A frustrating loss at St. Louis in Week 4 sent Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll in search of ways to make his offense more productive.
Russell Wilson and the Seahawks' offense had scored more than 20 points just once in four games and were converting just 28 percent of third down opportunities for the season. Against the Rams, Seattle was just 2 of 9 in third down conversions and 0 for 5 when attempting to pass in those situations. Wilson and the passing offense had not been able to throw for more than 160 yards in a game and his three interceptions were costly in the 19-13 loss to the Rams.
Following the game, Carroll decided to look at tape of the Washington Redskins and how they were using rookie Robert Griffin III.
What Carroll saw was an offense suited perfectly to the abilities of Griffin. The Redskins and offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan had installed a large grouping of plays from the zone-read offense Griffin had been familiar with at Baylor University. It gave the Redskins the opportunity to maximize the abilities of Griffin and create favorable situations for their offense.
"They're way ahead of everybody else in terms of their commitment to a really college style of offense and it's been very effective," Carroll said.
Griffin earned NFC player of the week honors in the first start of his NFL career and threw for 300-plus yards in two of his first four games as a pro.
"I was impressed with how much they got out of it," Carroll said.
Seattle has used more zone-read concepts in recent weeks to augment their traditional zone running scheme. It has given Wilson the opportunity to keep the ball and run and for the Seahawks to use play-action to take shots down the field.
"It gives guys space to let them make some decisions and get free," Wilson said. "It's just a change-up really more than anything."
The changes have helped Seattle improve their production on third down and in the red zone as Seattle has scored touchdowns on six of the last eight red zone possessions the last two weeks.
"There's some things we've taken, some things that we haven't," offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell said. "(Griffin) and Russell are two different style quarterbacks as well. Not saying that they both can't do the same things but there's some things that he can do that we wouldn't ask Russell to do and there's probably things that we ask Russell to do that they wouldn't ask him to do."
The zone-read offense is not something the Seahawks are going to go to extensively — Seattle still prides itself on being a power running team — but in limited doses it has given Seattle an added dimension offensively.
"It just opens you up to the possibility of some things to do," Carroll said. "It was a good move for me and it's helped us a little bit. I was influenced a little bit more than I thought when I first looked at. You see some of our stuff coming to life and it's helping us."
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