Scoring inside their opponents’ 20-yard-line – the red zone – has been an ongoing issue for the Seattle Seahawks.
With touchdowns in 40 percent of its trips to the red zone, Seattle is tied for 24th in the league.
Houston leads the league in that category, scoring touchdowns in over 70 percent of its trips to the red zone.
Seattle’s struggles were evident again in its 22-10 victory over visiting Arizona on Sunday. Seattle finished 1-for-7 in the red zone against the Cardinals, settling for five Olindo Mare field goals.
Seahawks quarterback Matt Hasselbeck and head coach Pete Carroll attempted to explain Seattle’s troubles after the game.
Hasselbeck said the Cardinals gave them a different look than the team expected heading into the game.
“We’ve sort of been hit or miss,” he said. “We started out in the first game of the year against San Fran; we were great in the red zone, great with our efficiency.
“I give them some credit, too. (Arizona defensive coordinator) Billy Davis had a good plan for us. We were really expecting to get one-on-one coverage with Mike Williams a lot, and they gave us a lot of two-guys-on-him looks, and it took away what we had going, essentially. We know what to do to get better, and we’ll do that.”
Part of Seattle’s problem in the red zone is seven starters on offense who weren’t starters on last year’s team, and the unit has not developed the chemistry it takes to execute effectively when the field constricts close to the end zone.
Add to that the fact veteran receivers T.J. Houshmandzadeh, Deion Branch and Nate Burleson are all gone, taking with them the savvy route running skills it takes to get open in the tight windows near the end zone.
So now Hasselbeck has to develop a better rapport with his young receivers in those situations.
“We’re going to keep working at it,” Carroll said. “I think that’s still part of our game with newer guys that we’ll improve at. I think we can count on getting better.”
One player who could get a renewed focus for the Seahawks near the goal line is tight end John Carlson. The third-year tight end out of Notre Dame has four catches in his past three games and one touchdown this season.
But Carlson has been an effective target for Hasselbeck in the past, totaling seven touchdowns last year and five touchdowns in his rookie season.