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#HawksMailbag - December 26: What are we doing to improve on offense?
Welcome to another edition of #HawksMailbag here at Seahawks.com, our weekly feature where we answer your Twitter questions about the club.
Coming off of last weekend's 17-10 loss to the Arizona Cardinals, a lot of you questioned the Seahawks offense that managed just 192 total yards. Pass protection, kickoff returns, and the return of cornerback Walter Thurmond and wide receiver Percy Harvin were also on your collective minds. Let's get down to it.
Third-down play has been an Achilles heel for the Seahawks offense the past three games. The team's conversion rate has gone from 40.5 percent (62 of 153) through the first 12 games to just 26 percent (10 of 38) through the past three - a number that includes last week's season-low 15 percent (2 of 13). Head coach Pete Carroll knows that converting on third down is important for his run-heavy offense to stay on schedule, something they have not been able to do of late, with running back Marshawn Lynch averaging just 57.8 yards per game since Week 10.
"This is really a big aspect for us being successful in our games," Carroll said to reporters this week. "You guys dig into that and you’ll see that when we convert, we’re fine. And when we don’t, it’s difficult on us."
Even though quarterback Russell Wilson was sacked four times and knocked down nine times against the Arizona Cardinals this past weekend, Pete Carroll believes the pass protection held up fairly well. A portion of the sacks surrendered came because of good coverage by the Cardinals, as Wilson had trouble finding open receivers down field.
It's not going to get any easier this week, as the Seahawks welcome the St. Louis Rams to CenturyLink Field, who have racked up the third-most sacks (49.0) in the League. NFL sack-leader Robert Quinn (18.0) and his pass-rushing pal Chris Long had three sacks apiece against the Seahawks in Week 8, when Wilson was brought down a career-high seven times. Long has sacked Wilson six times in the last two meetings between the two clubs. The Seahawks didn't have right tackle Breno Giacomini or left tackle Russell Okung in the lineup that game, so improvement in the area is expected.
Pete Carroll has been non-committal in naming a kick returner for Sunday's regular season finale against the St. Louis Rams, but wide receiver Doug Baldwin showed promise in place of the struggling running back Robert Turbin a week ago. Carroll praised Baldwin earlier in the week for the job he did against the Arizona Cardinals, when Baldwin averaged 28.5 yards on a pair of returns.
Carroll said Baldwin has been in his ear about holding onto the responsibilities moving forward, and Baldwin may get his repeated requests acknowledged this weekend. Would-be return man Jermaine Kearse has been nursing an ankle injury and wide receiver Percy Harvin (hip) is not participating in the week of practice. Wide receiver Bryan Walters and rookie running back Christine Michael, each of whom returned kicks for the club in preseason, could also be in line for some reps alongside Baldwin.
On Monday, Pete Carroll said they'll go one day at a time to see how cornerback Walter Thurmond does on the practice field before making the decision to move him back to the 53-man active roster. The impressive play of backup cornerbacks Byron Maxwell and Jeremy Lane has made Thurmond's return from suspension more of a luxury than a necessity and Carroll said that would play a role in whether or not they immediately place Thurmond back in the starting lineup opposite All-Pro cornerback Richard Sherman.
"He's just going to jump back in and see if he can help us out," Carroll said of Thurmond's return.
When asked about wide receiver Percy Harvin's status in his day-after-game press conference, Pete Carroll said Harvin would not participate in practice this week. That puts Harvin's status for this Sunday's game against the St. Louis Rams as unlikely. Carroll wasn't able to provide an absolute answer as to when or if Harvin would be ready to play this season, saying a roster move "may happen" with the ailing wideout.