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#HawksMailbag - September 10: What's up with the O-line?
Head coach Pete Carroll admitted as much on Monday afternoon. He noted the team started their early drives in tough situations (including their first drive from their own 5-yard-line) and elected to stay with the game plan to take some early shots down the field. Backed by a noisy crowd and home-opener anticipation, the Panthers unleashed an aggressive defensive front that pressured Wilson into 1-of-5 passing on the Seahawks first two possessions. The protection did get better as the game went on, as Wilson completed 24 of his final 28 pass attempts.
"It was hard," said Carroll. "They [the Panthers] were coming out there all fired up. Once we settled in pass pro-wise, we did a nice job as the game went along. We really thought that we targeted the pressures very well after we got going."
The offensive line's effectivness in the run game, however, was a little bit different story. And we'll get into that with our next question.
He should have, but he never had a chance to. That was the word Monday from head coach Pete Carroll. Lynch totaled just 43 yards on 17 carries, good for a 2.5-yard average. If you take out Lynch's final 14-yard read-option run that sealed the 12-7 win with 2:14 to play in the fourth quarter, you're left with just 29 yards on 16 carries for a 1.8-yard average.
"Not everything worked out the way that we’d liked," Carroll told reporters on Monday. "We didn’t run the ball very well. In our program, as you guys know, that’s a huge focus and so we were disappointed. We plan to go right back to business and get it done this week."
Asked to elaborate on what it means to get "back to business" Carroll pointed to making modifcations to the game plan in a more timely manner.
"We didn’t zero in early enough where we could make the adjustments that we normally make," Carroll explained. "It just took us a while. At the end of the game, we were able to run the ball enough to make the drives that we needed and things worked out. It just took us longer than we needed in that game in particular."
Carroll and assistant head coach/offensive line coach Tom Cable will no doubt put extra emphasis on improving the run game as they head into the week of practice leading up to Sunday's home-opener against a stout San Francisco 49ers defense that allowed just 63 rushing yards against the Green Bay Packers last week.
You're right, the offense has generally been productive when using the read-option attack. But a lot of the big plays from Sunday's 12-7 win over the Panthers came from quarterback Russell Wilson holding the ball for what may have seemed like longer than he should have. It doesn't sound all that positive on it's own, but when you couple it with Wilson's ability to scramble, evade pressure and find open wide receivers who have worked their way back toward the line of scrimmage, holding on to the ball can produce some big-play ability.
"Scrambling is inherent to how we play and we look forward to what the results are," head coach Pete Carroll told reporters on Monday. "That’s something that we’re really trying to be good at. We want to be the best team in football dealing with the scrambling opportunities and maximizing those."
Carroll pointed to Wilson's natural, yet unpredictable skill to make things happen while moving outside of the pocket. That movement forces everyone on the field to adapt and Carroll has said the Seahawks will continue to emphasize it going forward.
"It’s as hard as you can deal with on the other side of the ball," Carroll said. "So we’re going to try to make that a big part of us.”
Defensive end Chris Clemons will be back at practice Wednesday, head coach Pete Carroll confirmed.
"He’s going to take reps this week," Carroll told reporters on Monday. "It was kind of a modified week last week. He took reps Wednesday and we will just see how he does. We need to get him through just the practice routine and see if he can handle it, which we think he can. He looks great. But he hasn’t done that yet. So that means that he will be working against other guys. He will be pushing and shoving and all of that, in a limited fashion, and then we will take it one day at a time and see how he progresses.”
Carroll said Clemons believes he is ready to go and is "chomping at the bit" to get back on the field.
"We are having to hold him back until he can really prove it and then come back after that work and feel good," Carroll added. "We don’t know how long it’s going to take. It may take a couple of more weeks."
That remains to be seen, but wide receiver Jermaine Kearse has certainly made the most of his playing time to date. He hauled in each of his two targets on Sunday against the Panthers, one of which was the all-important game-winning 43-yard touchdown from quarterback Russell Wilson. Perhaps more important is the fact that Kearse's big-play ability has carried over from the preseason to the regular season. That level of consistency is not lost on head coach Pete Carroll.
"Kearse has done a wonderful job," Carroll said on Monday. "He can play every position and figure in on everything."
Head coach Pete Carroll has hinted at the possibility of veteran fullback Michael Robinson returning to the club somewhere down the line, but that's about as far as he's gone on the subject. Carroll did say that Robinson's replacement, second-year pro Derrick Coleman, did a nice job in the team's season-opener at Carolina.
"He blocked well enough to get that kind of recognition and he caught the ball and ran well with it very well too," Carroll told reporters on Monday. "He did a good job for his first game. He did well and contributed on special teams and did some really nice things there too."