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Seahawks' weakness: Running back

6/9/2009

Posted by Scouts Inc.'s Matt Williamson

The Seattle Seahawks need to strengthen their ground game. New Seahawks head coach Jim Mora Jr. and offensive coordinator Greg Knapp had T.J. Duckett in their backfield when they all were Atlanta Falcons. Still, loyalty should go only so far.
Last season with the Seahawks, Duckett converted 26 of 62 carries into first downs. Duckett rushed for eight touchdowns, but on those 62 carries, he managed a measly 172 yards for an average of 2.8 yards per carry. Granted, in short-yardage situations, runners are not going to often break off long runs, but 2.8 yards per carry is dreadful. Duckett is extremely one-dimensional. He is just a big, strong guy who can get a needed yard. Nothing more, nothing less.

Over the past five seasons, Duckett has 15 receptions. He rarely makes tacklers miss. Plus, even though he has been a successful short-yardage runner, he runs without a great forward lean. For being such a supposed big bruiser, Duckett has shown little ability to carry the load. In 2008, he had one game with more than eight carries. In fact, he only eclipsed a pair of carries in eight of the 16 games he played in last season.

In 2009, it appears that Duckett is in line for more carries, but I really can't see why. Then again, Seattle just doesn't have many other enticing options to carry the rock. Maurice Morris factored in last season and overall, he was a good-enough complementary option. But in reality, that is what Julius Jones is as well. I will also contend that Morris had the better season.

Jones probably will get the bulk of the carries. While Duckett gets into the end zone with regularity, that is not something Jones does well.

Jones has a lifetime rushing average of 4.0 yards per carry. He is a decent receiver. His power is OK, as is his vision and elusiveness. In just about every way, he is exceedingly average.

When comparing him to the other top option runners around the league, he is flat out subpar. Jones isn't a bell cow runner who can carry the load and put Seattle's opponent away in a close game. He has been around the league now for some time and no longer has much upside to his game. Jones' tools are not bad, but they are only getting worse instead of better. He is what he is. And that isn't good enough.

Justin Forsett has shown signs of being able to stick at this level, but he clearly is not a No. 1 option. At best, he is a change of pace or specialty player.

Running backs are easy to come by. Of all the NFL positions, it could be the easiest one to find a suitable option. Seattle had a fine draft but did nothing to enhance this spot. It is certainly conceivable that they bring in a veteran off the street (Warrick Dunn, perhaps?) who has had success in this league, but right now we can only analyze who is on the roster. There isn't a No. 1 option to be found on this squad.

Seattle still is the team that I am picking to be the most improved in the league this season. If you are going to be weak at one spot, running back isn't such a terrible choice. The Seahawks could use many three-wide receiver, one-tight end sets and the onus of this offense should be placed on Matt Hasselbeck, not their core of runners.

Scouts Inc. watches games, breaks down film and studies football from all angles for ESPN.com.