nd against the rush, depending on which metric you prefer.

Excuses first. Carolina was missing All-Pro linebacker Luke Kuechly and starting free safety Kurt Coleman. Surely their absence meant that — stop. Just. Stop. Kuechly was unavailable for the Oakland game last week too, and the Panthers allowed a mere 56 rushing yards to the Raiders.

Screw those excuses. Carolina is exactly the team that the Hawks didn’t need to see. I mean, they weren’t going to —

— nor would they —

Those are the two of the three longest runs from scrimmage for Seattle ball carriers this season. (Edit: thanks to user Arbxl for reminding me the Prosise run was real, and not imaginary, and real.)

Sit and read and cackle. The Seahawks ended up winning 40-7. Worries washed away (except for the gigantic-sized worry of the destroyer of Rob Gronkowskis getting carted off himself). I’m assuming you are seat, but a reminder that you'll still want to be seated for these stats:

  • Seattle finished 29-240-3 on the ground, for an 8.3 average. Take out Lockett’s big run — which you can’t, but take it out anyway to cheat — and they are still 28-165-2 on the night. For a 5.9 average. With two scores.
  • The Seahawks tallied seven explosive running plays, four by Rawls, one by RW, one by Troymaine Pope, and that little scamper by Lockett. The number rises to 10 explosive plays on the ground if you expand the definition to 8 or more yards, as Pete Carroll is wont to do.
  • Russell Wilson now has 11 rushes for 109 yards in his last two games. He is without a doubt incensed that his 9.9 average fails to reach double digits. He should take that out on the Packers. Or the Rams. Or both.
  • Steve Hauschka footsied the ball 17 times on Sunday. One scheduled kickoff while Ricardo Lockette exhorted the crowd, plus four field goals, plus four extra points, and eight mercy kickoffs full of inconsequentiality. A kicker is going to risk pediatric bruising when drives reach the red zone six times. Drives will reach the red zone six times when the run game is working. 4-20 on TD drive one. 2-57 on TD drive two. 6-24 on the final long (6:00) field goal drive.
  • Seattle ran 68 plays on offense, to Carolina’s 54. TOP favored the hosts 34:01 to 25:59. Sure, some of that is due to lockdown defense. But Bobby Wagner and Kam Chancellor did not account for any of the Hawks’ 29 first downs. Richard Sherman and K.J. Wright converted zero third downs, but the offense found it in them to go 7-14 on such plays.

Now, the big question. Will an improved run game down the stretch be enough to offset the loss of Earl Thomas? Spitballing, a healthy Thomas figures to be worth anywhere from three to seven points to the Hawks. Plug in Steve Terrell and your defense is theoretically going to give up more explosive plays, more scoring. Theoretically. Maybe Terrell has stuck on the roster for so long, since 2013, because he’s kind of good, but nobody is on Earl’s level.



But. But but but. Maybe a healthy Thomas, of the Rawls variety, is worth some points to an offense that hasn’t been able to run.

Maybe now, with a healthy Rawls, a healed Wilson, a wild card in Pope (8-28 with an explosive of 18 yards), a surprise threat in Lockett, plus a Prosise in their back pocket, maybe now the Seahawks are ready to smash some mouths.

Maybe their five-headed monster is worth the three to seven points conceded by Earl’s untimely absence. Maybe it’s worth even more.

Maybe the Seattle Seahawks recaptured their long-lost identity, starting with last night.