The importance of Chris Carson & a lead runner in Seattle

November 17th, 2020 | Written by Rob Staton

Several teams are getting getting a lot out of their running backs this year.

Arizona, Baltimore and New England lead the team rushing statistics in terms of YPG. However, their numbers are boosted by the impact of a running quarterback.

The next four teams on the list — Cleveland, Minnesota, Tennessee and Las Vegas — lean on star-studded running backs to provide a spark.

Where would the 6-3 Browns be without Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt? The entire offense is structured around the pair. Minnesota are experiencing a mid-season revival thanks to the brilliance of their skill position players — in particular Dalvin Cook. Ryan Tannehill has been terrific since taking over as the Titans quarterback but nobody can deny the importance of Derrick Henry in Tennessee. Meanwhile Derek Carr is having a strong season for the Raiders but we can clearly see how much he’s aided by Josh Jacobs.

Great players matter, even at running back.

Anyone who follows football closely would acknowledge there’s a hierarchy of positional importance. Quarterback, left tackle, pass rusher. We all know the most important positions when you’re building a team.

Those positions deserve to be prioritised early in the draft and when a less important position is taken instead — such as a running back — criticism is rarely unfair.

That said, when a GM such as Dave Gettleman takes Saquon Barkley with the #2 pick he does so because he believes, rightly or wrongly, he’s acquiring a special player. Someone who can elevate his team and be a figurehead, even at a position that is less important.

Nobody is taking Barkley in that spot because ‘we’ve got to get a runner’. You’re taking him because you believe the talent is special enough to warrant that decision — and presumably Gettleman wasn’t convinced by Sam Darnold, Josh Allen or Josh Rosen (with hindsight, that’s at least understandable). Gettleman gets his fair share of criticism — some of it justified — but it was long reported the player he badly wanted at quarterback was Justin Herbert (and that he was prepared to wait on drafting a QB as a consequence). Herbert’s decision not to declare in 2019 meant the Giants had to pivot and reach (arguably) for Daniel Jones. Again, we can debate the merits of the idea but Barkley + potentially Herbert wasn’t a bad plan.

While virtually everyone accepts the running back position isn’t of first-tier level importance — we’ve clearly seen teams feel it’s worth investing in. Look at all the big contracts dished out to Christian McCaffrey, Alvin Kamara, Joe Mixon, Ezekiel Elliott, Derrick Henry and Dalvin Cook. We also saw teams invest in the position early in the draft this year — including the Super Bowl champions Kansas City, the LA Rams, Detroit, Green Bay and Indianapolis.

You can always find runners later on, of course. James Robinson in Jacksonville, an UDFA rookie, is currently the fifth leading rusher in the NFL. The four players in front of him though include a first round pick and three second round picks.

Statistically the top five receivers currently are Stefon Diggs (fifth rounder), DeAndre Hopkins (first rounder), DK Metcalf (second rounder), Terry McLaurin (third rounder) and Robby Anderson (UDFA). Davante Adams was the #53 pick in 2014.

J.C. Jackson, an UDFA, leads the league in interceptions. Blake Martinez, a fourth rounder, leads the NFL in tackles. David Bakhtiari, another fourth rounder, just signed a deal to become the highest paid offensive tackle in history.

The top five quarterbacks in terms of yardage include a third rounder and a sixth rounder. I’ll let you guess their names.

Talent is acquired at all positions at every level. The key is to find it.

A special player, even at a lesser position, can still do so much for your team.

We should know better than any other fan base what is possible. Marshawn Lynch was irreplaceable in the formative years of the Pete Carroll era. There’s no way the Seahawks reach the pinnacle without Lynch. He dominated games on the field, dictated how opponents played the Seahawks, defined the culture and connected with the LOB defense.

He was the catalyst for the team coming together.

Go back and watch the Super Bowl victory against Denver and how the Broncos defense sold out trying to stop Marshawn. It’s immensely beneficial when you have a player who dictates game plans. If you have a running back and a quarterback you need to account for — you’ll win a lot of games.

In 2014 I wrote the following about Lynch:

Replacing Lynch will be the toughest thing this franchise has to do in the post-Super Bowl era. You could argue running backs are easy to plug into an offense. How else can you describe 29-year-old Justin Forsett posting 5.4 yards-per-carry in Baltimore as the fourth most productive runner in the NFL? I think for most teams it’s a valid point. But not for Seattle. Not with Lynch.

He is so integral to this teams identity. He is a phenom, a truly unique runner that deserves to be remembered as fondly as any other running back since the turn of the century. His physical style, ability to break tackles, his attitude on the field. These are not easily replaced by just plugging in another player. The moment Seattle loses ‘Beast Mode’ the team will also lose a part of its identity. There’s no getting away from that.

When Lynch departed, the Seahawks predictably suffered. They struggled to find a replacement. They tried plugging in Christine Michael, C.J. Prosise and Eddie Lacy. Thomas Rawls offered a fleeting flourish before disappearing.

By 2017 the running game had totally collapsed and it contributed towards the Seahawks missing the playoffs for the only time in Russell Wilson’s NFL career. Here’s what I wrote in reaction to a loss during that 2017 season:

Lynch and Wilson used to share responsibility for the offense. Now it’s all on the quarterback.

He was brought in to be the star point guard, not a one-man LeBron James show.

The idea of a Seattle running back getting over 100 yards in a game is currently unfathomable. It’d be a major surprise if it happened. A 100-yard rusher? What a luxury. We used to take something like that for granted.

It’s something they don’t have now and they miss the comfort and stability that Lynch brought to the offense. He grounded them. If he wasn’t getting the ball, it felt necessary to get him involved. What draws Seattle back to the running game now? The opportunity to see which of Lacy, Rawls or McKissic can struggle for a short gain? It’s too tempting to turn to Wilson instead.

Yesterday is a good example of the difference between the two versions of the Seahawks. In 2014 you imagine they would’ve come out in the second half featuring Lynch. In 2017 they practically abandoned the running backs and put the game on Russell Wilson, trying to chase the big play.

