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Heaps: With new coaches, Seahawks’ offense may not need a lead RB

If Chris Carson walks, the Seahawks may use Travis Homer and DeeJay Dallas more. (Getty)

The Seahawks have officially hired Shane Waldron and Andy Dickerson as offensive coordinator and run game coordinator, respectively, and now a big question is what happens with Seattle’s backfield in 2021.

Bumpus: Hawks adding two Rams coaches is moving in right direction

The Seahawks did run the ball more in the second half of the 2020 season after airing out the football more in the first eight games, but they still finished just 17th in rushing attempts while ranking 12th in rushing yards.

Now, the Seahawks enter the offseason without a clear-cut lead back as Chris Carson, Seattle’s leading rusher the last two seasons, is hitting unrestricted free agency.

Former NFL quarterback Jake Heaps of 710 ESPN Seattle’s Jake and Stacy previously was optimistic about Seattle’s chances to bring Carson back next season, but he isn’t as confident anymore.

“We’ll see if they can pull off a miracle, but I highly, highly doubt it,” Heaps said Friday.

If Carson doesn’t come back to Seattle and the Seahawks don’t sign a proven lead back, that could cause the team to go with a running back by committee approach. Seattle currently has three running backs on the roster in 2018 first-rounder Rashaad Penny, 2020 rookie DeeJay Dallas and Travis Homer, who will be a third-year pro. But in 2020, those three combined for just 70 rushes for 230 yards.

If the Seahawks go with a committee approach with those three or with another back in the mix, Heaps thinks Seattle should still be able to run the ball effectively due to the hires of Waldron and Dickerson.

“The one thing that gives me tremendous confidence is that if you just look at this last year and what the Rams were able to do, they had three guys average over 4 yards a carry,” he said.

The Rams’ leading rusher in 2020 was rookie Cam Akers, who finished with 625 yards and 4.3 yards per carry. Second-year back Darrell Henderson had 624 yards on 4.5 yards a carry while veteran Malcom Brown ran for 419 yards on 4.1 yards per carry.

“So that tells me it is the system,” Heaps said. “The system is a good one, and it’s not that you can just plug and play, but you’re able to find a way to get all three of these backs carries and opportunities to be successful.”

Heaps said quarterback Russell Wilson, who was Seattle’s second-leading rusher in 2020 with 513 yards, also can help the Seahawks’ run game just through scrambling. With Wilson and a few solid running backs, Heaps thinks the Seahawks and the new coaches on offense should be able to have success on the ground next season.

“I think Shane Waldron and that group now can have an effective running back by committee approach, and they’re (likely) going to have to,” he said.

You can hear Heaps’ full comments in the Four-Down Territory segment in the podcast at this link or in the player below.

Follow Brandon Gustafson on Twitter.

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