KANSAS CITY, Mo. — All eyes will be on the quarterback position today when Seattle faces the Kansas City Chiefs in the Seahawks’ third exhibition game. But the real engine of the offense – the running game – is already purring in midseason form.
The Seahawks are averaging 181.5 rushing yards per exhibition game, third-best in the league.
And it hasn’t been just Marshawn Lynch transforming into Beast Mode. Seattle’s starting running back has played in only one of the two games, finishing with 37 yards on six carries in limited duty last week against Denver.
Instead, it’s been a stable of reserve runners leading the charge, including rookie Robert Turbin, Leon Washington, Kregg Lumpkin and Tyrell Sutton.
In fact, rookie quarterback Russell Wilson, who will start for the first time today, leads the team with 92 rushing yards on eight carries.
But no matter which runner is in the backfield, the one thing that has been consistent is the effort and the execution of the offensive line.
Seattle offensive line coach Tom Cable said his unit has picked up where it left off last season, when Lynch had a league-high 941 rushing yards the final nine weeks.
“I think it was huge for everybody,” Cable said about the success of the running game last season. “First, the mentality thing and understanding we want to have that physicality about our football team. And once that became kind of our focus and we had captured that, then it was (coming in) and relearning – and that’s what we did, we started over and re-taught the whole thing. And then we tried to get as detailed in it at every position that we could.
“We’re ahead of last year, which is really exciting. We’ve got a bunch of guys back. The runner (Lynch) has kind of stayed right in form in terms of his discipline and just getting … a year older and a year wiser. So I’m very excited what we can do with it.”
Seahawks coach Pete Carroll echoed Cable’s sentiments about the progress that Seattle’s offensive line has made during exhibition play.
“We like to run it every game,” Carroll said. “We want to run it in the fourth quarter. We want to have that whole mentality and attitude on what it takes to do that. The commitment has been made.
“We have definitely bought into all of the time that it takes. We drafted a running back. Hopefully, we’ll gain benefits from that because I want that to be the makeup of our football team, that we run the ball, and we’ve done everything we can to emphasize that. So we’re pleased that we’re seeing some progress.”
Seattle’s ability to run the ball effectively is one of the reasons Carroll has taken his time choosing a starting quarterback to begin the regular season. The winner of the job will have the benefit of leaning on the running game and a strong defense, which means that he will not be required to throw for 400 yards to win games.
So Carroll is looking for the right combination of a quarterback who can manage the offense as well as make game-changing plays in critical stretches.
Carroll’s plan today is for Wilson to start and play at least the first half. Matt Flynn also is expected to play.
Carroll said he could wait to make a final decision about the team’s starting quarterback until the week leading up to the team’s regular-season opener Sept. 9 at Arizona.