Offense closed with a rush in 2012 season

Posted Jan 16, 2013

After trying to find its legs early, the Seahawks’ offense rolled through the second half of the season and into the playoffs by following Marshawn Lynch’s lead and unleashing rookie QB Russell Wilson.

As the Seahawks were preparing to travel to Chicago for a Week 13 matchup against the Bears, Darrell Bevell was asked if that might be the week he would open up the offense.

The team’s offensive coordinator laughed and offered, “I think that is a trick question.”

The trick, as it turned out, was on the team’s remaining seven opponents, as the Seahawks averaged 35 points in December and January after averaging 19.9 in their first 11 games.

While discussing the selection of left tackle Russell Okung as the Seahawks’ Man of the Year two weeks later, offensive line coach Tom Cable offered, “We can run the football, really, whenever we want to.”

Brash? No. Bash? Definitely, as the Seahawks averaged 213.8 rushing yards in the five games to close the regular season and their wild-card playoff victory over the Washington Redskins. The Seahawks set single-season records during the regular season for total rushing yards (2,579), average rushing yards (161.2) and per-carry average (4.8) – each bettering the mark established during the team’s Super Bowl run in 2005 (2,457, 153.6 and 4.7).


A closer look at the Seahawks’ offense during the 2012 season:

Where they ranked: No. 17, averaging 350.6 yards – No. 3 rushing, 161.2; No. 27 passing, 189.4

Statistical leaders: Regular season
Rushing: RB Marshawn Lynch, 1,590 yards
Passing: QB Russell Wilson, 3,118 yards, with 26 touchdowns and 10 interceptions
Receiving: WR Sidney Rice, 50 for 748 yards and 10 touchdowns
Touchdowns: Lynch, 12 (11 rushing, one receiving)
16-start players: RT Breno Giacomini, OG Paul McQuistan, C Max Unger, Lynch, Rice, Wilson

Statistical leaders: Postseason
Rushing: Lynch, 178 yards; Wilson, 127
Passing: Wilson, 572 yards, with three touchdowns and one interception
Receiving: TE Zach Miller, 12 for 190 yards; WR Golden Tate, 5 for 138 yards
Touchdowns: Lynch, two

Captain: Unger

Postseason honors
All-Pro: Unger and Lynch
Pro Bowl: Russell Okung, Unger, Lynch
Pro Bowl alternates: FB Michael Robinson (first), Wilson (third)

Obviously, the improvement made by the Seahawks’ offense during the just-completed 2012 season was more than the proverbial strides. It was quantum leaps, especially in the second half.

And the obvious place to start in discussing the reasons for the improvement is rookie quarterback Russell Wilson. As he improved, the offense became more productive – with the overwhelming evidence being that the Seahawks scored at least 20 points in each of their final nine games, including playoffs, after doing it only twice in their first seven games.

“Russell is just getting started,” fullback Michael Robinson said. “That’s the thing; he can will you to a victory. That’s what you want in your leader. That’s what you want in your quarterback. He can only get better, and I look forward to seeing it.

“I love what we’ve got going on here. We have something special.”

While the how-come conversation regarding the offensive improvement needs to start with Wilson, it certainly can’t end with the rookie QB.

There was Marshawn Lynch, who had career-bests in rushing yards (1,590), per-carry average (5.0) and 100-yard games (10) during the regular season and then scored the game-winning touchdown in the wild-card playoff victory over the Redskins and also scored what should have been the game-winner in Sunday’s two-point loss to the Atlanta Falcons in their divisional-round game.

There was Sidney Rice, who not only led the team in receptions and receiving yards (50 for 748) but started 16 games for first time in his six-season NFL career.

There was Golden Tate, who finally became the big-play receiver the Seahawks envisioned when they selected him in the second round of the 2010 NFL Draft. Two of his seven touchdown receptions in the regular season went for 41 and 38 yards, and each of the seven was worthy of highlight-reel status. He added a 29-yard TD catch against the Falcons.

There was tight end Zach Miller, who showed that he really can catch as well as block by grabbing 38 balls in the regular season and then going off against the Falcons with an eight-catch, 142-yard performance – after tearing the plantar fascia in his left foot on the Seahawks’ first possession of the game.

There was Robinson, who continued to lead block for Lynch at a Pro Bowl level and made the most of the opportunities he was given to have the ball in his hands.

There were the situational efforts of second tight end Anthony McCoy (three TD catches), slot receiver Doug Baldwin (three TD catches) and rookie running back Robert Turbin (4.4-yard average).

And, of course, there was that Cable-coached line that was anchored by All-Pro and Pro Bowl center Max Unger and also featured Okung’s Pro Bowl performance at left tackle, the tough-as-they-come play of Breno Giacomini at right tackle, the cohesive and versatile efforts of guard Paul McQuistan and the job-sharing contributions of rookie J.R. Sweezy, John Moffitt and James Carpenter at the guard spot opposite McQuistan.

It all came together during that blur of a stretch in December when the Seahawks became the first team since 1950 to score 150 points in a three-game period by blowing out the Arizona Cardinals 58-0, dispatching the Buffalo Bills 50-17 and then dismantling the NFC West champion and conference title game-bound San Francisco 49ers 42-13. The defense and special teams chipped in with two touchdowns each, but the offense scored 15 TDs – six by Lynch; three on runs by Wilson and six more on his passes. By comparison, the offense didn’t score its 15th touchdown to start the season until the Week 9 victory over the Minnesota Vikings.

The sum of the constantly improving parts which manifested itself in that avalanche of December touchdowns was a unit that only got better as the season progressed, and provides the impetus for even better things to come.

“It doesn’t feel real good right now, but now we’ve been there – won a playoff game, lost a playoff game. We know how it feels,” Giacomini said on Monday, when the players were cleaning out their lockers. “Hopefully, we can learn from this season.

“That’s the good thing we can take out of this. We know how it feels, and how bad it feels not to win. This week, we’re going to watch games, rather than play in one of them. That’s what’s going to hurt the most.

“We’ll be better. We’ll learn from this. It’s probably a good thing this happened, because we’ll just grow from it and keep getting better – just like we did all season. We’re going to be a lot more hungry next year.”

As pleased as the offensive players were with their improvement during the season, they obviously are not satisfied. Monday, Lynch posted “Unfinished business” on his Facebook page.

Asked if the season ending 30 seconds and a 49-yard Falcons’ field goal shy of advancing to the NFC Championship game can serve as motivation as the Seahawks move ahead, Wilson offered, “I definitely think so. Marshawn is the nucleus for our team in terms of how he runs the football, in terms of how he works and all the plays he’s made for us this season and he’ll make for us in the future.

“The idea of unfinished business? Yeah. The key is, at the same though, it’s a new season. So we can’t look back. That’s where I think you have to have a fine balance. You’ve got to balance things very well.”

Kind of how the offense finally found its balance this season, and tipped things the Seahawks’ way in decisive fashion.


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