Twin 102-yard rushing performances. First defeat of the season.
Both quarterback Russell Wilson and running back Marshawn Lynch topped the century mark with their feet against the Indianapolis Colts last Sunday. For such rare and remarkable ground-game productivity, the Seattle Seahawks were rewarded with their first defeat of the 2013 season.
How important is a 100-yard rushing performance anymore? In the NFL, running the ball often means you’re just giving the other guys’ defensive backs a chance to catch their breath. Running the ball is tantamount to “taking your foot off the gas.”
In a tight contest against an offensively productive opponent, NFL teams can rarely afford to shun scoring opportunities at any stage of the game. The fact is, if you want to score NFL points, you need to do it through the air.
Breaking it down
Through week five in the 2013 NFL season, 353 offensive touchdowns have been scored, according to NFL.com. The breakdown: 103 touchdowns came on the ground and 247 came through the air. That’s a ratio of 29 to 71 percent. Only two NFL teams, the San Francisco 49ers (7 – 6) and the Minnesota Vikings (7 – 4) have scored more touchdowns running the ball than by throwing it. The St. Louis Rams have yet to score on the ground, but have 10 passing touchdowns to their credit. They are the only team to have no rushing touchdowns.
Scoring means passing
Curiously, the historically pass-pass-pass Green Bay Packers are the only NFL team in 2013 to almost field three different 100-yard running backs (in only four games). James Starks topped the 100-yard mark in week two, Johnathan Franklin topped the 100-yard mark in week three and Eddie Lacy just missed the century mark with 99 yards in week five against the Detroit Lions. In the Packers/Lions game, the Packers delivered their best team rushing performance of the season with 172 (non-quarterback) yards. For this accomplishment, they were rewarded with their lowest offensive output of the season, with only 22 points.
If you want to win, you need to score. And score some more. You need to pass. Offenses need balance to be successful. But make no mistake, the odds of grabbing huge chunks of yards most often come in the passing game — at least when the passing game is in the hands of a competent quarterback like Peyton Manning (#1), Drew Brees (#2), Matt Ryan (#3), Aaron Rodgers (#4) and Phillip Rivers (#5) (from the NFL’s passing rankings). Seattle is currently a distant #25 on the list of passing production through five weeks.
The Seattle way
If you want to make the case for running the ball as the way to success, then Seahawks fans can be cheered by the fact that Seattle is currently ranked second in the NFL with an average of 159.0 rushing yards per game. While the Seahawks refine their passing game and wait for the arrival of newest receiving toy Percy Harvin, count on Seattle to keep pressing the advantage via the run game. It will be up to Wilson and the Seahawks offensive line to take advantage of single-high safety looks that should invite more passing opportunities.
While Seattle’s near-bottom-dwelling passing offense works on improving, the Seahawks will take solace in their running offense. Unlike the winless New York Giants, who enter week six with the worst rushing attack in the NFL at a mere 56.8 yards per game. Can you say, hopeless? That’s just too much pressure to put on a passing offense.
One-dimensional is no way to succeed in the NFL. The Seahawks know this. They’ve earned their 4 – 1 start the hard way — largely on the ground. If they want to continue their successful run, the Seahawks need to make major strides in the passing game.