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Identity Shift: Seahawks offense roars to life, RB committee to return?

NFL: Indianapolis Colts at Seattle Seahawks
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Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Names of the Seattle Seahawks who scored touchdowns Sunday:

  • Justin Coleman
  • J.D. McKissic
  • Bobby Wagner
  • Luke Willson
  • Russell Wilson

Nobody has a bingo. Turn in your cards.

On to the trends, and the worries. As always, a negative trend is graded TrendCon 1 (most worrisome) to TrendCon 5 (least worrisome) and a team narrative is graded on a five-point scale from “Positive Identity Match” to “Total Bunk.”

1. NEW: First-half vs. Second-half scoring

Last Week: N/A

This Week: Worth Monitoring

The Seattle Seahawks are not a first-half offense, so far. Look.

Offensive points scored, before halftime: 16

Offensive points scored, after halftime: 64

Yes, eighty percent of the Seahawks’ points attributable to the offense have been tallied in the second halves of games. Touchdowns are 8-1, with the eight being in the second half. Even the lone first-half touchdown was scored in the waning moments of the second quarter at Tennessee.

If the trends continue this season, the next step is to examine if there’s a strong discrepancy in number of possessions before and after halftime, or if the second-half explosions are traceable back through the rest of the Pete Carroll-Russell Wilson era.

2. The offense is incorporating up-tempo components and it’s working

Narrative status, last week: Incomplete

Narrative status, this week: Holding True

The Seahawks offense is occasionally eschewing its usual deliberate pace for no-huddle or quick-snap tactics. We’ve seen those deployed in the Tennessee game to great success, and then again vs. Indanapolis, though in a more localized way. Rather than spend entire drives in a hurry-up mode, the Seattle coaches switched on and off liberally between slower and faster paces.

In the two games Seattle has used up-tempo tactics, 73 points have been scored. In the two games they haven’t, it’s 21 points. The case, while not closed, is wedged open with a crowhawkbar. A test for the validity and viability of the hurry-up will be to see if it is used on the road in Los Angeles this weekend, in situations that do not call for it out of necessity, such as being multiple scores behind in the second half.

3. Pass protection issues

TrendCon level, last week: 2

TrendCon level, this week: still 2

Just like last week could’ve been called a 1, this week could’ve been called a 3, so these things even out.

Via PFF:

  • Wilson’s updated time to throw is 28th (2.98 seconds).
  • Justin Britt has the 4th best Pass Blocking Efficiency (98.4) in the league, having allowed just one QB hit and one sack.
  • However, overall the Seahawks are 30th in PBE, at 69.7. Both offensive tackles sit below league average, by this measure.
  • The Colts pressured Wilson just six times Sunday night, a season low/best for the Seattle OL. On 33 dropbacks. It was easily their best effort of the season, after allowing between 39 percent and 47 percent pressure in each prior game.

So, the line’s looked a lot worse in pass pro, but the body of work is less than average overall. Good thing their task Sunday against the Rams is a breez—

Right. That guy.

4. The RB job will be done by committee, right?

Narrative status, last week: Mostly Dubious

Narrative status, this week: Worth Monitoring

With Chris Carson headed to the IR just a couple games after seizing the mantle of lead RB, and with C.J. Prosise out (ankle), the Seahawks figure to feed the ball to Eddie Lacy again (11-52-0 Sunday) Thomas Rawls (a healthy scratch Sunday), and the newly unveiled secret weapon McKissic (two touchdowns Sunday).

Whether another No. 1 RB emerges from the group could well depend on injury again, or the continued development of McKissic, or improved performance from Lacy (3.4 YPC) or Rawls (0.8 YPC).

Your gut might want to pipe up with “committee, obvious committee situation” but your gut didn’t foresee McKissic, now did it.

5. Sack surplus

TrendCon level, last week: Worth Monitoring

TrendCon level: this week: Worth Monitoring

One of the ways to counteract the Seattle offensive line’s propensity to let free rushers at Wilson is for the Seattle defensive line to do the same to opposing QBs. If the two lines both allow similar amounts of sacks, the game can be decided elsewhere on the field, where Seattle often has a talent advantage.

Through two games, the Seahawks stood even with their opponents on sacks; through three they were down by one. After the Colts game? A 3-3 standoff leaves us with Opponents 10, Seahawks 9. Close enough to keep keeping tabs.

6. Shaquil Griffin’s role is large, especially for a rookie

Narrative status, last week: Holding True

Narrative status, this week: Holding True

Griffin will continue to be targeted. On Sunday, Richard Sherman and Justin Coleman combined to allow three yards in coverage. That’s your star corner and slot corner taking a receiver out of the game on each snap.

Targets therefore happened to Shaq, but rather than focus on the negative -- six points given up below -- it’s worth seeing what he did well.

  • not beaten off the line
  • turns hips to follow receiver
  • does not allow separation
  • forces pass to be perfect
  • gets a hand up as ball arrives
  • leaps to increase catch difficulty

Most of the time, that process will get the job done, except when Donte Moncrief makes the kind of play that explains why he’s in the league.

When Jeremy Lane returns, it’s not a given he’ll take back over on the outside. Or anywhere, with Coleman scoring touchdowns.

7. The defense’s return to dominance

Narrative status, last week: Mostly Dubious

Narrative status, this week: Worth Monitoring

The statistics will continue to tell their numerical tale. What effect the Cliff Avril and Lane injuries have will be harder to ascertain.

Points allowed: 19.3 (10th)

Passing yards allowed: 184.8 (4th)

Yards/attempt against: 5.7 (5th)

Passer rating against: 78.8 (8th) — last year it was 87.0

Rushing yards allowed: 134.0 (27th)

Yards/carry against: 5.0 (30th)

Sacks: 9 (T-20th)

Takeaways: 4 (T-17th)

Turnover margin: +1

The Legion of Boom is back to dominance; the rushing defense is still recovering from breakdowns in Tennessee and against San Francisco. Once DVOA numbers appear we’ll work them into the mix, as a good summary of the total defensive effort.

Did somebody say effort?