They badly need some balance and some help for the quarterback.

The situation isn’t quite as dramatic as that today. Russell Wilson has grown into an even better player than he was three years ago. He’s already shown he can carry this team to wins — even if he’s folded under that weight of expectation in the last two weeks. You would never actively desire to take the ball out of his hands — it’s more a case of further supporting him and providing Wilson with another dynamic skill player for the arsenal.

I think there’s something to be said for reading through those words from 2017 though.

“They practically abandoned the running backs and put the game on Russell Wilson, trying to chase the big play.”

That’s what we’re seeing now. The Seahawks don’t trust their cobbled together combo of Alex Collins, Deejay Dallas and Travis Homer to lead the rushing attack. There’s no pressure to focus the running game — either from the offensive coordinator or the quarterback. Both Brian Schottenheimer and Russell Wilson probably think, rightly, this is all on #3 — regardless of the situation the Seahawks find themselves in.

Paired with the ugly defensive performances, Wilson is chasing the big play far too often. He’s trying to make things happen that aren’t there. At his best, he protects the football better than any QB in the league. In the three losses this year, he’s looked like the worst version of Jay Cutler.

We’ve never seen Wilson like this. There are seven regular season games left and he’s already on the brink of setting a career record for interceptions.

So much of it is down to the rank bad defense piling pressure on the offense to score +30 a game. Even when they don’t need +30 — it’s difficult to shake the feeling when that’s what you’ve been seeing week after week.

It also feels, somewhat, like Wilson’s shaky form has coincided with the absence of Seattle’s top two running backs — including RB1.

Chris Carson is by far the best running back Seattle has had since Lynch. While he lacks the culture-building connecting qualities that were exclusive and unique to Marshawn, he carries some of the physicality and skill and he helps bring needed balance to the offense.

‘Balance’ sometimes gets construed as an ugly word by the anti-run crowd. I’d argue the Seahawks were well balanced early in the season when Wilson looked set to streak away with the MVP award. He was the focal point but the run complemented what he was doing. Carson is also suitably talented that he was an asset on hot routes and as a receiver in general.

Seattle’s offense just doesn’t look the same without Carson. We saw that at the end of last season too. The Seahawks — and Wilson — are simply better with a really good running back. That was the case with Lynch and now it’s the situation with Carson.

He’s as important as D.K. Metcalf and Tyler Lockett. They are a fantastic trio.

His inability to get back on the field, especially in a vital contract year, has to be concerning.

Carson’s inability to stay healthy isn’t just a short term concern either. We’ve seen, again, how the offense is impacted when he isn’t there. They can’t afford to pay him mega money with his injury record. Yet they can’t really afford to lose him either when his contract expires in a few months. They can’t bank on Rashaad Penny leading the way along with Dallas or Homer as a #2. That won’t cut it.

It creates a dilemma for the off-season. The Seahawks practically have to risk losing him to allow him to set his market. Then, due to the injuries, they might get him back at a reasonable price. Alternatively, they could lose him and find themselves in a bind.

The other option is to pay him early — but unless he’s feeling particularly reasonable, that will be tricky and/or expensive.

The situation could’ve been aided if they’d tapped into a strong running back class early in the draft this year. I understand why they didn’t — a section of the fan base would’ve gone apoplectic if they’d used a second high pick in three years on a runner. Yet the insurance a Clyde Edwards-Helaire or D’Andre Swift could’ve provided (the top two runners drafted) would’ve been valuable. Imagine either of those two starting right now, at a fraction of the salary Carlos Hyde is on. The Seahawks would also be in a much better position next year in terms of negotiating with Carson, knowing they had a talented fall back if he departs.

I’m not sure drafting another linebacker instead was better value. The Jordyn Brooks pick is just as much of a luxury. At the end of the day, making life as easy as possible for Russell Wilson is of vital importance. More so than setting the table for life beyond K.J. Wright.

The late first and second round has turned into a good draft range for running backs. With the positional value decreasing, good players tend to last into that range. Edwards-Helaire and Swift are perfect examples this year. In previous years we’ve seen Chubb, Henry, Cook, Ronald Jones and Miles Sanders go in that range too. For a team that does place value on the position, it’s frustrating that the one time they tapped into it in the top-50, they came away with Rashaad Penny (who has had injuries and only flashed in spurts).

Again, there would’ve been uproar had the Seahawks spent another high pick on a runner. I’m not sure many would be complaining if one of the names listed in the previous paragraph were filling the void left by Carson currently.

One way or another, they’re probably going to have to find a way to keep Carson. Otherwise they run the risk of trying to avoid a repeat of the Eddie Lacy fiasco.

If we didn’t appreciate it fully before — the 2020 season has shown this team needs a lead runner.

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138 Responses to “The importance of Chris Carson & a lead runner in Seattle”

  1. Rob Staton says:

    FYI — I wrote this article with the letter ‘T’ detached from my laptop keyboard.

    Which was most unpleasant.

    It’s going in for a fix (hopefully) tomorrow.

  2. JLemere says:

    With Carson, in the end, it is going to come down to cost. I think FO will offer something like 4 yr 32 million with the first-year cap hit being around 4 to 5 million. If Carson is asking for 10+million a year, I think FO will be looking for another RB.

    • TJ says:

      His talent would justify a large contract. His lack of durability is going to cost him millions.

      • Jordan E says:

        Its a fair deal. He’s a baller but he cannot be trusted as a franchise caliber RB to build around. He has a lengthy injury history and has been hurt consistently every year.

        Im still a fan of signing a RB early or maybe even pursuing a guy like Lev’eon Bell this offseason (or both). A consistent RB who is a baller as a runner and as a receiving threat would be perfect for this team. Jonathan Taylor was a guy who was getting a lot of buzz earlier. Imagine if we were able to get a guy like that in the draft.

