Seahawks Morning After: Why Russell Wilson and the Seahawks thrive in hurry-up mode
Jerry Brewer column: Seahawks’ two-minute offense doesn’t give defense a chance to set up and takes advantage of Russell Wilson’s ability to throw and run.
Times staff columnist
For the second time this season, Russell Wilson coaxed an 80-yard, game-winning drive out of a sputtering offense.
In Week 3, he did so in overtime against Denver, resuscitating an offense that had scored only three points in the second half. And on Sunday, with the Seahawks trailing Carolina 9-6 with 4:37 left, he led the only touchdown drive of the entire afternoon. It felt as if he turned on a switch in both games, eschewing the struggles and playing with a level of decisiveness that he hadn’t shown all game.
That’s what great quarterbacks do, and many would simply consider this a part of Wilson’s magic. But Seahawks running back Robert Turbin and center Stephen Schilling offered more detailed explanations about why Wilson is built to thrive in late-game, high-pressure situations that require the Seahawks to go into hurry-up mode.
“When you’re moving fast, there’s only so much that they can do,” Schilling said of the opposing defense. “It’s hard for them to change things play to play. That’s why a lot of college guys like to go fast. That definitely helps, and our offense is based on rhythm. There are times in our normal offense where if we have a false start or a bad play, it gets us out of rhythm. But not in two-minute. Sometimes, two-minute just helps you get in that rhythm.”
On the final drive Sunday, Wilson completed all four of his passes for 53 yards and ran twice for 21 yards. Turbin said Wilson’s success in those situations comes down to two things: The defense’s inability to mask its coverage, and the Seahawks’ emphasis on late-game situations in practice. It simplifies the game for Wilson.
“The defense is forced to show their hand a little bit,” Turbin said. “Either they’re going to play it simple and safe, or they’re going to bring pressure. We’re in a hurry-up situation, and they have to show it because they never know when we’re going to snap the ball. Setting up on offense, coming out of the huddle, (the defense) can kind of disguise some things. Somebody can step up and back out (on defense). In two-minute, you don’t have time to do that, man. You get caught. We go over two-minute a lot, and it’s a big emphasis. I think that’s why we’re so good at it.”
Should the Seahawks play at a faster pace? It’s an interesting thought, and at times, they should change the tempo on offense. But they’ll never be a Philadelphia Eagles, Chip Kelly-style offense because Seahawks coach Pete Carroll wants to play off his stellar defense.
Carolina coach Ron Rivera was impressed with the Seahawks’ ability to spread out the Panthers’ defense late in the game. He saw Seattle use three-receiver sets, five-receiver sets and mix in Marshawn Lynch (three carries, 11 yards) just enough to diversify the attack. But for Rivera, it was Wilson’s mobility that makes the Seahawks so special when they’re in the hurry-up offense.
Wilson’s two runs were critical plays. He had a 14-yard dash to the 50-yard line the play after James Carpenter committed a false-start penalty. The Seahawks were facing first-and-15 when Wilson ran. His scramble made it second-and-1 and set up an easy Lynch 2-yard run for the first down.
Later, Wilson gained a first down by running for seven yards to the Carolina 23-yard line. On the next play, he hit Luke Willson for the game-winning touchdown.
“Their thought process worked pretty good,” Rivera said of the Seahawks, “but the biggest things were the two runs by the quarterback more so than anything else, I thought.”
Wilson has the perfect skill set for those situations. And that’s why he has 12 fourth-quarter or overtime comebacks in only 44 career games.