BY Art Thiel 08:59PM 11/16/2011

Thiel: One entree on Seahawks menu: ‘Ground Chuck’

Seahawks fans have seen this game plan before — run the ball until it cannot be run anymore. Against St. Louis, the worst rush defense in the NFL, there’s no other option.

Marshawn Lynch rushed 32 times against Baltimore. How about 50 against St. Louis? / Drew Sellers, Sportspress Northwest file

If ever the Seahawks had to give Marshawn Lynch the ball 50 times, Sunday in St. Louis is it.

Even if he gets only 50 yards.

Not only do the Rams (2-7) have the worst defense in the NFL against the rush, the Seahawks (3-6) are down two starting linemen, and still have a starting quarterback who engages in a weapons-grade wince every time in passes the ball more than 10 yards.

So a throwback offensive game plan of  Ground Chuck is the easiest route to prevail in game between two offenses that could set back the NFL to the time of single-bar facemasks. No fancy stuff such as pass-blocking. These teams combined have 22 players on the injured list. They’re as ragged as an Occupy Seattle tent camp.

Fortunately for Seattle fans, it is the style for which the Seahawks under Pete Carroll are built — or at least were built. Besides losing for the season Sunday rookie guard John Moffitt (knee), his fellow rookie next door at right tackle, James Carpenter, hurt a knee in practice Wednesday. The club said Thursday that he has a torn ACL requiring surgery and, like Moffitt, will be lost for the season.

The twin blows makes fora 40 percent discount on an O-line that had its finest moments of the season Sunday in the 22-17 win over Baltimore. Not only did Lynch gain 109 yards, on the last drive, beginning with a first-and-20, the team tank-treaded the last six minutes of the game to deny the formidable Ravens (6-3) a chance at a winning touchdown. Might have been the best non-scoring drive in Seahawks history.

The breakthrough followed a game in Dallas in which the Seahawks rushed for 150 yards, giving hope to offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell that the Seahawks’ large personnel gamble is starting to pay off.

Describing the final drive as “phenomenal,” he said, “You can’t just go out and do it once — you’ve got to do it back to back,” he said. “We’ve done that against two really good defenses so we’re pleased with the progress that we’re making.”

Lynch was the primary weapon in the final drive, ending up with 109 yards on a career-high 32 carries, and had a career-high five catches for 58 yards. The full Clydesdale. The week before in a loss at Dallas, he ran for 135 yards in 23 carries.

For a much criticized unit, the production was worthy of at least a fistful of confetti, some of which should be thrown at the most unsung individual in the offense, fullback Michael Robinson.

In the era of spread offenses designed to exploit rules changes that favor passing, the fullback position is as old school as newspapers, the Bee Gees and Caddy tail fins. The fullback may eventually go the way of bloomers in girls basketball, but not while Carroll is in charge.

“There aren’t very many fullbacks in the league that are really long-time, pro fullbacks,” Carroll said. “There are a lot of people getting away from it.  (Good fullbacks ) are hard to find.  Most are playing linebacker and they want to stay over there.

“He has his own little niche of things that he does that nobody else can do. He has great value to us. He’s a really smart football player. He played his best game since we’ve been here, his toughest game and most effective.”

Robinson, whose minimal profile comes mainly from being a graduate of the newly notorious Penn State, had himself a day clearing the way for Lynch, including having his way with the Ravens’ All-Pro linebacker, Ray Lewis.

“There were some nice blocks on Ray,” Bevell said. “I think he won the majority of them and Ray maybe won one.  It was exciting.

“We haven’t used that personnel a lot.  We made a change at halftime a little bit and decided to go to that and he rose to the challenge.  He did a great job.”

The virtue of emphasizing the run is that it’s the easiest thing to do when players don’t know each other. Carroll said six-year vet Paul McQuistan will replace Moffitt at guard. At right tackle, four-year vet Breno Giacomini is the backup.

A Feed the Beast game plan is about as far as a team can get from the conventional world of the NFL, especially with two backups in the starting lineup. Yet when the quarterback, Tarvaris Jackson, has a sore chest muscle that probably won’t heal until after the season, the notion of 50 handoffs must seem a little comforting.

Except for uniforms, fashion-correct is not a requirement in the NFL. Bring on Chuck Knox’s Eighties.


  • miss ground chuck THAT was a real football coach

  • miss ground chuck THAT was a real football coach

  • Pixel13

    And the UW should be doing exactly the same thing with their Beast (Chris Polk).

  • Pixel13

    And the UW should be doing exactly the same thing with their Beast (Chris Polk).