There are a number of reasons why the Seattle Seahawks were better on offense in Sunday’s win over Jacksonville than they had been in the previous two games.
For starters, quarterback Russell Wilsonplayedbetter than he had a week earlier. And let’s face it, the opponent also had plenty to do with Seattle’s ability to march up and down the field. But the biggest single reason why the offense improved? It’s what they didn’t do.
“No dumb penalties,” said receiver Doug Baldwin. “We stayed away from the dumb mental mistakes and the dumb penalties, and we made the most of our opportunities.”
In their first two games, the Seahawks were flagged for 19 penalties that set them back 183 yards. Seattle still won, thanks in large part to a defense good enough to overcome mistakes, and an offense that, against Carolina in particular, passed its way past some less-than-ideal down and distance situations. But on Sunday, the Seahawks were hit with just four penalties for 24 yards.
“We did better on offense,” Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll said. “We function better, were cleaner, sharper, got rid of the major penalties that could really hurt you, and that was the biggest, obvious difference.”
As Wilson so often says, one of the keys to success on third down is staying on schedule on first and second down, which creates fewer third-and-long situations. That’s tough to do when you get a false start and begin a drive first-and-15, or when a hold sets up second-and-17. But when the penalties go away, so too do many of those third-and-longs.
The Seahawks had 11 third downs Sunday — though one of those ended up being wiped out by a Jacksonville penalty — and only four of those were longer than third-and-five, with just one being longer than third-and-10.
So what changed last week? It wasn’t as if the Seahawks didn’t know they could improve in that area before they began preparation for the Jaguars last week. They were one of the most penalized teams in the league early last season before cleaning it up as the year went on, then the penalties came back in the preseason.
Carroll joked that, “I think I did a really good job this week for the first time. I really got my act together. Heck, I don’t know, we’re trying.”
But joking aside, Carroll and his coaching staff have been working to get the message across to their players about penalties.