Offensively, the biggest factor missing from the Seattle Seahawks' attack going into the postseason is a consistent run game.
Seattle found itself in unfamiliar territory during the regular season, ranking 23rd in rushing efficiency. In the first four years of QB Russell Wilson's career, the Seahawks never finished below seventh in that category.
Coach Pete Carroll has said repeatedly that Wilson's injuries have been the biggest factor in the struggles of the run game. The quarterback had a career low in rushing yards (259) this season and has not been the threat he usually is when the Seahawks use their zone-read runs.
The offensive line has struggled with run blocking all season long.
And the Seahawks have been unable to find a durable back who can give them consistent production in the post-Marshawn Lynch era. Seattle had 18 players notch at least one carry during the regular season.
The Seahawks can't do much about the first two factors. Wilson isn't going to suddenly get healthy, and the offensive line remains a question mark. But Carroll is hoping Thomas Rawls can find his footing after what has been a frustrating season for the running back.
"He had a really nasty injury. He comes back two weeks into the season and breaks his leg in a different place," Carroll said. "Different situation. It wasn’t the same injury at all. And he had to endure all of that again coming back. It couldn’t have been more disruptive for him. He had high hopes, he made a great recovery to get back, and then here he goes again. His resilience has been there. He’s ready to go."
Rawls ran 109 times for 349 yards during the regular season (3.20 yards per carry) and averaged 1.51 yards after contact. As a rookie in 2015, he led the NFL by averaging 5.65 yards per carry and 2.68 yards after contact.
From Weeks 12 to 14, the Seahawks piled up 503 yards on the ground and averaged 6.53 yards per carry as a team. They're hoping some of that production will return in Saturday's playoff game against a Detroit Lions team that ranks 23rd against the run.
Rookie Alex Collins will see some action, but Carroll has made it clear that Rawls will be the primary back.
"He’s been ready for about four or five weeks, and we can really see that he can turn it around and count on his legs and count on his quicks and all that kind of stuff," Carroll said. "We haven’t gotten him the ball as consistently as we would like, and any runner needs to get the football to start to get a feel for it.
"I hope, like I said last week -- I want him to get the ball 20 times this week. We’ll see what happens, we’ll see how the game goes. He’s been great about it, he’s been on point. He’s been tremendous in rehab through the process. Just to make it back physically is one, but mentally he made it back as well. We’re really proud of him."