Mailbag: Forsett's role in Seahawks' offense
September, 26, 2009
By Mike Sando | ESPN.com
Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando
Espe from Seattle writes: Hi, I was reading your blog and came across the seattlepi.com article calling for Justin Forsett and I really have to agree with it. Julius Jones has 27 carries for 128 yards, but those numbers are a little skewed thanks to the 62 yard run against the Rams. Without that run, he has 26 carries for 66 yards a very poor 2.53 yards per carry. He also isn't that much of a threat in the passing game, having five receptions for only 17 yards.
On the other hand, Justin Forsett has eight carries for 52 yards, six catchs for 57 yards and they use him a lot on third down because he is a very good in pass protection. People say he doesn't have the speed, but I dont think he needs the speed because he himself says he has great acceleration and with the blocking scheme, I think he is a more suited back than Julius Jones.
Mike Sando: Long runs do count and the Seahawks should know this better than most after watching Frank Gore bust 79- and 80-yard runs. Jones gets credit for that 62-yard run. Otherwise it's unfair to count Forsett's longer runs late in a game his team trailed by double digits. Jones is also very good in protection.
I think it's way too early to make a decision on the starting running back. Seattle has suffered quite a few changes up front. Jones hasn't had much of a chance to get going. It's also different carrying the ball on early downs in a close game. Forsett has never touched the ball with fewer than three wide receivers on the field. He has not run the ball in the base offense, in other words.
Six of Forsett's eight carries were on third down. He has touched the ball four times in the first halves of games. Forsett has shown enough, in my view, to start getting some carries earlier in games and as part of the base offense. But to suddenly install him as the starter would undermine Jones prematurely while rewarding a player who might not be ready or even suited for such an expanded role.
Ty from Kennewick, Wash., writes: Sandbags, first of all, I love the blog -- keep up the good work! After (1) reading Rams GM Billy Devaney's rebuttal to Mark Schlereth's comments regarding the state of the team and their competitiveness and (2) thinking back to Week 1 when Spags made it clear it was his sideline by stepping in between Samkon Gado and Jordan Babineaux after a tackle near the St. Louis coah, my question is this: What are your thoughts of the attitude/persona the team's leadership is implementing?
I'm a Seahawks fan, but I can't help but admire the way this new staff seems to be establishing a no-nonsense, somewhat in-your-face approach. We always hear about leadership starting from the top down and I have to say I'm impressed with the benchmark the FO and coaching staff has set. I was just interested in your thoughts and how you see this translating onto the field.
Mike Sando: Steve Spagnuolo seems to have the right temperament and approach. It's clear from watching the Rams that he is also very involved in the defensive scheming. I thought that would be important. No matter how good Spagnuolo might be as a leader, the Rams hired him also because he showed he could coach defense. The Rams unveiled a dozen new blitzes -- ones Spagnuolo had never shown previously -- against Seattle in the opener. They were not always effective, but the Rams did keep Matt Hasselbeck off-balance early.
Billy Devaney's record as general manager will hinge on the draft choices to a large degree. James Laurinaitis looks like a good one. Donnie Avery looked like a good one last season, but not so far this season. Jason Smith will need time. I think Rams fans should be cautiously optimistic. Spagnuolo has established a standard. The players have bought in.
See also: Schlereth's clarification.
Chris from Phoenix writes: First off, love your coverage man. Gret job! In anticiapation of the Cardinals-Colts matchup Sunday night, Ive been wondering if the Cardinals' secondary can hold up against Peyton Manning's air attack. We have talented corners with Bryant McFadden and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and, of course, Adrian Wilson and Antrel Rolle as safties, but it seems to me that they look shaky at times in coverage. And after watching Monday night's game, Peyton tore up Miami's secondary. Do you feel that the Cardinals' secondary can handle this aerial assault and how might they accomplish it?
Mike Sando: Thanks, Chris. The home crowd could be a big help for the Cardinals. I think they need Darnell Dockett and those guys to get off the ball quickly and disrupt Manning. I would not like the Cardinals' chances in Indianapolis. I am not sure their defense can be trusted to remain disciplined against such a skilled quarterback. But I do think Arizona's front seven can thrive in that environment and make Manning work at it.
Michael from Seattle writes: Good article and I have great respect for espn.com and yourself as well. But you have forgotten to also note is that the 49ers are under a different coaching regime and a they have completely different mentality as a football team. While their history has proven they can't play good ball in the early games, the team under Singletary is a complete unit, is focused and playing much better than their hisotry would dictate. I hope as a loyal 49ers fan they prove your article wrong. Much respect and have a great weekend.
Mike Sando: Thanks, Michael. I wasn't saying they cannot win in an early game. But I do think the history bears revisiting before they play the first of six early games this season. A 49ers victory would be good for the division as well.
Justin from Bend, Ore., writes: Sure seems like you are drinking the 49ers Kool-Aid! They are a one-dimensional team that teams will figure out how to stop soon enough. We will see what happens when they have to depend on Shaun Hill to make something happen.
