The Seattle Seahawks’ offense ran out of options early on Sunday.
Like the fourth play of Seattle’s first possession against Kansas City. Seattle needed one yard on fourth down, just one, and the Seahawks opted against the run.
On the one hand, it’s hard to second guess that decision, considering Marshawn Lynch had just been stopped for no gain on third-and-one. But Seattle wound up attempting a fade route to Golden Tate, a 5-foot-10 rookie, which is not exactly a high-percentage alternative.
The pass fell incomplete, which is perhaps the best description of Seattle’s offense at this point, given the Seahawks’ running game. Or, more accurately, their lack of one.
Seattle is averaging 77.9 yards rushing, which is the worst in the league and historically awful in the franchise’s history. The Seahawks have never averaged fewer than 87 yards per game rushing since entering the league.
The Seahawks finished with 12 rushes in the 18-point loss to Kansas City, two of those by quarterback Matt Hasselbeck.
“It’s not the way that we want to play,” coach Pete Carroll said. “I continue to tell you that, and I’m hoping that we’ll be able to transition. We need to get back to where we’re more balanced.”
That would constitute a change in direction, because two weeks ago in Arizona, the Seahawks were throwing the ball around like it was 2007. Combined with the game at New Orleans the following week, the result was 746 passing yards in back-to-back road games, the most prodigious two-week total for Seattle since 2002.
But that success in the passing game didn’t go much further than Mike Williams, because when he missed Sunday’s game against the Chiefs with a foot strain, the Seahawks went more than 20 minutes without gaining a first down and had 71 yards of offense at halftime.
It’s one thing to have a player like Williams as a weapon and another thing entirely for him to be the only one.
No one expected Seattle’s ground game to be a strength, but it’s not too much to ask that it show improvement. After all, that was the emphasis this offseason when the Seahawks traded for Leon Washington and LenDale White during the draft. Then they acquired Lynch after four games.
The results haven’t added up to any improvement. Seattle is headed toward its fifth straight season without a 1,000-yard rusher.
It hasn’t helped that fullback Michael Robinson missed the past five games with a hamstring injury, and with five games left, the Seahawks are still trying to piece together some semblance of a ground game.
“We want to get back to balanced football,” Carroll said. “It just hasn’t fit together yet. So maybe with some consistency up front we’ll be able to start moving in that direction. That’s kind of what we’ve been counting on.”