  3. Bmseattle says:

    While we’ve collectively been struggling to understand how a defensive minded coach like Pete can end up with an historically bad defense, the same wonderment can be directed at the RB group and running game in general.

    How did we get to a point where we (again) have no RBs we can rely upon, and are forced to put it all on Russ’s shoulders?

    There are two things that Pete wants out of his team more than anything else… a running game you can lean on if needed, and a solid, tough defense.
    Currently, we are so far from having either of these things, it would be laughable, if it wasn’t so concerning.

    On a related note, that was mentioned in the above article, regarding Russ’s tendency to look for the big play…
    It seems like that is a problem that *should* be fixable.
    Just look at our first drive vs The Rams as a good example. Good tempo, short dropbacks, quick passes.
    It works for us.
    But it seems that something clicks in Russ’s head at times, and rather than take the easy completion, he holds the ball, and wants the big play.

    Granted, it works at times, and I’d never want Russ to completely give up on that big play mentality.
    But he seems to get stuck in a rut at times, where that is all he wants to do.
    That ends up leading to bad throws, bad sacks, and too many QB hits.

  4. Ryan Purcell says:

    I’d also love to see a few “read option” plays per game. I think it helps get Russ into the flow. Penny coming back should help if he’s anything like what he was rounding into. Brooks is flashing a little here and there. I’m not sure why you’re down on him. KJ is just too slow!

  5. pdway says:

    I was thinking about this a lot too — the RW-led hawks offense has almost always struggled when the running game isn’t working – and I think it’s the biggest issue that’s led to this recent dip as well.

    It’s true that you can find hidden gem RB’s anywhere in the draft – but the key is talent level – and you can just see w your eyes the drop-off when it’s Dallas/Homer getting the ball. It changes everything. Fully agree w your statement that Carson is every bit as important as DK or Lockett to this offense.

    I guess the CEH pick would look smart now, but I don’t fault them – it’s why they drafted Penny, and it would feel early to bail on that pick. I thought it at the time, and still believe, that they view Brooks as Bobby’s successor – Bobby can still play, but the performance vs. salary equation no longer makes sense.

    From what I’ve seen of Hyde, he’s fine, but much better suited for the RB2 role. Suddenly our season hinges on one guy’s foot …..

    • cha says:

      No, he’s not fine.

      Hyde was supposed to be Carson/Penny insurance. A way for the Hawks to keep some offensive continuity when Carson inevitably had to miss games and when (as has come true) Penny’s rehab takes longer than a sunny forecast said it would.

      But he’s only played in 4 of the 9 games so far. 31 carries. $2.75m. That’s a disaster.

      • pdway says:

        i was talking about from a going back and looking at the team’s decision-making, and what i’ve observed of Hyde’s abilities.

        I don’t blame front office for injuries, don’t think that’s really fair, at least not when the player in question has been pretty durable the past several seasons.

        • cha says:

          I don’t either. But the context of the article is how badly the Seahawks are missing Carson and Hyde has simply not replaced Carson in even a placeholder capacity.

          And we can’t blame them for the injuries but the $2.75m salary? Oh yeah that’s not a great use of resources.

          • Elmer says:

            Hyde clearly isn’t an effective injury replace the. Not sure that they have that guy on their roster. They have to keep Carson or risk being in deep guano. Higher priority than.for example, Griffin. Even though CB is a crying need.

  6. cha says:

    The situation could’ve been aided if they’d tapped into a strong running back class early in the draft this year. I understand why they didn’t — a section of the fan base would’ve gone apoplectic if they’d used a second high pick in three years on a runner.

    I desperately hope that’s not the reason they didn’t select a runner.

    It could have been easily justified with Penny’s current injury status (by the way, remember all those people saying he’d be back in time for the season because he posted a :20 clip of him running in the spring?) and Carson’s impending FA.

    If the fans go crazy on that one, let them. That’s not legitimate noise.

    A section of the fanbase is going apoplectic about their pass rush, and that IS legitimate noise.

    • Bmseattle says:

      Yes, it’s difficult to imagine that they didn’t draft a RB with their first pick, out of fear of negative fan reaction.
      Did they think the fans would instead be happy with a LB who they’ve never heard of, who doesn’t have an immediate role with the team?

      If anything, the Seahawks seem defiantly contrarian with their high draft picks. Another RB would have fit in with that mentality perfectly.

      • Big Mike says:

        “Contrarian” or just stupid? Remember, Cowherd just mentioned yesterday he’s had 2 GMs of teams with “loaded rosters” (translation: GMs that now how to draft) tell him they have “no idea” what Seattle is doing on draft day. I do though. They still busy trying to (prove they can) outsmart the rest of the NFL. They’re failing.

        • TJ says:

          Agree! It seems that their hubris is now getting the better of them.

        • Bmseattle says:

          i agree, it’s becoming more, and more apparent that whatever strategy the Seahawks employ on draft day, it isn’t getting the results they envision.

          The weird thing is… if they really think they are “smarter than the room” or have some sort of special formula for identifying talent that trumps what other team’s think… you’d think that would be best utilized late in the draft, finding diamonds in the rough.

          No need to overdraft these players in rounds 1 and 2.
          How many times have we heard that other teams value our picks, one, two, or even three rounds later than when we pick them?
          of course, there is always the mysterious leaked info that reassures us that some other team (often the Patriots, cuz, you know… they’re so smart), that would have drafted that player with the next pick.
          It’s so comical.

        • Easy Answers Hard Choices says:

          Bingo. Their arrogance makes me want to puke.

  7. Gohawks5151 says:

    It’s not easy to shake a teams identity in one offseason. They need Carson and I believe that they would pay him a Mixson contract is he was more reliable. Sadly he hasn’t been. The RB position has been maddening and snake bitten for years. Penny had a clean bill of health through college and I remember that even being called out with Procise and Carson injury woes. Now, he can’t stay on the field either. Penny was starting to come into his own last year and I think you feel at least OK about letting Carson leave if Penny could stay healthy. One might even argue that he fits a 1 back set a little better. The worst part is they can’t even offset each other’s injuries and always seem hurt together.

