Ok, so I think the less said about RB group, or the running game as a whole, the better. The Seahawks had a group without any established power-backs going into the season, which meant that they were moving onto a slightly different style than under the very successful Beastmode-era.
Let’s look at the RB, incl. FB, position 2016 where the Seahawks were looking to build on Rawls with support from Christine Michael (who has been in and out of the Seahawks establishment more than the cleaning lady, with less of an impact) and a series of rookies. This committee approach was due to run behind one of the youngest Offensive Lines. Recipe for disaster? Lets look at who got involved:
To build on: Rawls (who was coming off a season ending injury in his rookie season), Michael (yet to have breakout season was released during season)
Rookies: Prosise, Collins, Pope (went to the Jets then came back), Brooks (in and out and in and out, now with broncos) McKissic (who was claimed off waivers from the Falcons), Amosa (FB came and went).
Experienced Players: C.J. Spiller (came and went), Cameron Marshall (came and went), Terrence Magee, Marcel Reece (Free Agent)
Practice Squad: Kelvin Taylor, George Farmer, Malcom Johnson (FB)
Injured reserve: Tre Madden (rookie), Will Tukuafu (fullback. was going into his third consecutive season with the Seahawks – then released and brought back over the season before going on injured reserve – Free Agent)
Confused? Overload of people? Altogether you don’t need to understand the details to each individual player; this mess is exactly what paints the picture of this position group in 2016. Throw in longer injuries to Rawls and C.J. Prosise, as well as the fact that Russell Wilson was not able to make a running impact and the already mentioned issues with the OL and you are left with a running game as far removed from where the Seahawks want to be as possible. Oh yeh, I forgot to mention that the Seahawks released their leading rusher halfway through the season…
I made an exaggerated comment on Michael’s impact at the Seahawks earlier. Partially this is because I don’t feel he has ever lived up to his potential, but also partially because I don’t feel he is an RB1. He is not a powerful back who will pull your team along and batter defences into focussing on him, BUT he was the leading and most consistent back. And he got cut?! Not the most favourable decision.
Altogether the Seahawks had one of the worst Run Games in the whole league in 2016, so let’s look at the individual players going into 2017:
Thomas Rawls had a great rookie season, before he got injured. Had some good spells last season, when he wasn’t injured. I hope it is not a pattern and that he will be injured 2017 too. One thing to note about Rawls when he was coming off his injuries is that he was a little bit too impatient and hyperactive which got in the way of better performances. he simply wanted too much and wasn’t thinking clearly. But when he calms down a bit he can be electric. I think he will thrive 2017 behind a battering ram like Lacy. Rawls can cut at an incredible speed and if he manages to strengthen his double jump cuts in one direction to propel himself around the DLine, he can cause some serious damage. He also packs some power, great fight and great energy. If he can combine all of that and stay injury free then enemies of the ‘hawks beware.
C.J. Prosise was, unfortunately, also injured after making some big splashes in his rookie season this year. My favourite highlight was where he sent Malcom Butler flying to finish his run. Similar to Rawls’ rookie campaign in that they both showed great potential before getting injured, we will see how he comes back in 2017. I have heard that he has come back for training bigger than last year to make sure he withstands the rigours of NFL better. He is fast. Very fast. Not in the electric, full-body-tension way that Rawls is, but he is someone who can run out around the corner, get into the secondary and then beat the secondary. Add to that a great pair of hands and you have the perfect alignment with Rawls and Lacy to counterbalance the power game they bring.
Alex Collins a bit underrated in my opinion. Apparently he had a couple too many pounds in 2016, but I have heard that he has cut it down for 2017. His playing style is similar to Lacy in that he has a physical running style that can pound through the middle, but also use his hands well. He has around 20 Kilos less than the new guy from Green Bay and therefore falls into a similar category to Rawls, but I felt that he is not as electric and instead can power through more and while he can make good jump cuts he should try to read the inside a little more. He is strong at making people miss, especially when he gets some space in the secondary. I really like him and would like to see a bit more of him in 2017.
J.D. McKissic while being listed as a RB, he spent most of his time at college in the WR position and as a returner. Would be nice to see the Seahawks getting him involved as a backup to Prosise (although he doesn’t have the elite speed) and on the return game he might be able to take some pressure off Lockett (depending on how fit the WR is come the start of 2017). He has already shown that he can return, so why not give it a go?
Terrence Magee unfortunately I have to admit that I am not wholly convinced by him. At Highschool he was a mix between RB and QB, at LSU he was part of a committee approach that meant that he never had to fight too much or carry the load. To be honest I have not seen any convincing tape where he had to fight his way through strong Dlines. He was always in the Secondary pretty fast and, granted, there he was good with his speed. I think he will have some physical deficits and may take some more time to adjust to the NFL.
Practice Squad: Kelvin Taylor, George Farmer, Malcom Johnson (FB)
Injured Reserve: Tre Madden, Troymaine Pope
Free Agents: Marcel Reece (FB), Will Tukuafu (FB)
What to keep the same:
- bring back one of the more experienced fullbacks Reece or Tukuafu to keep together a solid group
- don’t add too much to the group in the offseason, try to get some consistency
- build on the individual qualities of the players
What to change:
- stay healthy! If everyone stays healthy and Lacy does well then they are in a great position
- produce more yards (last season they were around 500 behind the league average and around 800 where they should ideally be), create a more balanced O
- focus on the physical element of the game to alleviate the prime focus from the receivers
- better blocking
Draft and Free Agency needs: Experienced Fullback (either one of the two from last season or maybe if there is a decent one late in the draft). Running Back was an issue but has been well addressed with Lacy if he is fit and healthy.