BY Art Thiel 07:31PM 10/23/2017

Thiel: Seahawks’ run-game flux averted disaster

The Seahawks swapped out left guards almost every series against the Giants, and swapped running backs every play on the first series. And they got away with it.

The Seahawks run game is 18th in the NFL at 108.3 yards per game. / Drew McKenzie, Sportspress Northwest file

Against a reasonably good, aggressive Giants defense, the Seahawks offense Sunday got away with a couple of under-appreciated maneuvers that bode well for the immediate future.

Throughout the game, they alternated one line position and the running back position, and still managed 425 yards of offense, including 39 pass attempts and only one sack, to win going away, 24-7

Rotating veteran Mark Glowinski and rookie Ethan Pocic (in his first career start) at left guard, in place of injured Luke Joeckel, should have been like leaving the door open for an avalanche. Pocic even had to sub in for C Justin Britt, who left the game briefly after twisting his ankle before returning.

Instead, the Seahawks moved the ball steadily throughout the game, although the red zone debacle in first half — 10 plays inside the 10 yard line, and no points — will preclude unloading more than one or two pieces of confetti.

“Generally (rotating offensive linemen in game) is not acceptable, but if you force your way into it, you can do it,” coach Pete Carroll said at his Monday presser. “There’s sometimes a sacred chemistry in there you don’t want to disrupt. But we’ve been through so much over the years, I don’t know why we would fall into that category.

“It worked out just fine.”

When it comes to the Seahawks and their offensive line, the sacred almost always gives way to the profane. The 104 rushing yards in 31 carries Sunday gave the Seahawks a 108.3 yards per game average, a mediocre 18th in the NFL. It’s nothing like the days of Marshawn Lynch, but given that a third starter, LT Rees Odhiambo, is also in his first year, the peril of losing to a 1-5 team was front and center through three quarters.

Procic and Glowinski, who will be in competition again this week ahead of Sunday’s home game against the Houston Texans, received a thumbs-up from Carroll.

“Both did OK,” he said. “I was real fired up for Ethan in that he played two spots. He did well jumping into center, playing well and jumping back. Glo played like he played and hung in there and did fine.”

Based on Carroll’s choice of words, it sounds as if the rookie second-round draft choice from Louisiana State may get the edge for Sunday.

“Ethan’s a very special player for us,” he said. “For a rook to come in and play across the board for us and hang in there and make calls and play solid football, that’s a lot to ask. We’re not slowing down on him — we’ll continue to hold him responsible for all of it.

“It’s why we were so excited about drafting him. We were hoping he’d be that guy.”

At running back, the first scrimmage play featured Thomas Rawls, the second Eddie Lacy, the third C.J. Prosise and the fourth J.D. McKissic. It hardly unusual to rotate backs, but all of them in a row in the same series? Carroll was a little vague on the explanation.

“I’m not sure I know how to answer that; what was I hoping to accomplish?” he said, repeating the question. “We wanted to see four guys right off the bat. (The Giants) don’t know who’s coming in and what we’re doing. We’re just trying to keep them off balance a little bit. There’s some thoughts in there that I really don’t want to share with you, but also it’s not that big of a deal, really.”

Whatever the secret was, none of the backs distinguished themselves in the series or the game. In fact, Prosise tweaked his sore ankle during pass protection on his only play and never returned to the game. Rawls had 11 carries for 36 yards, Lacy 11 for 34 and McKissic three for 15. Rawls also had the Seahawks’ only turnover, a fumble, and dropped a pass.

But Carroll was not despairing of the running game’s overall state.

“I think we’re moving, we’re moving,” he said. “We still ran it (31) times. I think we’re mixing it up and kind of finding our way and working at it. Thomas and Eddie and both banged it up in there well, and both looked good.

“We’re still developing. I still feel like we’re finding it. I’m comfortable about it, I have no problem with it.”

