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Greg Knapp calls them “explosive plays,” and to the Seahawks’ offensive coordinator they’re those chunks-of-yards gainers that go for 12-plus in the run game and 16-plus in the passing game.
For quarterback Matt Hasselbeck, a lack of those big-bang plays has put a capital “I” in the Inconsistency that has hampered the Seahawks’ No. 23-ranked offense during the team’s 2-4 start.
“We just have to find a way to generate more of them,” Hasselbeck said. “That has to be an emphasis in our remaining 10 games.”
It’s not that the Seahawks haven’t generated “explosive plays.” There have been 30 in the first six games – eight in the run game, including a 62-yarder by Julius Jones for a touchdown; 22 in the passing game, including TD plays of 44, 39, 34 and 33 yards.
It’s just that there needs to be more, especially early in games to prevent the Seahawks from falling behind and being pushed into a catch-up mode. That was the case in the lopsided losses to the Indianapolis Colts and Arizona Cardinals, when the running game failed to generate any “explosive plays.”
There are, of course, reasons for the Seahawks’ offensive inconsistency. At No. 1 is another capital “I” – as in Injuries. Six starters already have missed a combined 19 games, including Hasselbeck and four-fifths of what is supposed to be the starting line.
The development of the zone-blocking scheme in the running game has been slowed by the on-going shuffling of the line. The Seahawks likely will use their fifth starting combination – and fifth option at left tackle – this week against the Dallas Cowboys.
“It is a problem, because you just don’t have that consistency,” line coach Mike Solari said. “You don’t have that communication. You don’t have that sense of feel of the lineman next to you. You just don’t. We’re just behind. There are no excuses. We’ve got to get it done.”
Of the eight “explosive” running plays, Jones has five – but none in the past three games; Justin Forsett two and Hasselbeck the other.
The passing game, meanwhile, has been a pigskin version of “Pardon the Interruption,” as Hasselbeck was replaced by Seneca Wallace for 2½ games after getting a rib fractured in the first half of the Week 2 loss to the 49ers.
Of the 22 “explosive” passing plays, Hasselbeck and Wallace each have 10, while they combined for one out of the SeneCat formation and the other belongs to punter Jon Ryan. As for the receivers, the breakdown is: T.J. Houshmandzadeh seven; Nate Burleson and John Carlson five; Forsett two; and one each for Jones, Wallace and Deion Branch.
So how do the Seahawks get more bang for their play selection on Sunday, when they face the league’s No. 22-ranked defense?
“Just to be automatic with some of the key guys that I throw the ball to,” Hasselbeck said. “If we can get some routes where we feel that kind of confidence – that automatic confidence that breeds consistency. Right now, we’re just close some times and we misfire.
“We’ve got to fix that as quickly as we can.”