The Seattle Seahawks have 11 running backs currently on the active roster. While most of these running backs will not make it to the active squad, it was still important that Seattle added a proven veteran to the running back corps. They did just that during free agency to help propel the team back into a power running style of play.
With Christine Michael gone and Thomas Rawls struggling with injuries, it made sense for the Seahawks to sign Eddie Lacy from the Green Bay Packers. Yes, Seattle had an opportunity to sign other running backs, but Lacy is the safe option that has 4 years under his belt and a limited amount of carries.
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The running back position in the NFL has a limited lifespan, averaging about eight years or 2,000 carries. The closer that a running back gets to these two milestones, the player usually slows down, become injured faster, and their play deteriorates.
For example, Shaun Alexander, a Seahawks legend, had a great run in 2005 where he ran for 27 touchdowns and almost 2,000 yards. After that season, Alexander saw a decline in his play. This was due to an increase in injuries and trying to limit running between blocks in the ISO formation to limit injuries.
Eventually his yards per carry dropped from 5.1 in 2005 to an average of 3.1 for his final three seasons. This compares to options available to the Seahawks this offseason.
Jamaal Charles has not played a complete season since 2012. Within that time, he has managed only three seasons with over 1,000 yards rushing. He also has only averaged 807 yards per season in his career. He is coming back from a torn ACL that he suffered in 2015 and surgery to fix the issue again in 2016.
This injury has limited him to play in only eight games the last two seasons. He has accrued only 404 total rushing yards in those seasons.
The risk of the tendon tearing or giving when Charles plants his leg limits his ability to be explosive. Eventually signing with the Broncos, do not be surprised to see him as a third down back behind C.J. Anderson.
Adrian Peterson is in a similar situation with injuries and loss of playing time. He has struggled to finish multiple campaigns recently due to injury. He is currently coming back from a torn meniscus in his right knee that he suffered in Week 2 of 2016.
Peterson decided to have a full repair of the meniscus, but it can affect how he plays in the future. Also, it was only five years ago that he tore both his MCL and ACL in his left knee. Yes, he did have a stellar season the next, as he came 9 yards shy of breaking the single season rushing yard record. But as Peterson continues to age, his touches will reduce with the Saints before he retires.
This leaves LeGarrette Blount and Lacy as the two best choices for Seattle. Since entering the NFL in 2010, Blount has only seen three seasons where he played in all 16 games in a single season and only two seasons where he had 1,000 or more rushing yards. Unfortunately, those two stats do not coincide. His average rushing yards per season is 731 and a dismal average of 52.1 yards per game.
Carroll’s system prides itself on relying heavily on the running game. This allows the team to open up the playbook for the play action pass. Even in a system with three other running backs in New England, Blount could not find a role to be as dominant as he could have been. This caused him to lose carries to James White. Therefore Lacy is the prime candidate for Seattle.
Eddie Lacy is entering his fifth season with 788 carries and an average of 4.4 yards per carry. While he has the same average yards as Blount, Lacy also has 380 fewer touches. Lacy has 55 more catches and 563 more receiving yards than Blount. Lacy has also coughed up the ball fewer times, allowing the Seahawks to keep trekking down the field.
The Seahawks are concerned about his weight and have added weight incentives to his contract. But consider Jerome “The Bus” Bettis. Bettis was 251 pounds and was charging through players on his way to a, highly questionable, Super Bowl 40 ring.
He proved that weight does not matter as long as you know how to use your feet, you can cover the ball, and you have the strength to continue trucking and break tackles. Lacy will try to use this style of running to succeed in Seattle.
The 2017 season cannot come soon enough for Seahawks fans. They want to see what kind of a team the Seahawks are and if they are Super Bowl bound. But remember, running back is a pivotal position for the Seahawks offense.
Even if the Seahawks decide to use Lacy as a backup, Seattle will not lose quality at the running back position. This will further cement their run for another (refusing to say it and jinx the season). The NFC West is Seattle’s division to lose. Lacy will help make sure that does not happen.