Seahawks Insider Blog

QB Russell Wilson, four times, on Seahawks' sub-200-yard passing games: "It's on me"

There's a disparity beyond records and place in the NFC West standings between the Seahawks (6-4) and Cardinals (9-1), who meet in what is essentially a must-win game for Seattle on Sunday at CenturyLink Field.

These two teams have vastly differing approaches to their passing games.

Despite completing only 27 more passes than the Seahawks -- and despite playing mothballed journeyman backup Drew Stanton in four games with starter Carson Palmer injured and now out for the year -- the Cardinals have 601 more yards passing. That's a huge chunk more.

Why? Arizona's receivers run longer routes. Its quarterbacks throw longer passes.

The statistical service lists that the Cardinals have 58 completions of 11 or more yards this season. The Seahawks? They have 35.

Sure, Seattle has a higher completion rate than Arizona, 62.7 percent to 58.7. But: 148 of Seattle's 183 completions, a whopping 81 percent, of those Seahawks' completions have been for 10 or fewer yards.

That's why Arizona with its two quarterbacks are 11th in league in passing and Seattle with Super Bowl winner Russell Wilson is 30th. Wilson has thrown for fewer than 200 net yards eight times in 10 games.

Four times in 10 minutes of talking before practice this afternoon Wilson said of the passing game's struggles: "It's on me."

But amid all these howls over how bad the Seahawks are through the air, this isn't a sudden shift. They are still a run-first team that only in the last four games has been running first consistently. Seattle is averaging 191.8 yards per game passing this season, far below the NFL average of 242.1. And they are 30th in the league in passes attempted, 292. Only Houston and Kansas City have thrown fewer passes.

Last season it was 202.3 yards per game, with Wilson having seven regular-season games and another on in the playoffs against New Orleans of sub-200 yards in net passing (yards passing minus yards lost to sacks).

In 2012, Wilson's rookie year, he had 10 regular-season games and one playoff game of under 200 net yards passing, as the Seahawks averaged 189.4 yards through the air per game that season.

You have to go back to before Pete Carroll became Seattle's coach, the Jim Mora-Matt Hasselbeck season of 2009 in which the team finished 5-11 and then cleaned house, to find the last Seahawks to average at least 210 net yards passing per game.

Point is, this isn't all that different throwing the ball than the previous four Seahawks seasons. What is different: The Seahawks spent the first month of the season spinning their play-calling wheels on getting the ball in all ways to Percy Harvin rather than relying on Lynch's running to set up a far more effective passing game and slow down foes' rampaging defenders crashing in on and chasing Wilson during the majority of his drop backs.

Plus, this season the Seahawks are scoring touchdowns on just 53.5 percent of their trips inside the opponents' 20-yard line. That's only the 20th-best rate in the league. That's down from 56.1 percent of TDs on drives into the red zone last season, which was tied for 12th in the league in 2013.

Prime example of this difference from last season to this: first and goal on the 9 in the fourth quarter last weekend at Kansas City, Seattle down 24-20 but poised to take the lead. On the first-down run by Lynch to the 4, all-important center Max Unger got a high-ankle sprain and twisted knee, lost for the next month. On second down Wilson throw into the right flat to Doug Baldwin was zero yards from the line of scrimmage, and Baldwin got tackled immediately. On third and goal, Lynch ran for two yards to 2. On fourth down, with play caller Darrell Bevell seemingly leery of running up the middle with fourth-string center Patrick Lewis now in at center, the Seahawks sent out wide receivers Jermaine Kearse, Baldwin and rookie Paul Richardson. Bevell said there was no run-pass option for Wilson; it was throw all the way. His one-step, fade-route throw sailed far over Baldwin's head incomplete while Baldwin got bumped by Kansas City cornerback Sean Smith.

Last season, that drive would have ended in a touchdown and a Seahawks lead.

"It's on me, more than anything," Wilson said. "There's a time and place to be big right now. We've just got to make those plays -- and we are going to. I believe that we are going to capitalize, that I'm going to make the throws when I need to make them. Guys are going to make the catches when they need to make them; they are doing a great job, they are showing up.

"Just keep believing, and keep delivering the football. And we are going to do it. ... In terms of our passing game, we've capitalized in good moments, when we've needed to, and sometimes we haven't. I think the times we haven't, it's really been more on me.

"That's something I believe I'll fix and I believe it's going to happen for us this week, and for weeks to come."