Originally written on NorthWest Sports Beat  |  Last updated 10/20/14
3rd Down’s Weighing Them Down The boiling point for the third down troubles the Seattle Seahawks have had all season came during the Detroit Lions game-winning drive in the week 8 loss. Three times during that drive, the Hawks’ usually dominant defense had the Lions in a third-and-long situation, and three times, the Lions converted.  The two times they didn’t convert on third-and-long on that drive? They took care of business on FOURTH down. Top-5 defenses shouldn’t allow that. Offensive Efficiency Or lack thereof. As of week nine, the Seahawks’ offense ranked 26th in the NFL in third-down efficiency percentage, at a rate of converting 32.73 percent.  The Pittsburgh Steelers are ranked first with a conversion rate of 51.28 percent and the Redskins are at the back of the pack with a rate of 28.57 percent. Lynch has found success in the zone-blocking system, but the team still struggles in 3rd-down situations. (Photo: Paul Sancya/AP) Surprisingly, the offense is actually worse at home (where Russell Wilson hasn’t lost or thrown an interception), converting at a rate of 30.61 percent in comparison to 34.43 percent on the road, where he’s won just one game. Play Calling To Blame? Raise your hand if you’ve sat in agony on third-and-long as you watch Darrell Bevell call a halfback draw instead of trying to convert?  Everyone?  Okay. Now, it can be accredited a bit to the fact the offense is run by a rookie quarterback, so not wanting to open him up too much too soon is understandable.  But what was the excuse last year with Tarvaris Jackson?  Familiar offense, six-year NFL veteran and it was still conservative. In fact, Seattle finished with a 33.77 percent conversion rate last season, just a point higher than the offense this year. Despite a brilliant game called by Bevell during Sunday’s victory against the Vikings, I’ve been a huge advocator of firing Bevell and promoting Tom Cable to Offensive Coordinator. With the progression that the young offensive linemen have made during Cable’s time in Seattle, not to mention Marshawn Lynch‘s breakout as an elite running back in his zone-blocking system, it’s only a matter of time until an Offensive Coordinator or Head Coaching job comes calling. Elite Defense Can’t Get Off the Field As mentioned in the first paragraph, despite being ranked as the league’s No. 3 defense going into the game in Detroit, the Hawks’ defense just couldn’t get off the field. It’s no secret that the Hawks’ defense is a bigger defense—Brandon Mebane is the runt of the bigger defensive lineman at 311 pounds.  To keep the linemen fresh and effective against the run, the defense has to get off the field and the offense has to give them an adequate break. The offense did a decent job of holding up their end, but the defense was shooting themselves in the foot. The defense currently ranks fourth in total defense, allowing an average of 309.2 yards per game. If the offense can continue to progress as the season deepens, if the coaching staff takes the lid off of Russell Wilson’s game and if the defense can get off the field, we, the 12th Man, may get to personally kick Jim Harbaugh and his team right out of the playoffs. CLICK HERE TO CHECK OUT THE SEAHAWKS BLOG PAGE IN OUR CLUBHOUSE SECTION AT NWSB!
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