Aside from digging into the various news stories, I’ve largely neglected talking about the Seahawks by design: 2017 was a bitter pill to swallow. After such a sustained stretch of brilliance, this team was a slog to cover last year; but, they’ve jettisoned a lot of aging veterans, brought in fresh blood throughout the organization, and I would argue there’s some reasons to be optimistic (even though my default prediction is that this team will win anywhere from 7-9 games; everything would have to go perfectly in our favor to get to 10 wins or more, and when does THAT ever happen?).
So, with precious few weeks remaining until the pre-season games kick things off, I’ve got a quickie series of posts where I’ll look at the 7 areas of this team as they’re set up right now:
- Passing Game (QB / WR / TE / RB)
- Running Game (RB / QB)
- Blocking Game (OL / TE)
- Special Teams (K / P / Coverage Units / Return Game)
- Pass Rush (DE / LB)
- Run Defense (DT / DE / LB)
- Pass Defense (DB / LB)
Without further ado, let’s talk about the Seahawks’ running game.
As I got into yesterday, I’m pretty stoked on the running backs we’ve got in camp. And, as I got into yesterday, I don’t think any of them are on the level of Marshawn Lynch in his heyday, but I do think as a collective, this is the best group we’ve had in a very long time. Maybe ever!
I keep waffling on Rashaad Penny. I want to like him. I DESPERATELY want him to be great. I think with his speed and overall talents, he has the potential to be great. But, there are plenty of running backs with good speed and skills, but it takes a special, intangible something that separates the good backs from the elites. And, we won’t know if he has THAT until we see him in action.
I think it’s safe to say Penny is the player I’m most looking forward to seeing in the pre-season (and that’s saying something, now that we’ve got both Griffin brothers on defense). Everything hinges on returning the running game to dominance. This team had no running game whatsoever in 2017 and failed to make the playoffs as a result. If we continue to sputter, it’s going to be a LONG 2018.
The good thing is, if nothing else, I think Penny has a high floor. Also, with Chris Carson as his running mate, we shouldn’t see any sort of drop-off in ability or production. Of course, if BOTH of those guys get injured, I don’t know what to tell you. At that point, I’d have to legitimately believe in the realness of curses and start investing in crucifixes or something.
Behind them, from strictly a rushing perspective (i.e. not pass-catching), we have Mike Davis, then C.J. Prosise, then J.D. McKissic. Davis is just a guy, a competent all-around running back who is never going to wow you and is never going to be a bona fide starter in this league. He’s nice insurance to have, if indeed the injury bug keeps on biting this team, but he’s not essential to keep on the 53-man roster. With everyone being healthy, even if you did roster him into the regular season, I can’t imagine he’d be active very often, if at all. He also strikes me as a guy you’d be able to pick up off the waiver wire in the event of an emergency. I mean, what teams out there are clamoring for the services of Mike Davis?
The real #3 running back battle falls to Prosise vs. McKissic, as I talked about yesterday, and it boils down to whether or not Prosise can stay healthy. If healthy, I think the team looks to keep Prosise, because all things being even, I think he’s the better all-around running back over McKissic. I think both are valuable pass-catching backs, but I think Prosise has the edge in the running game. Of course, durability is the key, and for that reason alone I believe McKissic will make the team; but if you’re counting on McKissic to be your every-down back, something has gone seriously wrong.
So, I’m just going to cross my fingers and hope our top two guys stay healthy. I’d really like to see how an honest running back battle shakes out, as I feel like both Penny and Carson could push each other to remarkable heights.
As for the fullback position, I have no opinion. Outside of the blocking game, can you get a yard on 4th & 1 with a dive up the middle? That’s all I care about. Hell, I don’t think the Seahawks even HAD a true fullback last year, so it can’t be that important.
I give this position an A-.
Can’t talk about the running game without talking about Russell Wilson. He led the team last year with 586 rushing yards and 3 touchdowns. Outside of 2016 – where he was injured from game 1 – his season low in rushing has been 489 yards, which when you pair it with a competent attack from the running backs, makes for a nice chunk of change.
However, when you have what we had last year, defenses only had to focus on shutting down the passing game and containing Wilson in the pocket. It speaks to his greatness that he was still able to run for 586 when the Seahawks had literally no other threats on the team, when the O-Line was as wretched as it was, and when every defense focused solely on keeping him contained rather than attacking him like normal pocket passers.
When you compare him to other duel-threat quarterbacks who are actually quality passers, Wilson is probably in the Top 2 with Cam Newton. From purely a rushing perspective, you’d give the nod to Newton, but I’d still rather have Wilson if for no other reason than he doesn’t take all the savage hits that Newton endures. At some point, it’s going to catch up to Cam, and he’s going to hit the IR sooner or later. Wilson does an excellent job of getting what he needs to get and then getting out of harm’s way. Give me that all day.
A+ for Wilson!
Of course, it feels incomplete talking about the running game (OR the passing game, for that matter) without talking about the offensive line. I’ll get into that tomorrow. The first two posts in this series are strictly a reflection of the talent among the skill position groups. With an A+ offensive line, I think the Seahawks would have one of the most potent offenses in all of football. As you’ll read about next time, I absolutely do not think the Seahawks have an A+ offensive line.
But, I also don’t think it’ll be as bad as everyone expects.