RENTON The Seahawks’ offense has a magic number they are trying to get to in the playoffs.
It’s not the universal magic number, either -- even though that’s how many wins in a row it will take for Seattle to make its third Super Bowl in four years.
The Seahawks’ magic number is 50. That’s their target for combined pass completions and rushing attempts in a game.
The two numbers to which coach Pete Carroll and his staff pay most attention are turnover margin and third-down conversions. Seattle was in the middle in the pack on both during its inconsistent 2016 regular season: 16th in the NFL with a plus-1 turnover margin and 16th converting third downs 38.2 percent.
But there’s that third, insider number. The magic 50.
“If you don’t turn it over, and you can reach what we call ‘the magic number,’ 50, you’ve got a shot. A real shot,” Seahawks offensive line coach and assistant head coach Tom Cable said.
“All that other stuff is for people to talk about. But the truth in football, is it’s all about the football, which you hear here. When you can take care of it and you don’t give it up, take it away from the other team and find the right balance on offense, you don’t have to be prolific where every run is four yards and every pass is seven-plus. It has to have the right mix. When you can do that, you threaten people and you have a chance to go up top. We’re doing that -- at times.”
Yes, only at times.
The Seahawks reached 50 combined completions and rushing attempts five times in 16 games this season -- against Miami, Atlanta, New England, Carolina, and the home game against Arizona. They won four of those games.
The exception was Christmas Eve against the Cardinals. Seattle’s offense rallied with 13 points in the final 3 minutes that day, but the defense failed. It allowed Arizona to drive to the winning field goal in the final 60 seconds.
Seattle’s lowest combined total of completions and rushes this season was 39, in its wholly ugly evening Nov. 27 at Tampa Bay. Its next lowest totals were 43 at Los Angeles on Sept. 18 and again at Arizona on Oct. 23. Those happened to be the three worst offensive performances by the Seahawks in six seasons: a 9-3 loss to the Rams, a 14-5 loss at the Buccaneers and the 6-6 tie through an entire overtime at the Cardinals. Yes, not a touchdown in any of those three games.
In the 2015 regular season and postseason the Seahawks were 8-1 when getting 50 combined completions and rushes.
Going back to the 2013 team that won Seattle’s only Super Bowl championship, the Seahawks are 30-4 when they have 50 completions and rushes combined. They are 20-16-1 when they do not.
So that’s why Carroll, Cable and offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell has spent this week saying they want to get lead back Thomas Rawls more carries against the Lions, and, if Seattle advances past them, in what would be a divisional-round game Jan. 14 at Atlanta.
A cracked fibula sidelined Rawls for two months, until Nov. 20 against Philadelphia. He’s had only one game with at least 20 carries since his return, the blowout win over Los Angeles on Dec. 15. By the way, the Seahawks had 49 combined completions and rushes in that 24-3 win over the inept Rams.
“His resilience has been there. He’s ready to go,” Carroll said of Rawls following Thursday’s practice. “He’s been ready for about four or five weeks, and we can really see that he can turn it around and count on his legs and count on his quicks and all that kind of stuff.
“We haven’t got him the ball as consistently as we would like, and any runner needs to get the football to start to get a feel for it. I hope, like I said last week, I want him to get the ball 20 times this week. We’ll see what happens, we’ll see how the game goes.”
Carroll calls Cable his stats ace for tracking decisive trends such as this magic number of 50.
“Tom’s a brilliant statistician in terms of being on top of this stuff. He gets it,” Carroll said of the former Oakland line coach and Raiders and Idaho head man. “He knows how the numbers work, how the players work, how the personnel works. He’s such an asset to me because we go through stuff all the time. Sitting up front and talking and coming up with decisions that you have to go figure out as you go along, Tom has been through that stuff.
Last weekend was I when in the Bay Area my former Sacramento Bee colleague Matt Barrows, 49ers beat writer, said San Francisco may be looking at Cable to be the Niners’ new coach in a potential package deal with Seattle personnel front-office whizs Trent Kirchner and Scott Fitterer.
“He’s an experienced head coach,” Carroll said. “He’s just waiting for the opportunity to do it again.”
And lookie here: The 49ers are reportedly headed to Seattle next week to talk to Cable, Kirchner and Fitterer.
“It’s exciting to think that, but Pete is great in regards to that,” Cable said. “That’s what he’s training all of us to do, from the beginning, that was his philosophy: To try to do this better, to take guys where they want to go.
“It’s a great thought and opportunity down the road. But right now the most important thing is this football thing and Detroit.”
The Seahawks’ injury report from Thursday’s practice showed defensive tackle Tony McDaniel is still in the concussion protocol from last weekend’s win at San Francisco. Carroll said McDaniel, a run stopper, will not play against the Lions on Saturday.
That means more for rookie Jarran Reed, who has started the last three games.