    Maybe you offer him a 1 year deal at like 6M to let him have another go driving up his price with a full, healthy season and reassess next year when you know how the future cap will go. Otherwise I think you got to let him test the market and give you a chance to match/counter.

  8. Hoggs41 says:

    There is no doubt they miss Carson right now. He could even be a team 1A MVP. You for sure saw it in the years after Lynch and even the last few weeks at the end of the season last year. Personally I think they will let him test free agency to set his market. I think he also has more value for us then he might for another team. Im guessing $8m a year maybe? Either way he will be an important part for us the rest of the way. I also agree with balance. People sometimes thinks that means 50-50 but it doesnt need to be. Balance can just be the defense not knowing what type of play might be coming.

    • Johnryseafan says:

      Having a feared running attack is almost more important than having a good one. Chris Carson is feared because his style, not unlike Lynch, can humiliate an opponent. It challenges the pride of opposing defenses and more importantly their defensive coaches. When opponents have to game plan against a brute it’s like a poke in the chest. So they spend the first four days of the preparation week scheming ways to stop the run. Their ego’s are challenged. It’s why Carroll always says out loud (or at least infers)…”if you let us run, we’re going to make you look bad”. Once the opposition obsesses and exhausts all efforts to thwart this challenge that could render them eunuchs, it’s already Friday. Then they turn to their focus on stopping this upstart Wilson guy and those other guys….oh yeah….Metcalf and Lockett. I would love to be a fly on the wall of any teams first defensive planning session when facing a healthy Seahawks offense. I promise you, the fear would be palpable.

  9. Chase says:

    Has there been any word on penny?

  10. Jim N says:

    Have been asking myself why the Hawks can’t seem to keep a running back healthy. THink back the last 2 years, and the dozen that has come through the system. All seem to get hurt. Not just some….all. Is it just fate? Or are we using them wrong? It seems like the Hawks haven’t even been upfront with themselves about the health of our existing stable. Even if Carson returns, all bets are off he will be remotely healthy for any playoff run, if any. I wish i could just understand this better as Cook continues to run week after week after week…..

    • Ryan says:

      Cook went down in our game against the Vikings and was one of the reasons we won that one. I think most injuries come down to luck. It’s a violent business.

      • pdway says:

        mccaffrey hurt, saquon hurt, chubb missed most of the year, ekeler too . . . RB’s get injured. It’s one reason why huge contracts are risky.

  11. JJ says:

    Takk failed physical. Will not be joining Bengals. Does he go back on waivers or is he free?

    • cha says:

      “It smells like our love for each other”

    • TomLPDX says:

      Russ definitely has other things besides football on his mind.

    • Gohawks5151 says:

      It’s stuff like this that makes me think he is stretching himself too thin. All this side stuff and a new podcast all on top of an NFL schedule. Also the dude has a 3 month old kid. Speaking personally, a new kid hurt my productivity at work for a bit. Also being on this blog all the time….

    • CaptainJack says:

      It’s incredible how unlikeable Russ can be at times

    • Sea Mode says:

      I’m not even gonna look and I’m feeling the cringe.

    • dcd2 says:

      While stuff like this absolutely makes me cringe, he’s also doing a lot of good in the community.

      One of my client’s sons has been trying to get a charter school for underprivileged kids off the ground for awhile. Getting the funding and requisite 100 kids committed had been a huge obstacle for them for almost 2 years. Enter Russ and his foundation, and both problems were solved.

      https://whynotyoufdn.org/why-not-you-academy

      Just want to point out a noble pursuit that will do a lot of good for kids that wouldn’t have normally had access to this kind of educational experience.

      • Rob Staton says:

        Sure, I think everyone will acknowledge he does a tremendous amount of good.

        But it’s still ok to point out when he’s doing cringey, god awful shite too.

        • dcd2 says:

          No argument there. So much of what he does (Mr. Unlimited, Fragrance of Love, etc.) are really cringey.

          Just wanted to also share a good story that hits close to home, and hasn’t gotten much publicity.

          • GoHawksDani says:

            I know Russ is a solid dude…and I might be cynical…BUT I don’t think he’s as good as he shows himself to be. I think it’s 60% honest, 40% publicity stunt.
            It helps kids, and do good stuff so at the end it doesn’t matter, but as for Russ’ personality I don’t buy it fully. Feels like he builds his “good guy brand”.
            AGAIN not saying he’s a bad person. But he shows himself as this over the top saint who’s only job on Earth to do good, while I think he wants to do good, market himself well, and make a lot of fame and money. He’s just not on the same level as Paul Allen was…not even on the Bill Gates level.

            • Rob Staton says:

              Russell Wilson is a brand.

              He’s a PR machine.

              Everything is calculated.

              He’s not alone in that. Brady is the same.

              But it is what it is. You could go for a beer with Pat Mahomes and it’d be like you’re with one of the guys. Russell is different. He sees himself as an A list celebrity. He does a tremendous amount of good and there’s no need for us to be cynical about that. But he is who he is.

  12. TomLPDX says:

    Really good article, Rob, glad you put it out there. We do need Chris to balance this team in a way that the opposing defense has to plan for him too. Doesn’t mean a 50-50 split, just the threat of it. And he is really good on hot reads out of the backfield.

    I thought Hyde was a good pickup at the time and still think it was the right thing to do at the time, a little pricey but not outrageously so. Problem is that he is down when Chris is down so we don’t get that zig-zag effect when one goes down and the other steps up. I’m also a fan of Penny. His history coming out of school was as a solid RB with minimal injury history. Unfortunately, the NFL is a league of stars and RBs get hurt, it happens

    I believe Chris will want at least 10-12M if he can get it and I know JS won’t pay him that, especially with his injury history. If we could get him for 8M it would be a good get.

