Seahawks run defense must improve

RENTON, Wash. -- The Seahawks have allowed 405 yards rushing in their past two games, including at least 200 yards in each. A similar result this week would signal a major problem since the Atlanta Falcons are terrible at running the ball.

Atlanta is averaging 64.4 yards per game (dead last in the NFL) and only 3.5 yards per carry (28th in the league).

Former Oregon State running back Jacquizz Rodgers leads the team with 220 yards rushing on 67 carries, but it's only a 3.3-yard average per carry. Starting running back Steven Jackson missed four games with a hamstring injury, but is averaging only 3.7-yard per carry (140 yards on 38 carries).

So the Seattle run defense should have a chance to improve dramatically over the previous two games. However, St. Louis running back Zac Stacy rushed for 134 yards in the Rams game and Bucs running back Mike James rushed for 158 yards Sunday for Tampa Bay. Neither of those running backs strike fear in the hearts of opposing defenses.

But Seahawks coach Pete Carroll pointed out the run defense has been pretty good at times.

"Three weeks ago, we gave up 30 yards rushing [at Arizona] and then we jumped off the cliff here in the 200s," Carroll said. "So I think we'll get decidedly better. We're really tuned in. The players take a lot of pride in it, as well, and we all have to do better, from myself on down. So we are going to work really hard to get that done."

The Seahawks rank 19th overall against the run, giving up an average of 116.2 yards per game. But they are No. 2 against the pass at 179.8 yards per game. So teams are going to try to run on the Seahawks, even the Falcons, until Seattle proves it can stop them.

"We had 38 runs and 40 runs against us the last two weeks," Carroll said. "That's because it's available. They wouldn't run it that many times if we're playing it better."

On the other side of the running game, things were vastly improved for the Seahawks against the Bucs. After rushing for only 23 yards on eight carries at St. Louis, Marshawn Lynch rushed for 125 yards on 21 carries, including 44 yards on six carries in overtime. It was his 18th game with 100 yards or more since 2011, the most in the NFL.

It was a much-improved effort by the offensive line overall. After giving up seven sacks at St. Louis, Russell Wilson wasn't sacked Sunday, but he was hit five times.

"You could see it in practice last week, the sense of urgency and disappointment with what happened in St. Louis," Carroll said of the offensive linemen. "We basically ran the same plays. We just really executed much better."

The Seahawks also got rookie tackle Alvin Bailey in the game for one series, moving Paul McQuistan back to left guard and taking James Carpenter out of the game.

"We came out flying off of the football and were very disciplined and very aggressive. Marshawn took full advantage of it and so did [backup running back] Robert [Turbin]. They really hit the line of scrimmage in great fashion. I'm going to take that as a real encouraging sign."