QB Russell Wilson discusses the team's struggles on third down.
by Curtis Crabtree
RENTON - The Seattle Seahawks continued struggles on third down have become a major focus for the team this week as they prepare to face the Carolina Panthers on Sunday afternoon.
The problems have been even more of a focus after the struggles increased the last two weeks. Seattle has converted just 14 of 50 third downs offensively this season - a mere 28-percent.
The last two weeks against Green Bay and St. Louis, they converted just 4 of 20 third down opportunities.
"That's our biggest issue right now. It's our main focus," offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell said. "We kind of like what we're doing on first and second down. I think 309 of our yards have come on first and second down and I think we've netted like minus-14 (yards) on third down. We've got to do better there."
The struggles of rookie QB Russell Wilson have also been exacerbated in third down situations. The Seahawks are just one for their last 13 on called pass plays on third down in their last two games with their only conversion coming on a scramble from Wilson. Seattle hasn't converted a third down through the air since the fourth quarter of their week two win over the Dallas Cowboys.
"Sometimes it's maybe my fault or whatever it is," Wilson said. "Now we're just focused on how do we fix it? How do we capitalize on those situations?"
Carroll has also talked repeatedly about the team's desire to make things easy for their rookie quarterback, However, they have put Wilson in shotgun on 33 of their 50 third down attempts, and have lessened the threat of the league's leading rusher RB Marshawn Lynch. On 13 of their third down tries, Seattle has gone with an empty backfield out of shotgun as well putting the play on the shoulders of Wilson. Seattle has converted on just two of those 13 opportunities.
Also, Seattle has gone to an empty shotgun formation eight times in third-and-5 or less situations and converted just two chances. On the flip side, Seattle has converted 5 of 10 times on called run plays in third-and-6 or less. Four of the five failed opportunities came on "gimmick" calls (QB sweep vs. Arizona, triple-option vs. Green Bay, QB draw and RB flip vs. St. Louis).
When Wilson has been under center, Seattle is converting at a much-greater rate. The Seahawks have converted 8 of 17 chances (45-percent) when Wilson has been under center.
"We just need to convert. There's no excuse. We're a professional football team, professional players, we've all got a job to do. We've just got to be held accountable and go out there and make things happen," WR Sidney Rice said.
"We're one of the top in the league on first and second down so that should make third down that much more easier especially when we're running the ball as well as we are right now."
The statistics so far seem to imply Seattle would be better off putting Wilson under center more on third down and using the threat of the running game to take some pressure off Wilson. Seattle hasn't run the ball much out of shotgun so far this season and gives a heavy pass tendency that defenses can prepare for. To this point, Wilson hasn't proven he can make the plays necessary frequently enough to rely on him to continue to move the chains by himself in the passing game.
DT Brandon Mebane was held out of practice on Thursday with a sore calf. Mebane has had a history of calf ailments in the past. Mebane missed one game in the 2009 season and four in 2010 due to calf issues. No word yet on the severity or if it was just a day of rest.
Mebane had one of his best games last week against the St. Louis Rams and would be a big loss if he were unable to play. It seems too early to jump to that conclusion yet, however.
CB Marcus Trufant missed his second straight day of practice with a sore back. Trufant has been routinely hampered by back problems in recent seasons and it appears to be an issue once again. If Trufant can't go Sunday, CB Byron Maxwell and CB Danny Gorrer have been working at the nickel position.
G John Moffitt (knee) did not practice and is out for this week. DT Jaye Howard (foot) also did not practice for the second straight day.
Did Not Participate
LB Jon Beason (knee)
CB Chris Gamble (shoulder)
G Geoff Hangartner (knee)
S Colin Jones (shoulder)
G Mike Pollak (shoulder)
DE Antwan Applewhite (knee)
DE Frank Alexander (back)
G John Moffitt (knee)
Did Not Participate
CB Marcus Trufant (back)
DT Jaye Howard (foot)
DT Brandon Mebane (calf)
RB Marshawn Lynch (rest)