  13. Hawks_Gui says:

    Pierre Desir was waived by the jets

  14. L80 says:

    Unrelated, but whenever I hear this I get melancholy thinking about APaul Allen and how much I miss him since he personally picked this.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1lyu1KKwC74

  15. cha says:

    Watch Points for Cardinals Game

    6-3. Here we are. The season is rapidly inclining in a downward direction for the Seahawks, and they have to rebound from two very demoralizing losses and put together a win against a rising Arizona team. A loss here may send them into a tailspin. A win would give them a serious confidence boost and could point the way to a home stretch dogfight for a good playoff position. How can they do it?

    Win the turnover battle.
    First and foremost. The offense can’t turn the ball over in this game if they want to have any chance of winning. They’ve had an awful 10 turnovers in their last 4 games, and that includes a game vs SF with zero. The Cardinals have 5 in their last 3 games, so they’re not rock solid in this area. Kyler Murray had an INT and 2 fumbles in the last game vs. the Hawks. Defense, you have 1 turnover forced the last two games. It’s no coincidence they were losses. Forcing a couple turnovers (particularly in the first half) would be a massive win and a confidence booster for the entire team, and it is within your grasp.

    Find some offensive rhythm.
    The Hawks shouldn’t reel back their deep passing game. They just need to supplement it with steady, decent play in the other phases of the offense (oh, is that all?). Find a running game. They need some short passes to get the ball in their playmakers’ hands, some screens to get the RBs in the flow, and for crying out loud, USE YOUR TIGHT ENDS. It’s hard to believe that the Hawks spent so much money on them in the offseason, consistently had 4 TEs active on game day, and PC has so strongly and loudly preached offensive balance and yet can’t seem to get the TEs fully integrated into the game plan (9 games, 3 TDs, 29 First Downs).

    RW is having a real mental struggle with bad decisions. You don’t have to change the entire playbook, just give him a handful of plays where he doesn’t have to do something miraculous or the whole game is completely sunk.

    Here’s the good news: the Cardinals defense still can’t cover the whole field and is prone to giving up big plays. Since they played the Seahawks, in two games they’ve given up explosive runs to 5 different runners and explosive passes to 9 different receivers. The offense will have their chances. One of their strengths has been balancing being smart and aggressive. Find it again, no matter how deep you have to dig. The season may depend on it.

    Jamal Adams, put up or shut up.
    Listen, the Seahawks paid an absolute fortune in trade and the return so far has been wanting. They could have traded for Stefon Diggs, Calais Campbell and Yannick Ngakoue for what they gave up to upgrade over Bradley McDougald at SS and still had more draft capital left over. I don’t care if that’s an unfair assessment. I don’t care if he’s hurt. I don’t care if the Seahawks made a desperately stupid decision. That’s not the point. Now’s the time to have a game. PC specifically mentioned Kyler Murray when acquiring Adams. He missed the first Cardinals game. It’s time to do the job he’s been brought here to do. Justified or not, the optics of the Rams’ RB sailing by Adams untouched on the TD run Sunday are terrible. Time to make it up to the team and replace that visual with a game-changing play or two.

    Get creative when defending Kyler.
    His numbers in the last game were nightmarish. 360 yards passing, 67 yards rushing. 3 passing TDs, 1 rushing TD. 0 sacks. Unacceptable. Find a way guys. Something to slow Murray down just a tick.

    -Rush with 4 and double Hopkins.
    -Bring the house once a series.
    -Disguise Adams better.
    -Line up Wagner, Reed, Dunlap and Robinson in a NASCAR package, and have Shaquem in as a spy behind them and use his speed to clean up the second level like you did vs Dallas.
    -Show Murray an overloaded side and force him to concede half the field.
    -Rush 3 and flood coverage in the red zone and don’t let Murray dance into the end zone untouched.

    Make tackles.
    The Seahawks 12 missed tackles the last time they met. The DL/LB corps had 7 of those missed tackles. Jarran Reed got a hand on Murray in the end zone and couldn’t bring him down. Wagner blitzed and got a hand on him with the same result. Imagine those 2 plays going the other way, and how much they would have affected the outcome of the game. It was their worst game of the season for MT’s except for the Minnesota game where they recorded an eye-popping 18 MT.

    Admittedly it can be a tricky stat. They only recorded 6 MT vs Buffalo and I think we can all agree that wasn’t a defensive masterpiece (can’t record a MT if you’re 15 yards off the ball and the WR concedes without being touched! Wooo!). But with Kyler Murray, Kenyan Drake, Christian Kirk and Chase Edmonds, the Seahawks are facing some elusive and tough runners. Get your man on the ground. But let’s be straight, it’s all about getting Murray down. The first man to touch him HAS to bring him down if they are to succeed in slowing this offense down.

    • Uncle Bob says:

      And to add to you “offensive rhythm” comments, especially the “use the TEs”, we’re back to the need for Carson, or moreso what Carson does well without the injury lapses. He knows how to hit a hole. His relief group seems more likely to run up the back of an O lineman instead (I’m looking at you Homer). Vance Joseph saw something in RWs play that caused him to dial up the pressure in the second half of the AZ game and that’s when Russ started to crumble. Since then the Bills and Rams followed suit and Russ is going to set negative personal records as well as having killed his tenuous MVP attempt. On a short week there’s no reason to believe that AZ won’t pick up where they left off in the other game, pressure, pressure, pressure. In addition to the TE options, where the hell are the draw plays to counter those pincer rushes? I’d say they are on the side line with Carson. Argh!!!

      • pdway says:

        “Vance Joseph saw something in RWs play that caused him to dial up the pressure in the second half of the AZ game and that’s when Russ started to crumble”

        This is exactly right – feels like that’s when teams figured out what to do. If Schottenheimer isn’t figuring out counters to this strategy – then he doesn’t merit the job. Because we know it’s coming.

