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By the time this NFL season starts, Leon Washington will be 30 years old. Luckily for us, and for him, he’s not getting the lion’s share of the carries.
I don’t think you want to focus solely on Leon’s age, because the most carries he has had in a season was his rookie year when he had 151 for the Jets back in 2006. After that, he’s been exclusively the change-of-pace back he’s supposed to be. And has thrived (broken leg in 2009 notwithstanding).
There is a lot to like about this Seahawks team, as I’ve mentioned before. The defense is young and on the rise, the offensive line is coached by the best in the game (and is also on the young side), the wide receivers – if healthy – should be productive enough, we have a bona fide Top 10 running back in Marshawn Lynch … and, if you look more closely, we have a lot of role players who complement this team perfectly.
If these Seahawks had a Top 5 quarterback, these Seahawks would be picked across the board to contend for a Super Bowl. Teams don’t get that kind of recognition with just a Top 5 quarterback alone (see: the San Diego Chargers); you need a lot of the smaller parts to come together.
Leon Washington is one of those parts. Without him, there would be a Leon Washington-sized hole on this team that I’m not sure could be filled by just anyone else on this roster.
He’s the consummate 3rd Down Back. He might not have the flash of Darren Sproles, but then again, this isn’t the type of offense that would feature a Darren Sproles in such a way as the Saints do. What Leon does is more subtle. He blocks well. He catches the ball well. He runs well in that he doesn’t really screw around when he has the ball in his hands. He catches the ball, he runs forward. That’s the kind of savvy that Justin Forsett lacked. Forsett tried to bust out his Barry Sanders moves whenever he was met in the backfield by a defender. Forsett was no Sanders, and now he’s not a Seahawk.
Granted, Leon didn’t catch a TON of balls last year – only 10 for 48 yards – but I wouldn’t focus on that too much. For half the season, this offensive line couldn’t block a tumbleweed, so I imagine Leon was forced to assist in that regard rather than roll out for a swing pass. Leon was also playing behind a quarterback who doesn’t throw the ball well laterally. A guy who refused to check down in lieu of holding the ball for too long & taking the sack. Tarvar is as big a reason as any that Leon didn’t get the kind of production you would expect. Tarvar, by the grace of God, won’t be our starting quarterback this season. Flynn will check down when something isn’t open. Leon will be the primary beneficiary.
And, let us not forget, Leon was our primary return man the past two seasons. Last year, Leon was tied for 7th in the NFL in punt return average with 11.3, and tied for 10th in the NFL in kickoff return average with 25.2. I would continue to expect more of the same, even if Pete Carroll tries to work in other guys for those jobs. When you’ve got a proven veteran like Leon Washington, he’s always going to get the bulk of returns, because he’s going to give you the most effective return every time. Not bad for a guy pushing 30.
There aren’t many veterans on this team. Be glad Leon Washington is here. Takin’ ‘er easy for all us sinners.