The Seattle Seahawks struggled to run the ball effectively in 2016, finishing 23rd in rush DVOA, the team’s worst ranking since they finished 28th in 2010. Seattle’s issues ranged from offensive line play, multiple injuries to its running back rotation (except Christine Michael, who was cut the moment both Thomas Rawls and C.J. Prosise were fit to play), and Russell Wilson’s own health issues preventing him from being a threat as a runner.
With Rawls and Prosise almost certain to be major contributors next season, the Seahawks also added the big and physical Eddie Lacy on a one-year deal, and he’s projected to be Seattle’s #1 back. Unsurprisingly, Pete Carroll told “Brock and Salk” on 710 ESPN Seattle that you can expect the Seahawks to pound the rock more next season.
"We definitely will," Carroll said (quotes via ESPN). "We lost 100-something runs last year. And that was basically the story. That was basically the tale of why everything came about as it did. The defense had to do some more stuff. We had to throw the ball more. We had to pass protect more and all of that because the running game got knocked up.
"With the quarterback being a mess and the running-back situation, everybody being banged up, we were just unable to find it. So I think we’ll come roaring right back at it."
The running game getting “knocked up” actually explains a lot, as I have to imagine that it’s hard to get into the open field with everybody pregnant.
Not only did the 2016 Seahawks suffer a myriad of injuries, but they found themselves in more pass-reliant situations more than any other season under Russell Wilson. There were two-minute drill comeback attempts against Miami, Los Angeles Rams, New Orleans, and Arizona twice. Seattle’s 14-5 loss to Tampa Bay was the first time in the Wilson era that the Seahawks weren’t within one-score of their opponents in the final quarter. The 38-10 annihilation at Green Bay is the largest loss suffered by any Seahawks team since 2010.
As you can see in the tweet below, Russell Wilson had the biggest jump in pass attempts per game in his career, and the fewer rush attempts and rushing yards per game.
Russell Wilson's pass attempts/game have increased every year since he was a rookie. His rush attempts have fallen for 3 straight seasons: pic.twitter.com/xLUjXl6nYm— Graham Barfield (@GrahamBarfield) May 16, 2017
Seattle ranked just 20th in rushing attempts last season, and the called pass-run ratio was 64.5-35.5% according to ESPN, which is absolutely not the way Pete Carroll and company want the offense to operate. While Wilson has demonstrably grown as a passer and his responsibilities have increased, the Seahawks definitely aren’t built to function like they have New Orleans or New England’s offense.
A (hopefully) improved offensive line, fully healthy triple threat backfield, plus healthy Russell Wilson provides plenty of optimism that the rushing attack will return to great form in 2017. I think we could do with the return of a dependable running game capable of sustaining drives and killing off precious seconds in late-game situations.