Sure, it was just one game. But what happened to Russell Wilson’s read-option runs?
That’s what many were wondering throughout the Seahawks’ opener. Many more were wondering that after Seattle’s 34-31 overtime loss at St. Louis. Still more are wondering if Sunday night’s game at Green Bay against a Packers defense that just allowed Chicago 189 yards rushing might be the return of Wilson keeping the ball on the option.
It would be the season debut of it, anyway.
The Seahawks’ base formation for their zone-read option running play, the foundation for the most productive rushing offense in eight years last season, is Wilson in shotgun with running back Marshawn Lynch offset a step or two to the quarterback’s side. It’s the formation from which Wilson got many of his 849 yards rushing last season, the sixth-most by a quarterback in NFL history.
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Yet all six of Wilson’s runs last weekend out of shotgun, for 32 yards, were on scrambles — called pass plays that became mad dashes away from the Rams’ incessant blitzing through Seattle’s remade offensive line.
When the Seahawks went into shotgun again on fourth-and-1 in overtime needing a first down to extend the game, Lynch was offset to Wilson’s right. Wilson read the Rams’ swarming front and handed the ball to Lynch running left. The league’s rushing leader since 2011 tried to cut back right, but St. Louis’ Michael Brockers had already crashed in from there past right tackle Garry Gilliam. By the time Lynch tried to run left again, Rams tackle Aaron Donald had beaten left guard Justin Britt. Lynch got dumped behind the line and the game ended without Wilson running the read option himself.
“It’s one of those things were I think people want me to take the ball a certain amount of times,” Wilson said Thursday. “You know, I’ve got the best running back next to me. I try to hand the ball to him every time if I can. That’s kind of my read, you know, just handing off to him. He can take it, I give it to him. He’s made a lot of spectacular plays for us.
“So every time I have that option, the read option, I try to give it to him.”
The last time the Seahawks and Packers met, in January’s NFC championship game, Wilson kept around left end on a read-option run for the 1-yard touchdown with 2:09 left in regulation that made it a 19-14 game.
The Seahawks recovered the ensuing onside kick before Lynch scored the go-ahead touchdown. Green Bay rallied in the final 1:19 for the field goal that sent the game to overtime. Then Wilson threw 35 yards to Doug Baldwin and the final 35 yards on a post route to Jermaine Kearse to win the game 28-22 and send Seattle to its second consecutive Super Bowl.
EARL THOMAS “FEELING GOOD”
Last weekend was All-Pro free safety Earl Thomas’ first game of any kind since the Super Bowl Feb. 1 and surgery Feb. 24 to repair his separated shoulder and torn labrum. He finished with a team-high nine tackles.
“It’s feeling good,” he said. “The first time out for me was great. I got a lot of confidence from that game. I didn’t know what it would feel like to tackle somebody, but it felt good once impact on my left shoulder happened. It felt really good.”
CLARK’S LEARNING CURVE
Rookie defensive end Frank Clark zipped through the preseason, playing most of each game while being at times unblockable.
But last week in the opener, the Seahawks’ top draft choice played just 16 of 60 defensive snaps as a situational pass rusher.
Defensive coordinator Kris Richard said following Thursday’s practice that’s about what Clark will be doing for the foreseeable future, indicating the rookie has some nuances to learn.
“Yes,” Richard said. “It’s just where he’s going to be for right now. Ultimately he will be called upon when needed, and then we absolutely look to him to come in and perform.”
LB Bruce Irvin did not practice because of a new rib injury. … The Seahawks also listed Gilliam as a limited participant because of his own rib injury. … CB Tharold Simon missed another practice with his toe injury. … DL Demarcus Dobbs missed practice with a bad back. … DE Michael Bennett (ankle), LB Bobby Wagner (ankle), Lynch (rest) and FB Will Tukuafu (foot) returned to full practice participation. … Packers starting RT Bryan Bulaga left practice early with an apparent left knee injury of unknown severity. He had reconstructive knee surgery in that knee that cost him all of the 2013 season, then re-injured it in last season’s opener in Seattle and missed one game. If he can’t play Sunday, fourth-year man Don Barclay would start.