    • Uncle Bob says:

      And I hate “silly records”. Some broadcaster the past couple days was saying “RW has never lost three games in a row” so don’t worry about the Cardinals Thursday night. Okay fine……………………………………..

      • Malc from PO says:

        Yuck. This has been the year when all those “records” have fallen (4 point HT lead = win, always win when opponent has 300 yards passing etc.), so if anything the 3 in a row is ripe to go down too. I tend to think we’ll lose on Thursday, and it wouldn’t surprise me if we see a fairly pedestrian effort, especially if there is any doubt about injured players. Continue to rest and live through the next easy part of the schedule. The mentality drives me crazy, but I think that’s kind of where the Seahawks are right now, and have been for a couple of years. Rely on beating bad teams to get to your 11-5, lose against anyone half decent, and hope you can somehow come up with a miracle in the playoffs.

    • Gohawks5151 says:

      I’d add get DK going early. This goes hand in hand with the Russ stuff. Can’t have a repeat of the first game vs Peterson and last week only compounds it. Quick screens. Isolation slant. If Peterson if off, quick hitch.

      Also, be ready for the blitz from Arizona. Have the screen/draws ready. Roll outs too. TEs should be a focus

    • SeattleLifer says:

      Don’t fall into a hole, score early and at the very least keep pace until Russ can win it in the waning moments.

  16. Trevor says:

    On a completely unrelated note I think the Giants made a great hire in Joe Judge. What he is doing with that roster particularly on defense is amazing. The Billicheck coaching tree has had some duds but Judge and Brian Flores look like legit head coaches with young rebuilding rosters.

    • Rob Staton says:

      Agreed. The Giants appear well coached and the Dolphins are absolutely flying.

      Very promising for NYG and Miami.

      • Uncle Bob says:

        Yet Seahawk fans and home town writers/broadcasters keep saying silly things like “easy games ahead” that include NYG. Apparently they aren’t seeing what we in this comment see. Big Mike sounded that warning a couple weeks ago, and he is correct.

        • Rob Staton says:

          Giants will be a tough opponents for sure.

        • Trevor says:

          I think if the Hawks take the L on Thursday there is a very good chance they will miss the playoffs.

          • BobbyK says:

            I know we shouldn’t ever get too high after a win or too low after a loss so I am going to say this beforehand:

            This game Thursday will make or break the season, imo. If they win, I think they can still do some special things yet this year. That being said, it won’t matter if they get too banged up. But if they get the W and can stay relatively healthy… there’s a chance.

            If they lose Thursday, they will be 1-4 in their last 5 games and will have lost every time they played a decent team. The Dolphins weren’t a decent team yet when we faced them like they are now. It would really suck to end up giving the Jets a top-15 pick this year but it’s a real possibility if they can’t pull this out in two days.

        • Big Mike says:

          Thanks for remembering Uncle Bob.
          Judge and Flores apparently are the real deal. Looks like Daniel Jones is slowly but surely ‘getting it’. The good news is they have to travel across the country to play the Hawks. None the less, I’ve been saying for a while it was going to be a close one and I’ll stand by that.

  17. Sea Mode says:

    The real issues we face in 2020. #puntingissues

    Tom Pelissero
    @TomPelissero
    ·12m

    With punting issues around the NFL, one name to keep in mind: Jon Ryan. The longtime #Seahawks punter is 38, but he led the CFL in gross average last season, has been working out in San Diego under the watch of former NFL kicker John Carney and has drawn interest recently.

  18. line_hawk says:

    The article is spot on. However, the bigger question is why do Carroll’s RBs suck? Its unfathomable that they haven’t found one good RB (except Carson) in the last 5 years when Shanahan (and many others) make very UDFA RB look like a star. Even if they select CEH or Swift, I strongly believe they would be either injured by now or be asked to play physical football (Tell me which RB out of the 2nd round would fit the physical style that Carroll wants). I would argue the same with Penny; he has talent but he is not going to plow through a defense. The lack of creativity with the running game is as bad as the lack of creativity with the defensive scheme.

  19. Sea Mode says:

    Short-yardage back?

    Tom Pelissero
    @TomPelissero
    ·15m

    Former #Dolphins RB Jordan Howard cleared waivers, per the transaction wire. He’s a free agent.

  20. BobbyK says:

    I won’t change my opinion in hindsight because that’s wrong and hypocritical but I still believe we needed Jonathan Taylor with our first pick last spring. He was my guy but I really liked Clyde and Dobbins as well.

    I said last spring Carson is an injury prone machine and we needed a young stud to pair with him because we knew this was going to be a wasted year with Penny and his ACL. Then if the young stud was good, we’d have three more years of him at minimal cost (and one more year of a healthy Penny) after Carson got paid to play in 11 games per year with someone else. The all-important RB position for Wilson would have been solved. Now we’re stuck with a clown show of a worthless $5 million backup in Carlos Hyde and a 4th round RB who can’t even start over a guy on the street a couple weeks ago. I’d rather have drafted Taylor in the first round and then taken a KJ Wright replacement in the 4th round. I think we’d (still) be better served having done that.

    • Henry Taylor says:

      Taylor has been utterly useless so far and that’s running behind Q Nelson and the Colts OL. I liked him too and would have been fine with them drafting him or another RB at the time.

      But based on what I’ve seen so far, if it was between JT and Brooks, I’ll take Brooks.

      • BobbyK says:

        I’d take Taylor’s best game over Brooks’ best game so far (26 carries for over 100 yards – seems that’s something this team could use). I agree that he’s not the beast (so far) I thought he’d be but I’d still rather have him moving forward.

    • SeattleLifer says:

      Insert another layer of difficulty and reckoning for Pete and John : They have been so proud of their player friendly culture and how attractive it can be to free agents. Well that gets flushed down the commode when the ship is sinking, player moral is heading south and the winning starts to fade.

      • Submanjoe says:

        Seahawks are a place veterans like to come to to collect a few more paychecks in a friendly culture. After years in a place like the Jets or Bengals or Detroit or WFT etc. good for the player, that’s about all.

