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Danny and Gallant: What Seahawks need to make a run-first offense work

Pete Carroll will be looking for Russell Wilson to hand off more in 2021. (Getty)

We know the Seahawks are going in a different direction on offense in 2021. The question is how they get there.

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Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll spoke Monday about the need for Seattle to get back to its roots as a team known for its running game, and a day later the team cut ties with offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer, citing “philosophical differences” for the change.

Following the news of Seattle parting ways with Schottenheimer, 710 ESPN Seattle’s Danny and Gallant took some time to discuss what they want to see from the Seahawks’ offense next season knowing that running the ball will be a top priority.

Let’s take a look at what Danny O’Neil and Paul Gallant each had to say.

Paul Gallant: Get the right No. 1 running back

Chris Carson had back-to-back seasons with over 1,000 rushing yards in 2018 and 2019, but he finished with 681 yards in 2020 as Seattle dialed back its emphasis on the run game. He’s also set to be a free agent, and it’s clear to Gallant that if the Seahawks are going to do what Carroll wants them to on offense, it will take bringing back Carson or paying up for another back on his level.

“If they’re going to take this run-first approach going forward, they need to have a running back. And that doesn’t mean you need to have the high-paid contract like Christian McCaffrey or Ezekiel Elliott, but it does mean that you need to have a guy who is better than most,” he said. “I don’t know that you’re going to be able to bring in somebody (to be offensive coordinator) like (49ers head coach) Kyle Shanahan, who can turn the likes of Raheem Mostert (into a No. 1 running back). … They just turn out running backs in that system.

“Let’s be honest, you’re not going to get that (kind of) guy (to be offensive coordinator). … You’re probably going to get a guy who sees eye to eye with Pete. Is a run-first approach going to work if your running back situation isn’t a good one? I don’t think it will, and I think that makes Chris Carson’s position right now quite a favorable one as far as him potentially getting money from the Seahawks.”

Danny’s reaction: “I would say that you need to bring back Chris Carson and,” O’Neil said, stopping at “and” to emphasize that he thinks Seattle needs to focus just as much on finding a strong No. 2 running back. “You need to add multiple guys. There’s nothing that you saw this year that would make you think that DeeJay Dallas or Travis Homer or any of those guys can (be the second option out of the backfield).”

Danny O’Neil: Add a speedy element to the Seahawks’ backfield

When looking at recent teams that have succeeded by following the lead of their running games, O’Neil sees an explosiveness the Seahawks have been lacking.

“I think that my fear or my worst-case scenario is if you went back toward a pro style. I like what Shanahan does, I’ve certainly liked what (Rams head coach Sean) McVay’s done, I think Cleveland’s interesting,” he said. “I think that’s the direction you want to go. Having a speed element and an explosive element to your run game rather than the plodding sort of style. … You want to have an explosive running game. You don’t want to have three yards and a cloud of dust. That shouldn’t be the goal here.”

Gallant’s reaction: Gallant agreed with O’Neil, especially in the case of the Browns, who actually have done better on offense after wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. suffered a season-ending injury and Cleveland stopped trying to be a balanced offense. Oh, and Browns offensive coordinator Alex Van Pelt could be somebody the Seahawks go after for their opening.

“(Browns quarterback) Baker Mayfield had 10 touchdowns to seven interceptions (before Beckham’s injury). Since Odell Beckham Jr. went down, 20 touchdowns to one interception,” Gallant pointed out. “You think Pete Carroll looks at that and doesn’t get excited over (possibly bringing Van Pelt to Seattle)? I would think so. I would be pumped to see if there’s somebody available on that Browns coaching staff as part of that turnover-free kind of offense.”

You can hear the full discussion in the middle segment of this podcast from Wednesday’s edition of Danny and Gallant.

More from Gallant: There’s plenty of proof Hawks needed an OC change

Danny and Gallant Show