Are big runs allowed a serious concern for Seahawks?

Seattle Seahawks v Tennessee Titans

RENTON -- Giving up big plays in the running game is not a normal occurrence for the Seahawks' defense. Neither is ranking at the bottom of the league in rushing defense.

However, both those statements hold true for Seattle through the first three weeks of the NFL season. The Seahawks defense has allowed runs of 75, 61, 27 and 25 yards over the last two games. Rishard Matthews' 55-yard touchdown on a wide receiver screen in an extended type of run play as well.

Allowing such explosive plays is not the norm for the Seahawks.

"It's very uncharacteristic of us," defensive end Cliff Avril said. "The biggest thing out of all of it is it's us, not them. It's things that can be corrected."

The big runs have skewed Seattle's total rush defense numbers heavily. They rank 30th in rushing yards per game allowed and are 32nd - dead last - in yards per rush allowed.

The Titans gashed Seattle for 195 rushing yards Sunday in Nashville. DeMarco Murray broke free for a 75-yard touchdowns run and Derrick Henry added a 25-yard run as well. Seattle had held the Titans to just 30 yards on 17 carries in the first half before allowed the few big runs after intermission.

The reasons can be fairly simple in retrospect. Three of the biggest runs allowed seemed to be due to a missed gap responsibility or a loss of containment on the edges. Carlos Hyde's 27-yard run in Week 2 for the 49ers was a draw play on third-and-12 that broke free when a tackle was missed and players got out of position in pursuit.

They aren't systemic issues the defensive side of the ball is facing. They aren't getting physically beat. They're aren't lacking in speed to get to where they need to be on the field. There's just been some plays where they haven't executed the way they typically do.

"Part of being disciplined is being able to do it all game long and not just three quarters or whatever the case may be. I think it's just discipline," Avril said.

Added safety Kam Chancellor: "It's stuff we can fix. It's self-inflicted problems. We can definitely fix it."

They've faced 82 rushing plays this season with a highest allowed rush of 75 yards and the lowest being a 5-yard loss by Derrick Henry. The median rush (the midpoint of all 82 rushes the Seahawks have faced this year) is just three yards. Significantly more often than not, Seattle is stopping opposing rushing games.

Is that any consolation for the Seahawks as they look to correct the issues they've had through three weeks?

"I think all of it is terrible but, yeah, I agree," said Avril regarding the fact they aren't allowing consistent yardage on the ground, just a few big plays. "It just shows you how disciplined you have to be in this game."

The Seahawks consider "explosive plays" any play which nets at least 12 yards in the rushing game and 16 yards in the passing game. Seattle has allowed six in total on the year. In addition to the four listed above, Aaron Rodgers gained 13 yards on a scramble in Week 1 and Matt Breida of the 49ers had a 13-yard carry in Week 2.

Seattle allowed just 17 explosive runs all of last season, so they are on pace to give up more big plays on the ground for the season as well. It is also just three games of sample size to digest.

"A lot of the plays, a lot of the yardages that we have this year came off of one or two plays each game," linebacker Bobby Wagner said. "To say that there's like this crisis, I don't think there's this crisis but we just have to clean up a few things.

"It's definitely fixable. I think it's things that we can easily adjust and it just comes with focus and execution, which I feel like we will do."


-- Safety Earl Thomas missed a second day of practice on Wednesday with a knee injury, but defensive coordinator Kris Richard said to expect Thomas to play against the Colts.

"Here is one thing I know about Earl," Richard said. "As long as he doesn’t have any broken bones and he can breathe, he can play. So yeah, right now, it’s not a concern. He is still preparing as if he is going to play and we fully expect him to."

-- Wide receiver Doug Baldwin (groin), running back C.J. Prosise (ankle) and cornerback Neiko Thorpe (ankle) missed practice again on Thursday. Thorpe missed last week's game against the Titans with his injury while Baldwin and Prosise were injured during the game. Defensive end Michael Bennett also got the day off to rest.

-- Tight end Jimmy Graham (ankle), left guard Luke Joeckel (knee), linebacker D.J. Alexander (hamstring) and cornerback Richard Sherman (Achilles) were all limited in practice on Thursday after sitting out practice on Wednesday. Graham, Joeckel and Sherman all played the entire game last week in Tennessee. Alexander was inactive due to his injury.

Defensive tackle Nazair Jones also appeared on the injury report on Thursday with a knee injury. He was limited as well.

Defensive end Frank Clark was a full participant. He had been limited on Wednesday with a hamstring injury.

Injury Report:

Photo Credit: NASHVILLE, TN - SEPTEMBER 24: Derrick Henry #22 of the Tennessee Titans rushes against the Seattle Seahawks during the second half at Nissan Stadium on September 24, 2017 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images)

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