It’s easy to forget, because he was a rookie, but Chris Carson was the opening game starter. Despite missing the past two games after breaking his ankle Oct. 1 against Indianapolis, Carson remains the team’s leading rusher with 208 yards. QB Russell Wilson is second with 164. Six games into the season, Lacy broke the 100-yard barrier Sunday and has 108.

Lynch used to get that much fetching Skittles from the barrel in the garage. Then again, Lynch had to take BART home from the game with his new team, the Raiders, after his ejection Thursday in Oakland for grabbing a referee.  He has 266 yards on 72 carries, just a 3.7 ypg average.

Football life is hard everywhere. Profane over the sacred, every time.



  • Steed

    I wondered when Lynch would flake out on his new team. Week 7 is when.

    No sacred chemistry yet (understatement of the season) for the O line, but 1 sack is a good stat. And that was Wilson’s fault.

    Seems like they don’t really pull out the stops until the second half, when they have to start chucking it all over. They want to be a power running team, but I want to be Superman, and you don’t see me wearing a cape.

    It might be an ugly 4-2 but it’s still a good record at this point.

    • jafabian

      Lynch flaked out when he retired then unretired. I have always wondered if he retired to get out of his Seahawks contract.

      • Steed

        He flaked out when he ran into the game and shoved a ref, getting himself ejected and probably suspended for the next game.

        • art thiel

          And he did it to protect an opposing player. Ex-Husky Marcus Peters is his friend/cousin. That’s a pretty fair locker room divider.

          • Steed

            That’s another reason for the Raiders to not like what he did. But even helping a friend is no excuse. Peters was not in a “fight” or in any danger.

            People like Deon Sanders acted like Lynch just could not help himself. As if he can’t be expected to conduct himself like an adult because….because why? He is so loyal to his friends that he loses control when he thinks they are maybe going to get into a fight?

            I think Lynch likes (or maybe liked) the idea of being a Raider, and advancing his “brand” by playing in Oakland. But he doesn’t really want to play football. Guys who still love to play don’t keep “accidentally” finding ways to not play.

      • art thiel

        I think the parting was mutual. The Seahawks bosses have been careful in their comments about Lynch, because he was so popular with fans and players. But they were fed up.

    • art thiel

      I’d rather see you in a cape than a Wonder Woman outfit.

  • Effzee

    I like hearing that the switching up of the running backs is part of the mind-game against the defense. Makes me feel more comfortable in what they are doing on offense. Pete is a smart guy. If he had an every down back like Lynch (or maybe like he hoped Carson would be) then we would be seeing less rotation. Instead, he’s working with what he’s got and using it against defenses. That’s one thing I love about defense-heavy football and coaching. These guys are always looking at how to keep to other defense off balance, and not always focused on establishing a clear thing that they do. Instead, the thing they do is mess around with the defensive co-ordinator’s head. Its very interesting. I like it.

    • art thiel

      You’re showing a refined taste for the game. The absence of understanding that point is why so many fans are off-base in calling for the head of the OC after every 3-and-out. When a play doesn’t work, it’s easy to say it was bad play call, but most of us can’t see in the moment how the defense is overplaying, or understand the disguises, or knowing which offensive player is limited by injury or messes up an assignment away from the ball. Most important, we can’t know what the OC is setting up the D for. It may be three quarters down the road.

  • osoviejo

    Long before helmet comms, Tom Landry used to send in the next play to the huddle by shuttling guards. Fortunately for them, they only weighed about 240 pounds in those days.

    • art thiel

      I’m seeing your comment in fuzzy black & white.

      • dingle

        Don’t forget the fedora. I can’t really see Pete wearing one of those.

  • Bruce McDermott

    Enough time over the years listening to Pete-speak, you learn that certain words or phrases are code. That code was pretty darn clear when it comes to his analysis of Pocic vs. Glowinski. “Hanging in there” and “battling” (a favorite) and “doing fine” are ominous words for a player looking to start….