RENTON – If you’re into the whole midterm grade thing, it seems a mandate that an NFL team that stands 4-4 deserves a “C.”
Passing without distinction, but still having plenty of time to work that grade higher. Maybe a soft-hearted grader could bump the Seahawks up to C-plus considering five of their first eight games were on the road.
The Seahawks’ record is an obvious reflection of mixed results in many areas; so much better than last season’s 2-6 start, but projecting a sense of disappointment as two consecutive road losses dulled the rush of a 4-2 beginning.
As expected, Seahawks coach Pete Carroll sees the season as half-full, and reeled off a rapid-fire list of the team’s strengths heading into the final eight games: “We know we can run the football. We can play good defense. We’re becoming more efficient in the passing game. We’re protecting the quarterback well. Our special teams are really rock solid.”
All those are valid assessments. And if last season’s progression was an indicator, the Seahawks finish well. Last year’s second-half improvement (5-3 down the stretch) was the result of establishing an identity as a running team with an aggressive defense. No such makeover is necessary this season.
“We’re going to continue to ride the defense and continue to ride the running game and continue to count on special teams and as we grow, hopefully, the way things are set up, we can make some noise here in the second half,” Carroll said.
His use of the word “here” was not an accident. The Seahawks have five of their final eight games at home. Thus far, they’re 3-0 at home and 1-4 on the road.
They average about a touchdown more scoring at home, and rookie quarterback Russell Wilson has six touchdowns and no interceptions at home, but four touchdowns and eight interceptions away from CenturyLink Field.
“We didn’t play well enough on the road,” Carroll said of the primary first-half problem. “That’s what it comes down to. We didn’t finish the games we were close in. We had as many close ones as anybody, and we had a chance to win them all.
“We’ll try to take those experiences and what we have learned, and execute better down the stretch and see if we can win all those games.”
Carroll called Wilson the biggest surprise of the first half of the season.
“He’s grown, he’s been attacked, he’s been under the gun in so many games,” Carroll said. “And Russell has shown his character and athleticism and done some great stuff. He needs to get better, just like everybody else does.”
Wilson’s passer rating of 82.4 is 20th in the NFL, and is second to Washington’s Robert Griffin III among the five rookie starters in the league.
The defense was rated No. 5 overall after Sunday’s games, and third in points against. The rushing attack, behind Marshawn Lynch, is eighth in the league.
But the past two losses to San Francisco and Detroit have spotlighted some weaknesses against rushes up the middle and passes against their zone.
Toss in the home win over New England, and the Sea-hawks have given up an average of 400 yards per game the last three times out, with teams making better than half their third-down conversion attempts.
Pressure on opposing quarterbacks has been inconsistent, as they have a respectable total of 21 sacks, but eight of those came at home in one game – all in the first half – against Green Bay.
Carroll cited vast improvement in the Seahawks’ recent observance of the rules, since they’ve had just nine penalties accepted in the past three games after having 32 in their first three games.
“We have things to correct and things to get better at,” Carroll said. “This team is still young, this team is still growing, they’re learning … they’re pushing for a big finish to the second half of the season.”Dave Boling: 253-597-8440 email@example.com @DaveBoling