Although the Seahawks are 5-0 at home and 1-4 on the road, quarterback Russell Wilson likes to downplay the influence of geographical setting.
“A hundred yards is a hundred yards,” he says of the game’s unvarying acreage.
And, certainly, the ball is the same no matter where Wilson plays. In fact, they all have his name stamped on them.
But the disparate numbers prompt fair debate. At CenturyLink Field, Wilson has thrown 11 touchdowns and no interceptions (122.0 passer rating); elsewhere, he’s connected on four touchdowns and eight interceptions (65.8 rating).
At 6-4, the Seahawks are in playoff contention, but three of their remaining games are on the road, starting this morning at Miami (4-6), where the Seahawks are favored by a field goal.
Wilson grants that there are some obvious environmental influences — facing hostile crowds, for instance. But the road losses, he said, have been determined by just “one or two plays.”
“That’s the focus,” the rookie said. “You’ve got to eliminate those plays and just treat every play like it was the last play of the game.”
Excelling in the red zone and on third downs is crucial, he said. Touchdown scoring in red-zone situations at home (60 percent) is markedly better than on the road (38 percent). But third-down conversions are comparable. And he’s been sacked more at home (10) than on the road (nine).
A significant disparity is Wilson’s ability to connect on long passes at home, where he’s had 18 completions go for 20 yards or more, with only five of those “explosive” pass plays on the road.
The Seahawks staff spent a good portion of the bye week self-scouting, particularly searching for solutions to offensive shortcomings on the road.
“We tore everything apart during the bye week to see what we could do better, and that’s a major focus for us, to be able to go on the road and put the same show out there that we do at home,” offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell said.
The margin of each road loss has been within one score, so the problems haven’t kept them from being competitive.
“We’ve had opportunities to win them toward the end,” Bevell said. “We didn’t make some of the plays. I think we’re growing in that area and doing better each week.”
The troubles have included a little bit of everything, not always related to Wilson’s performance. At Arizona, the Seahawks had 13 penalties for 90 yards.
At St. Louis, Wilson threw three interceptions, and at San Francisco, dropped passes and poor field position were issues, while the defense allowed 175 rushing yards.
Wilson had his best road performance during the last trip, at Detroit, where he compiled a 96.8 passer rating and led the team to a late lead only to see the normally reliable defense give up the final score.
“If you look (only) at Russell, I think you’re making a mistake,” said coach Pete Carroll, when asked of the road issues. “This is all of us, and we’ll have to play better and more efficiently on the road. Everybody’s got to contribute, and that goes all the way to the defense and special teams.”
Almost every week, Wilson’s efforts are compared with those of the other four rookie starting quarterbacks — all of whom were drafted in the first round, two rounds ahead of Wilson. They’ve had mixed results in the home-away comparison.
Andrew Luck of Indianapolis has a much better rating at home (88.5) than on the road (65.4). Miami’s Ryan Tannehill is consistent (71.1 at home and 70.4 away), while Brandon Weeden has a much better rating away from Cleveland (88.6) than at home (65.4).
And Washington’s Robert Griffin III has been excellent everywhere (101.7 at home and 100.3 on the road).
As they readied for their long flight Friday afternoon, Carroll said he was calling on all Seahawks, not just Wilson, to “elevate our entire game.”
“It’s across the board where we haven’t been as effective,” he said.
But it’s the quarterback who gets the most scrutiny, and today’s game at Miami offers the next chance to chart the growth and evolution of the Seahawks’ impressive rookie.Dave Boling: 253-597-8440