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Tuesday in Hawkville: Not good enough on third downs leads to not enough plays

Posted Jan 7, 2014

While self-scouting during their playoff bye week, the Seahawks’ offensive coaches came to the obvious conclusion that not converting enough third-down situations led to not being able to run enough plays.

A recap of the activities at Virginia Mason Athletic Center for Jan. 7, when the Seahawks began practicing for Saturday’s divisional playoff game against the New Orleans Saints at CenturyLink Field:

WORD OF THE DAY: SELF-SCOUTING

The Seahawks used their playoff bye week to do some self-scouting, and the exercise led offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell to the obvious conclusions when it came to the inconsistency of his unit in the final four games of the regular season.

YOU DON'T SAY

“It certainly is more fun to play here for us than to go on the road. We have a tremendous connection with our fans and the 12th Man at CenturyLink Field.”

Seahawks coach Pete Carroll

“We take a look at all of it, and getting those plays No. 1,” Bevell told the media after a spirited Tuesday practice in preparation of Saturday’s playoff opener against the New Orleans Saints. “I know we’ve already had this conversation about having 50 plays. So that goes right to third down.”

Yes it does. In the losses to the 49ers in San Francisco in Week 14 and the Arizona Cardinals at CenturyLink Field in Week 16, the Seahawks ran 50 and 51 plays – and they were 5-of-15 and 2-of-13 on third downs in those games. In the games where the Seahawks had 69 plays, their second-highest totals of the season, they were 9-of-15 on third downs in their 33-10 victory over Falcons in Atlanta in Week 10 and 7-of-14 in their 34-7 victory over the Saints at CenturyLink Field in Week 13.

“We’ve had some great weeks on third down and then we’ve had some that weren’t very good,” Bevell said. “And when we’re in the 50s in total plays, that’s where our third downs have been hurting us. So we’ve got to really work on that area.”

YOU DON'T SAY

“There’s probably four or five of these stadiums that really challenge you with communication. They challenge you with crowd noise. It’s just loud.”

Saints coach Sean Payton

In the last month of the regular season, the Seahawks were 14-of-51 in third-down situations, or 27 percent. In their first 12 games, when they were 11-1, the Seahawks were converting 41 percent, or 62-of-153.

Still, during the four-game stretch, the Seahawks did have touchdown drives of 80, 80 and 72 yards. But they also settled for field goals on six of their 12 red-zone possessions – with five touchdowns and a missed field goal.

“We’ve got to get back better there,” Bevell said. “We’d climbed all the way to Top 5, then we had some issues. So we’ve got to make sure that we can finish drives when we get those opportunities down there.”   

INJURY REPORT: NOT UNTIL REAL WEDNESDAY

STAT DU JOUR: LOOKING FOR WIN NO. 2 IN SEASON NO. 2

Russell Wilson is looking to become the third quarterback in franchise history to win multiple playoff games after going 1-1 in the postseason during his rookie season. Here’s a look at the players who have recently quarterbacked the Seahawks in the playoffs and their records:

Player (seasons) W-L
Matt Hasselbeck (2003-07, 2010)   5-6
Dave Krieg (1983-84, ’87-88)  3-4
Russell Wilson (2012)  1-1
Jon Kitna (1999)  0-1

Even though they play Saturday, the Seahawks and Saints don’t have to issue their first injury report of the week until Wednesday.

But during his pre-practice Q&A session with the media, coach Pete Carroll discussed the fact that rookie tight end Luke Willson would return to practice for the first time since spraining an ankle in the regular-season finale and wide receiver Percy Harvin would continue to practice. Seahawks.com writer and producer Tony Drovetto provides the details.

OPPONENT WATCH: DREW BREES

No introductions are needed when it comes to Carroll and Saints quarterback Drew Brees, and not just because their teams met in Week 13 at CenturyLink Field. Brees has been, well, let Carroll handle that one.

“He’s an incredible football player,” Carroll said. “Just historic numbers and accomplishments and there’s nothing that guy can’t do. So that’s as hard as it gets. He’s completing almost 69 percent of his passes, which is a crazy number at the end of the season. So we hold him in the highest regard.”

YOU DON'T SAY

“The key heading into the Seahawks’ first-round bye was to get rest. The key this week is to not be overconfident. …The feeling here is that Pete Carroll will have his 'Hawks ready to play.”

Elliott Harrison, putting the Seahawks at No. 2 behind the Broncos in a special edition of his power rankings at NFL.com

In that “Monday Night Football” game at CenturyLink Field on Dec. 2, the Seahawks’ No. 1-ranked defense held Brees to 147 passing yards, his lowest total since Week 16 in 2006 against the New York Giants (132); and a 3.7-yard average per pass play, compared to his 7.94-yard average for the season.

UP NEXT: “TURNOVER THURSDAY,” AND A “BLUE WEEK”

The players will practice again Wednesday, which is “Turnover Thursday” this week because of the Saturday game.

The “Blue Friday” activities also are being expanded during this playoff-opener week. Wednesday, Gov. Jay Inslee and former nine-time Pro Bowl left tackle Walter Jones will raise a “12” flag at the Capitol Building. Thursday, weather permitting, a large “12” banner will be pulled behind a plane along the I-5 corridor between Tacoma and Everett. Friday, Hall of Fame defensive tackle Cortez Kennedy will raise a “12” flag atop the Space Needle; a “12” banner will be pulled behind a plane along the I-405 corridor between Renton and Kirkland; and a Fan Rally will be held at Renton City Hall starting at 11:30 a.m.

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