SEATTLE — When he was in the early stages of his professional career, the Seattle Seahawks asked Russell Wilson just to do his part.
At that time, Seattle’s defense was elite. Their roster was young and ambitious and the depth they amassed could overcome seemingly any loss.
That’s not the case anymore, putting the bulk of the responsibility on Wilson now as the Seahawks try to make something out of this season and find their way into the playoffs.
“He was a huge factor in the game,” coach Pete Carroll said after Monday’s 34-31 loss to Atlanta. “He was all over the place.”
Numerous issues arose from Seattle’s second straight home loss. Most centered on a couple of questionable special teams decisions by Carroll, including his call to go for a fake field goal late in the first half rather than attempt a 35-yard kick. The fake was blown up by Atlanta’s Grady Jarrett and Luke Willson was thrown for a 4-yard loss.
Carroll defended the decision after the game and again Tuesday morning on his radio show.
“I like being aggressive when we have our chances. That was an opportunity to score a touchdown and we thought we had a good one,” Carroll said on KIRO-AM in Seattle.
Aside from the special teams issues is how dependent the Seahawks have become on Wilson offensively. It’s one thing to ask the quarterback to be a leader, an efficient passer and occasionally run when the opportunity presents itself. It’s another to do what Seattle has asked of Wilson through the first 10 games.
Seattle’s three currently healthy running backs — Eddie Lacy, Thomas Rawls and J.D. McKissic — have combined for exactly one more yard rushing (377) than Wilson has run for this season (376). And it doesn’t help that Seattle’s stellar defense has been devastated by injuries to starters Richard Sherman, Kam Chancellor and Cliff Avril.
It’s all been on Wilson’s shoulders, and likely will continue to be going forward. Between passing and rushing, Wilson has been responsible for 81.9 percent of Seattle’s total offensive yards this season. Impressive? Yes. Too much for Seattle’s desire to be balanced and have an established run game? Yes.
“I don’t think that it’s a lack of talent at running back. We have some great running backs, we just have to do a little bit better, that’s all,” Wilson said after the loss.
Part of the problem has been the inconsistency. Seattle started the season sharing carries between its running backs. When they decided to have Lacy be the primary ball carrier, he suffered a groin injury. Seattle then went back to Rawls, but he appeared to be missing open holes and was a healthy scratch from Monday’s loss.
Mike Davis brought a jolt to Seattle’s run game on Monday night, but he left early in the third quarter with a groin injury.
Because of the constant changes at running back, Wilson and his scrambling have been Seattle’s most consistent running threat. Wilson is averaging 6.5 yards per attempt, which would lead the league if Wilson had enough carries to qualify.
“We just need to see our guys get out there, stay out there, let them show what they can do,” Carroll said on his radio show. “Everybody keeps coming in and out and we can’t get a good feel for it. It’s been unfortunate. Nobody’s really jumped out. Some of that is the (offensive) line and how we’ve played. But it’s just been unfortunate it’s been so changing.”
• Seattle made a surprise roster move Tuesday by waiving veteran DE Dwight Freeney after just four games. Freeney had three sacks in his first two games but didn’t record a sack or tackle in the past two games. Freeney is in his 16th season and Seattle was his fifth team.
• Carroll said on his radio show that G Oday Aboushi will miss Sunday’s game at San Francisco due to a dislocated shoulder and that it’s unlikely Davis will make it back after leaving with a groin strain.