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Seahawks have solid run game with Walker and Charbonnet

Carroll would like to see this mix of RBs moving forward

By TIM BOOTH, AP Sports Writer
Published: September 25, 2023, 5:33pm
3 Photos
Seattle Seahawks running back Zach Charbonnet runs the ball against Carolina Panthers linebacker Deion Jones (40) during an NFL football game Sunday, Sept. 24, 2023, in Seattle. The Seahawks won 37-27.
Seattle Seahawks running back Zach Charbonnet runs the ball against Carolina Panthers linebacker Deion Jones (40) during an NFL football game Sunday, Sept. 24, 2023, in Seattle. The Seahawks won 37-27. (AP Photo/Lindsey Wasson) Photo Gallery

RENTON — Pete Carroll has always loved the idea of having two running backs with separate styles to feature in his offense.

Early in his Seattle tenure, it wasn’t needed with Marshawn Lynch carrying the load. But as years progressed, finding that one-two punch of styles has remained a want that’s been fulfilled at times and elusive at others.

Sunday’s 37-27 win over Carolina was the first glimpse of what the next attempt at finding that kind of duo could lead to for the Seahawks.

Kenneth Walker III rushed for 97 yards and two touchdowns, and caught another three passes for 59 yards. Zach Charbonnet, in his first extended work of the season, had nine carries for 46 yards and one punishing run where he sent Carolina safety Sam Franklin Jr. flying backward along the sideline.

It was the kind of mix and balance Carroll would like to see more of moving forward.

“If you mix your guys and feel confident about rotating them some to keep them fresh and to keep them really on their game sometimes you just see that things go one way or the other,” Carroll said.

“And I always thought that was a real positive and made us more dynamic in that regard.”

Geno Smith had another solid performance in the pass game and DK Metcalf was a force catching the ball with another 100-yard day. But it was Seattle running for 146 yards behind a makeshift offensive line that was the biggest plus moving forward.

For all Smith has shown the past two seasons, the Seahawks offense still operates at its best when the run game is producing. Seattle had rushed for just 85 and 82 yards in the first two games.

WHAT’S WORKING

Give credit to the work of offensive line coach Andy Dickerson and what Seattle has accomplished the past two weeks while playing with a series of backups. At one point on Sunday, the Seahawks had four reserves playing on the offensive line after left guard Damien Lewis went to the sideline with a hand injury, leaving only center Evan Brown among the regular starters.

Smith has been sacked three times in the past two games while the various combos of backups featuring Stone Forsythe, Jake Curhan, Anthony Bradford and Ben Brown have managed to keep Seattle’s offense working.

WHAT NEEDS HELP

Third down remains a major concern for Seattle, especially on offense after having to settle for field goals five times against the Panthers. The Seahawks are converting just 30.3% of their third-down attempts after going 3 of 13 on Sunday. Smith has completed just 13 of 26 passes and has a passer rating of 58.8 on third downs through three games.

The Seahawks’ third-down defense hasn’t been good either. Opponents are converting 57.4% of third downs against the Seahawks. Carolina was 10 of 19 on Sunday.

STOCK UP

Carroll was effusive in his praise of defensive tackle Jarran Reed, who played despite a groin injury. Carroll even referenced it as a “legit” injury which is usually the coach’s code for something significant. Reed had eight tackles, 1½ sacks, three quarterback hits and was credited with a pass defensed.

Reed’s playing a different spot on the defensive line than his first stint with the Seahawks, but it seems he’s making more of an impact in the new role.

“I think that’s the best game he’s played with us, at any time,” Carroll said.

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STOCK DOWN

It’s more an unfortunate circumstance than any knock on his play, but cornerback Tre Brown suffered a concussion in Sunday’s win and is in the league’s concussion protocol. Brown had earned a starting spot and had played well the first two weeks after seeing his first couple of years with Seattle get sidetracked by major injuries.

INJURIES

Seattle is hopeful to get several players back for next week’s game with the Giants. Cornerback Riq Woolen (chest), left tackle Charles Cross (toe), guard Phil Haynes (calf) and defensive back Coby Bryant (toe) all have a chance to return after missing Sunday’s win. Tight end Will Dissly (shoulder) is more unknown.

Then there’s safety Jamal Adams who should play in his first game in more than a year after suffering a torn quadriceps tendon in the 2022 season opener.

KEY NUMBER

2.9 — Opponents are averaging just 2.9 yards per rush against Seattle. That number will continue to be watched because it was such a problem last season for the Seahawks, but so far is an important counterbalance to a pass defense that has been leaky.

“We thought last year’s performance as far as stopping the run was embarrassing, and not the standard that has been upheld here,” linebacker Jordyn Brooks said. “That’s been the emphasis and I think we’ve gotten better each week.”

NEXT STEPS

The Seahawks make their only scheduled — as of now — Sunday or Monday night appearance of the season next week playing at the New York Giants. Seattle has fond memories of MetLife Stadium, winning its only Super Bowl title at the venue. Including the Super Bowl, the Seahawks are 5-0 all time at the stadium, including 3-0 vs. the Giants.

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