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Eric Goska column: Seahawks stay close to the ground, as always

Sep. 21, 2012
 
Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson fakes a pass while scrambling against the Dallas Cowboys at CenturyLink Field in Seattle on Sunday, Sept. 16, 2012. The Seahawks are running more than they're passing.
Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson fakes a pass while scrambling against the Dallas Cowboys at CenturyLink Field in Seattle on Sunday, Sept. 16, 2012. The Seahawks are running more than they're passing. / Stephen Brashear/Getty Images

TD spectrum

Teams that have thrown the fewest and the most TD passes since 2010.

Fewest
31 -- Seahawks, Rams, Browns
32 -- Panthers
33 -- Cardinals
36 -- Vikings
38 -- Dolphins
40 -- Raiders

Most
86 -- Packers
83 -- Saints
79 -- Patriots
69 -- Lions
66 -- Cowboys
64 -- Giants
61 -- Chargers
60 -- Falcons

More

Passing has not been a strong suit of the Seattle Seahawks in recent years, and with a rookie quarterback now at the controls, the team is not likely to join the ranks of the elite any time soon.

Monday’s game between Green Bay and Seattle will spotlight two teams on opposite ends of the touchdown pass spectrum: the Packers at the top and the Seahawks at the bottom alongside the Browns and Rams.

In the years since the Seahawks began play in 1976, the team twice has reeled off runs of five or more consecutive seasons in which it threw at least 20 TD passes: 1983-89 and 2003-07. Dave Krieg presided over the first while Matt Hasselbeck was the primary passer during the second.

Since Pete Carroll became coach in 2010, the team has been stuck in a valley. Seattle is the only club to have failed to throw more than 15 TD passes in either of the last two seasons. Further, its 31 scoring tosses in the last 34 regular-season games tie Cleveland and St. Louis for the league low.

Whether home or away, the Seahawks have trouble locating the end zone. They’ve thrown 16 TD passes at CenturyLink Field and 15 in games on the road.

They have been held without a TD through the air 11 times over that span. Their record in those games is 3-8, with all three wins coming at home.

Just once since 2010 has the team thrown three scoring passes in a game. Tarvaris Jackson had that many against the Falcons in Week 4 a year ago, but one of his two interceptions was turned into a touchdown by Atlanta, and the Falcons prevailed 30-28.

This dearth of scoring passes by Seattle is the most obvious deficiency of what can be described at best as a mediocre passing attack. The team ranks far down the list in a number of other categories including attempts (1,107; 23rd), passing yards (7,284; 24th) and passer rating (75.04; 26th).

The Seahawks haven’t protected well, either. The 90 sacks they’ve given up since 2010 are more than all but eight teams.

Duing his first two years in Seattle, Carroll utilized three quarterbacks: Jackson (450 attempts), Hasselbeck (444) and Charlie Whitehurst (155). All three are no longer with the organization.

The job belongs to Russell Wilson, the team’s third-round draft choice who beat out former Packer Matt Flynn during training camp to earn that honor. Wilson led the University of Wisconsin to a 42-39 win over Michigan State in the first Big Ten Championship game last December. He also set school records for passing efficiency (191.8) and touchdown passes in a season with 33.

Heading into his third game as a pro, Wilson doesn’t appear ready to challenge any NFL records. Statistics suggest he’s easing into his role.

Seattle is one of six teams that runs more often than it passes. Its run-to-pass percentage (55.6) leads the league.

Wilson hasn’t been called on to put up big numbers. He passed for 153 yards in a 20-16, season-opening loss to the Cardinals. He threw for 151 yards a week later in downing Dallas 27-7.

He hasn’t hit on anything long, either. In 54 attempts, he’s had just two completions of more than 20 yards: 27 yards to tight Zach Miller in Week 1 and a 22-yard TD strike to tight end Anthony McCoy against the Cowboys. Wilson’s average gain per completion (9.2 yards) is the lowest among the 33 quarterbacks with enough throws to be ranked.

To his credit, Wilson has been careful with the ball. His only interception came on a Hail Mary at the end of the first half in Arizona. His last 43 attempts have avoided enemy hands.

Last season, the Packers gave up 29 passing touchdowns, a total eclipsed by only the Vikings (34), Bills (30) and Buccaneers (30). In Seattle, Green Bay has an opportunity to distance itself from that avalanche and return to 2010 levels when it gave up the fourth fewest TD passes (16) in the league.

Regular-season series

Overall: Green Bay leads 8-5.

At CenturyLink Field: Tied 1-1.

Starting quarterbacks

Packers: Aaron Rodgers (42-22 overall; 2-0 vs. Seattle).

Seahawks: Russell Wilson (1-1; 0-0 vs. Green Bay).

Once a Seahawk, now a Packer

Offensive lineman Evan Dietrich-Smith (2010).

Once a Packer, now a Seahawk

Quarterback Matt Flynn (2008-11), punter Jon Ryan (2006-07) and tackle Breno Giacomini (2008) are former Packers. Tight end Evan Moore signed with Green Bay as a nondrafted free agent in 2008 and spent that season with the Packers on injured reserve. Allen Barbre (2007-09) is on the Seahawks’ reserve/suspended by commissioner list.

Eric Goska is a Press-Gazette correspondent, a Packers historian and the author of “Green Bay Packers: A Measure of Greatness,” a statistical history of the Packers. Email him at aegoska@sbcglobal.net.

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