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Seahawks rushing attack is still nonexistent, Chris Carson not used most of second half


during a presseason game at StubHub Center on August 18, 2018 in Carson, California.

Harry How

From the moment the 2017 season ended, Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll expressed an urgency at needing to fix their rushing attack moving forward.

We have to get our running game back in order,” Carroll said at the NFL Combine. “We’ve just been so banged up the last couple years. We haven’t seen the continuity that we like. The connection to the overall play of the team really fits with the running game so I wanna make sure we bring that back.”

They changed offensive line coaches and offensive coordinators, drafted a running back in the first round and swapped out Jimmy Graham for Will Dissly at tight end in the hopes of being able to run the ball more effectively.

But through two games, the running game is just as absent as it was for much of last season, though this year it’s less clear as to why that’s the case.

Seattle’s running backs are all healthy. They’ve played in close games in each of the first two weeks. And yet, they gave just the ball to running backs on just 14 of 55 plays in their opener against Denver and on just 19 of 61 plays against the Bears on Monday night.

Just as curious was the absence of starting running back Chris Carson in the second half of Monday night’s game in Chicago. Carson carried the ball on each of Seattle’s first three plays of the game and had six carries in the first 19 minutes of game time. Despite saying Carson “really took the lead” at the position with his performance in Denver last week, he didn’t get another carry the rest of the game and wasn’t even on the field offensively for a single snap in the fourth quarter.

“He was a little gassed from working on special teams and helping us,” Carroll said of Carson. “We had some guys that were out so he had to kind of double dip, and we really wanted to see how we could do with Rashaad (Penny) and get him some playing time and get him out there.”

From a quick watch through the game, Carson appeared to have played on 19 or 20 total plays (including special teams) during the game. He did play on punt coverage teams a couple of times, but if Carson was “gassed” playing 20 plays of a football game, that would be surprising. He got four offensive snaps in the second half, all coming on the first two drives of the third quarter.

Carroll said it wasn’t performance or injury that kept Carson off the field.

“There was nothing about his play that kept him out of there,” Carroll said. “We just didn’t get enough chances and I wanted to get Rashaad going a little bit and see where he is and see where he is in his development.”

Penny got 10 carries, Carson six and Mike Davis three with Russell Wilson scrambling three times to account for 22 total rushes for 74 yards. Carson has gained 75 yards on 13 carries through two games for an average of 5.8 yards per carry. He’s been their most effective running back and he didn’t touch the ball in the final 42 minutes of a game Seattle trailed by only one score for most of the second half.

Between the 8:11 mark of the second quarter and 14:15 mark of the fourth quarter, the Seahawks didn’t run a single running play and had 14 straight pass calls. Wilson did have one scramble for a first down before halftime that counts as a rush.

For a team that spent the entire offseason wanting to kickstart its rushing attack again, the first two games haven’t done anything to suggest they’re following through on that plan.

Running the football a bit more might help Wilson not take six sacks in a game as well, which he has in each of the first two weeks of the season.