Seahawks WR Baldwin looks to put receiving woes in the past
WATFORD, England — Doug Baldwin wants to catch a few more passes and play a more vital role in the Seattle Seahawks’ passing game.
As he sees it, the one reception he had in the loss to the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday just isn’t going to cut it.
Baldwin, Seattle’s leading receiver each of the past four years, should be able to return to his reliable ways in a favorable matchup against the Oakland Raiders this weekend at Wembley Stadium.
“I just look at it as another opportunity,” Baldwin said. “I’ve got to go out there and do my job and get open, and if the ball comes to me, it comes to me. That’s really what it comes down to. I’m not worried about it. I’ve got to focus on my job and do the best I can with the opportunities that I get.”
The Raiders (1-4) will statistically be the worst defense the Seahawks (2-3) will have faced so far, having allowed 8.35 yards per reception, the second-worst average in the NFL, and 277.2 passing yards per game, good for 23rd.
Baldwin had his lone catch on the Seahawks’ second play from scrimmage in the 33-31 loss to the Rams, marking only the second time since the end of the 2013 season the wide receiver had fewer than two receptions in a game.
It was Baldwin’s second game back after he sprained the medial collateral ligament in his right knee in the season-opening road loss to the Denver Broncos. Both he and coach Pete Carroll said earlier this week that the knee is healthy, removing the injury as an excuse.
The Seahawks have been trying to play more to their strengths, emphasizing their running game behind Chris Carson and Mike Davis. Carroll, though, insisted that despite the emergence of second-year wide receiver David Moore, Baldwin’s role has not changed.
“Because the ball didn’t get to him has nothing to do with anything,” Carroll said. “That’s not part of any evaluation at all on our side. Sometimes that happens. We only completed 13 passes last week in a real productive offensive day. Doug will be right in the middle of that. He’s one of our best players and he’s been a great performer for a long time. There’s nothing to change that thought at all.”
Quarterback Russell Wilson attempted only 21 passes against the Rams, the fewest he’s had in a game this season. The Seahawks could afford that, and hand the workload to the running backs, because they controlled the game for much of the first three quarters.
Several big gains also helped. Seattle had five plays of 30 or more yards against Los Angeles, two of which resulted in touchdowns — a 39-yard pass by Wilson to Tyler Lockett in the second quarter and a 30-yard catch by Moore in the third.
Baldwin, though, was conspicuously absent, with Wilson failing to throw to his longtime top target at any point after the third minute.
“Doug’s always phenomenal,” Wilson said. “He’s one of the best in the world to do it. He’s always been a superstar, so the more times he can get the football, the better. That’s a great thing for us.”
A two-time Pro Bowl selection — including last season, when he played in the game as an injury replacement — Baldwin’s omission isn’t the only issue the Seahawks have in the passing game.
They have not ranked among the bottom third of teams in total offense since Wilson was drafted in 2012, though they were among the six worst passing offenses in the league during the quarterback’s first three years.
They will enter the game against the Raiders ranked 27th in both categories, but after winning two of their last three games, and having a 100-yard rusher in each, Baldwin believes the offense is starting to take shape.
“(Running the ball) balances us pretty well,” Baldwin said. “It makes it easier on the quarterback and the receivers when there are eight in the box having to respect our run game. It’s going to open some things up in the passing game, and as we go along in the season, I think it’ll make a lot of things easier for us going forward.”