    • dcd2 says:

      Didn’t need him. He didn’t fit our culture like Antonio Brown would have. Plus, we are set at corner.

      Now, if you see a LB or TE with a gritty back-story, I’m interested.

    • Pran says:

      It sure feels like we are not a destination for FA. Most of them are rejecting Seahawks and going with other real contenders.

    • Scot04 says:

      But I’m sure the Seahawks were competing for him right up until the end.

    • Jordan E says:

      LOL. And yesterday I heard some Seattle media saying we dont need this trouble maker… reminds me of AB miss again.

      Whatever happened to always compete?? This is another statement to why the Chiefs are a step ahead of the Hawks.

  21. SeattleLifer says:

    The Carson off-season situation is the trickiest one the front office will be facing (Adams could still be put off another year at least). It’s undeniable that Carson is an injury prone running back in general, even when he’s starting he’s usually carrying the title of ‘banged up’. I know it’s not unusual for the position but I think it’s fair to say he is more injury prone than the average RB.

    So seeing he misses so much time (and thusly causes our offense difficulty so often…) there is no way the team should pay him significant salary on an extended contract. It would just be unwise. The problem is though is Carson is indeed a RB and as such said position has a short shelf life to earn money in the nfl as a general rule. So RB’s are heavily incentivized to get every single penny they can on any post rookie contract. One could easily argue that Carson being so injury prone would be even more driven to make what money he can as early as he can because it’s certainly plausible his career could be shorter than many other RB’s and at the least his injuries could hamper his earning abilities the more years he plays and the more time he misses on the field.

    So on one side the Hawks should use real fiscal caution in any contract talks with him and yet on Carson’s side he (and I’m sure his agent) will be pushing for and moving onto whichever suitor off the most in garunteed money and/or long term stability.

    IMO unless he is (foolishly) willing to sign a team friendly contract with some injury protections then it very well could mean we say good bye to him. The only saving grace might be the reduced salary cap next offseason. I just really hope he doesn’t come back and stay healthy for like 4 games and then late this season we get news of a big contract extension because for me he’s just too darn unreliable and factoring in paying a big contract as well then I believe the difficult yet wise decision is to move on even if it means risking a bit of a drop off at the position. Get a free agent/trade for a guy who has proven he can stay healthy even if he isn’t quite the player Carson is when he’s on the field.

    • BobbyK says:

      I think Carson will remain in Seattle next year because if you were the GM of another team – would you give him big money to come in and miss a quarter of the season every year? When you miss time every year for the last 8 years running, you know it’s not just “bad luck.” You’re injury prone and that has to hamper your ability to make big money on the open market.

      • SeattleLifer says:

        I look at it as there’s always another team out there that is either desperate enough, foolish enough or just has the money to burn to take a gamble on over paying a guy like Carson that does bring some real talent and intensity onto the field.

  22. CaptainJack says:

    Seahawks missing the playoffs would be the best thing for this team, especially after a 5-0 start. Because if we get in the playoffs we aren’t going far anyways

    • BobbyK says:

      In the old days the only saving grace was the comfort in knowing you get a better pick in the first round if you lose too much. We have nothing now. The loss will suck and knowing the Jets get that better pick sucks, too. All because Jamal Adams was supposedly so good. And because they were too stupid to fix the pass rush properly in the off-season that they were desperate to do something and got fleeced by an organization that is a laughing stock to everyone else.

  23. Rob Staton says:

    The podcast is now live — at the top of the article or via my YouTube channel.

  24. CaptainJack says:

    Interesting comment from Kurt Zumdieck under a fieldgulls article:

    “Ok lets talk about why Russell has not got any MVP votes. Because of what that last interception showed and has been true since RW came into the league – he cant throw the out ball. A basic throw all PRO QB’s must make is a ten-yard out ball, and when you cant do it (see Tom Brady’s last ball with the Patriots) you give up pick sixes. You also hamstring your offense because now the field gets narrower and good CB’s can sit on routes.

    Remember back a few years when Russ was struggling and made all those TO’s, Bevell was asking RW to throw balls to the perimeter and he couldn’t do it. His baseball wind-up or his laser focus on his receiver, whatever combo it is, he can’t seem to make that throw and it KILLS offenses.

    RW bailed himself out with his legs and had some receivers around him who were good at working out-of-system, a fancy term for just-go-out backyard football, but I know that it killed good route runners like Doug Baldwin who could run good precise routes, that when Doug faked the DB inside and popped open on the sideline, the ball should have been there already.

    RW still does not throw guys open, unless it is these go routes, then these balls he throws look like arcing punts, jump balls in reality. DK came along and was able to take the top off defenses, but it still a low percentage throw and teams have been keeping an extra safety back to protect against it. They have film on RW and he hasn’t made any adjustments. That’s on Schotty too. They were laying back ten yards on DK and RW could have audibled out to that play, but they dont do that wide receiver screen to DK.

    RW is really a product of play-action. Stats from the past years has him as one of the top QB’s out of play-action. Especially on third down. Now stats have him as one of the worst on 3rd downs. Hawks need to go back to P-A, but that means they have to run more on early downs to set that up.

    On top of that, this Let Russ cook bullshit has to stop because it has gone to his head. He talked in his press conference how he is great and will be great again. Right now he is a limited QB who is the picture of overconfidence.”

    • Rob Staton says:

      I think that’s a fantastic breakdown. Some home truths there.

      • Bmseattle says:

        I agree… some really great points there.
        Most of Russ’s interceptions *are* on the out routes and flat routes… and Russ does tend to stare down receivers and his windup/release is slow.
        He is what he is, at this point. He’s never going to be a guy who “throws receivers open”.

        For all the talk about how accurate he is throwing the deep ball, a lot of the credit goes to his receivers for locating and adjusting to Russ’s moon shots, in flight.
        Lockett is incredible at that, and doesn’t get enough credit for how good he is at adjusting to the ball in-flight and making the throw look “accurate”.