Mike Sando: There is reason to question the 49ers' approach and whether they can score enough points against good teams. Hill did lead the winning drive at Arizona, though, and that is the evidence we have so far. As I like to say, results matter.
Harry from San Francisco writes: Hi Mike. I noticed that a lot is always made of bulletin-board material and how it is a great motivator for teams or players. Let's face it, these guys are professionals. They are paid a lot of money to play a game. Should they really need any motivation other than that? Should they need any additional motivation beyond wanting to win and go to the Super Bowl? As a fan and season-ticket holder, I don't want to hear how extra motivation is needed to perform your best. Your thoughts?
Mike Sando: Saying extra motivation helped does not necessarily mean the team would have come out flat or handled itself unprofessionally in the absence of the additional stimulus. The extra motivation should not be needed, but it is welcome. Most of us would have a better chance lifting something very heavy if someone we loved were trapped under it. That does not make us unprofessional. It makes us human.
Kyle from Tempe writes: An article was posted on 49ers.com regarding the 49ers ignoring the storylines behind the game but it seems that the storylines are so plentiful in this game it might be hard to. First off, Patrick Willis and Adrian Peterson are arguably the best people at their position, both came out in the same draft class and both were rookie of the year. Frank Gore vs. Adrian Peterson is another storyline. The two teams are also undefeated, and they have similar styles of play. Your thoughts? Is this game overhyped?
Mike Sando: You've got me even more fired up about boarding a plane Saturday and heading to Minneapolis. Those storylines are natural and not overrated going into the game. But if you've watched football long enough, you know the unexpected can happen. Another storyline could emerge. That makes the games more fun.
David from San Jose writes: Hey Mike, great blog. Would the 49ers consider trading for an upgrade at quaterback such as Marc Bulger? He most likely wouldn't cost much. I can't stand watching Shaun Hill short-circuit when the pressure gets too close. And for all the crud Alex Smith gets for his passes, Shaun ain't much better. To award him the job because he [struggled] a little less than Alex is garbage.
Mike Sando: Thanks, David. Messing with the quarterback position during a season is a high-risk gambit. The Rams would not trade their starting quarterback within the division during the season, so rule out that one. And the 49ers would be foolish making that sort of decision given how the team has won with Hill at quarterback.
Bill from Tacoma writes: There's been a lot of talk here about the Seahawks' injury situation, specifically the number of injuries. But I'm wondering if it just looks bad or if they really do have significantly more injuries than the league average. Obviously, it would seem to point to the training staff if there are indeed more injuries than 'normal' for two consecutive years. I know you love crunching numbers. Have you done an analysis of injuries across the league? If not, I would love to see you do one.
Mike Sando: I've looked at the injury reports for each team and noticed the Seahawks' list ran longer than the other teams' lists. And I did crunch the numbers on IR counts after last season. The Seahawks had 14 players on injured reserve when last season ended. Arizona had three. Seattle has again been hit hard by injuries. The easy conclusion would be to blame the training or conditioning staffs, but I would want to know what, if anything, one staff does differently from another staff. And that's tough to know.
Mark from Fremont, Calif., writes: Hey, Mike, I have just been wondering, with all the crazy amount of media that covers the NFL, why is it that we have barely heard anything from Michael Crabtree or agent Eugene Parker? A public statement? I understand staying low key, but wouldn't saying anything just be beneficial to both sides?
Mike Sando: Parker's style is to keep his mouth shut publicly. He cannot win a war of words with the 49ers because the 49ers are the ones being covered every day. Plus, he has nothing to gain by personalizing the dispute. By keeping quiet, he keeps it about business.
Benjamin from Glendale, Ariz., writes: Hey Sando, I'm addicted to the blog but have never written in. Just a quick comment. This year there seems to be a lot of focus on blackouts in some NFL markets. I had no clue before this year, just about every NFL team had no trouble getting blackouts lifted in their area, but now some are struggling. My focal point is, being a longtime Cardinals fan, blackouts were the norm from 1988 until University of Phoenix Stadium opened. Of course, the occasional Cowboys or Packers game at Sun Devil Stadium would not warrant a blackout, but otherwise, that's all there was. The crowd at the Jacksonville game brought back horrible memories of Sun Devil Stadium crowds past. It's just a new perspective for me, I suppose.
Mike Sando: Even the Cardinals in their new stadium have had to work to sell out home games so far. The economy down there has been horrible, as you probably know, and the cost of attending games has remained high.
DiLune from Seattle writes: Mike, let's play what-if. Rams at Detroit, game ends in a tie after OT. They both lose the rest of their games. Is the number 1 draft pick decided by a coin toss? Is this a huge event and how do you determine who calls it?
Mike Sando: They would go with strength of schedule, then divisional and conference records, followed by a coin toss. Someone other than Phil Luckett would flip the coin.