    • pdway says:

      random fact – – went to high school w a kurt zumdieck, got to be the same guy . . .

    • GoHawksDani says:

      RW is a special player, he does amazing things….BUT he won’t be throwing quick slants to the middle and the out route well it seems. He has physical limitations and that’s a hard fact. He’s strong mentally, and can make magic happen…BUT he will lose some of that magic as he gets older. He was extremely durable but he might lose that too to some extent. He’s probably around his top value right now. He’s a franchise QB and a top5 QB in the league. Maybe even top3, or even the best.
      If the Hawks must go into rebuild mode, Russ will only give them 4-5 wins (that’s on him), if the rest of the team cannot win 5-7 games (to finish with 10-12 wins), or go to the SB should we keep him? Is this could be a 1-2 year rebuild or maybe a 3-5 year one? If the team would trade him (RW could lift the no-trade clause) how much could we get for him?
      What compensation would it take for you guys to trade him?

    • Malc from PO says:

      That’s a great share – thank you. Russ with the deep ball is so good when he can use it judiciously and we can present that balanced attack. When he is bombing it out every time he throws the ball like against the Rams it becomes predicatble and obvious and the defense can beat it. If we can’t put out a decent running attack then they have to use the short pass, screen, etc. to provide that variety.

  25. Rob Staton says:

    https://twitter.com/bcondotta/status/1328825899102322688/photo/1

    I’d prefer a bit more urgency than… ‘we’re 6-3 not 3-6’

    • Bmseattle says:

      I’d prefer more urgency from Bobby every Sunday.
      I hate thinking this, cuz I’ve always loved the guy, and it seemed like a safe bet to extend him. But it feels like yet another example of why you never give third contracts to guys… even superstars.

      • BobbyK says:

        If ever there was a non-QB I thought you could pay and not have to worry about rapidly declining play, it was Bobby Wagner. I was wrong.

        Think he’d have more “urgency” if someone asked him, “How does it feel to be the heartbeat of a defense that may go down in NFL history as the worst ever?”

        From MLB on the Legion of Boom to MLB on the biggest joke of a defense ever. That will actually hurt his legacy a bit, imo. And it probably should if he doesn’t feel the urgency he should.

    • Scot04 says:

      This is why guys like Sherman were so important to have on the team. Wagner definitely sound like the Russell Wilson version of the Defense.

  26. Mark Dickinson says:

    This is going to be a tough game this Thursday but then All division game are tough. Looking at this division in the NFC, it is the toughest. Before the year I gave the 3 home games to our rivals and i gave us the home games to us for a 3-6. Because of the scheduled I had us going 9-1. Here I sit with 6-3 record and I’m still on track to a 12-4.
    The question this game is who will be back from injuries. Offense is Chris Carson and Pocic and defense its Griffin and Mayowa. We have Dunlap and with Mayowa rotating we can not over use Mayowa like we did early in the season. Sit Dunbar and let him heal and use Flowers and Griffin in cover 1. Get back to the basics for the secondary. I like Ugo Amadi he shined 2 plays in a row. He has a certain energy boast to the defense. We have a chance as long as we can hold on to the ball. We need to get healthy, stay healthy, and then play together to win.

  27. cha says:

    Good: Hyde a full participant in practice today, Carson a limit participant

    Bad: Pocic & Fuller did not practice, neither did Lockett or Griffin

  28. Justaguy says:

    Apologies if this has been mentioned already. I would like to know predictions on how Snacks Harrison will show out. Will he be a run stuffer that might be able to free up a mediocre pass rush? Or something greater than non factor? Just grasping at straws

  29. Henry Taylor says:

    Im just watching the pod, dont know how I didmt think of it before, pod name suggestion:

    Seahawks Robcast.

  30. Rob Staton says:

    The Brock & Salk podcast this week… absolutely brilliant.

    Didn’t shirk any topics.

    Discussed everything.

    No punches pulled.

    Simply put, the best Seahawks analysis around.

    Listen to it:

    https://sports.mynorthwest.com/category/podcast_player/?a=0cf7dabf-cce0-470e-9a22-ac760185714a&sid=1007&n=Brock+and+Salk+Podcast

  31. Martin says:

    Dear Seahawks players and coaches,

    Put up or shut up.

  32. GoHawksDani says:

    This team is trapped. Badly.
    Do they give CC a new deal? A big one? Or even a medium one?
    If they get lucky and can sign Carson to like 3 years 7m APY can we be truly happy with the RB position? What if Carson gets hurt next year? Can we count on Penny?
    They have 2 injury prone RBs as the RB1 and 2. This is not sustainable.
    I love Chris, probably the best athlete after DK on the team. And I think if we just watch games where he’s healthy and didn’t have fumble issues he might look better than Lynch. But he has just too many issues. Even if we’d re-sign him, I’d need another durable RB who can run inside. Penny, Homer, Dallas are outside runners mainly. They can be arm tackled, and this is not an OL which will open big gaps.

    Imagine drafting Chubb instead of Penny…I was high on Chubb, he was my favorit for the Hawks that year. Physical runner, good body, good balance, good speed. They wanted to copy the Saints imo. Carson == Ingram (I know he’s not with them anymore), Penny == Kamara. But the Hawks are not an outside running team.

    What would happen if they wouldn’t re-sign Carson? They would need an RB1/2 to play with Penny. They have limited cash so FA could be tricky. They have limited draft stock so draft could be tricky. And are you willing to gamble on a R4-R7 guy? Or are you sacrifice your only R2 pick?

    Hawks put themselves in a lose-lose situation…again

  33. Rushless pass says:

    I have a question about the culture of the Seahawks. When you watch that Jamal Adams forced fumble against the Rams, nobody else is celebrating with him and you see that on a lot of play where it’s just one guy celebrating a good play. Is that a failure of the culture? Is it that this team has kind of been spirit broken?

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