Will Seahawks be looking for Chris Carson to be a workhorse RB?
The Seahawks have one of the better running backs in the NFL, but they didn’t really use Chris Carson in a manner that reflected that in 2020.
After Carson ran for over 1,000 yards in the two seasons prior, Seattle held him to just 38% of its offensive snaps compared to 65% in 2019 and 43% in 2018. As a result, he managed 681 yards on 141 carries over 12 games last year. Even though he averaged a career-best 4.8 yards per attempt, his total yardage and rushing touchdowns (five) were the lowest since his rookie year in 2017.
For context, 710 ESPN Seattle’s Paul Gallant pointed out that Carson’s 2020 snap percentage was lower than Cleveland’s Nick Chubb (39%), who isn’t even the running back who appeared the most on the field for the Browns last season (Kareem Hunt played 52% of Cleveland’s snaps). Carson, of course, is unquestionably the Seahawks’ No. 1 tailback.
Health was likely the main factor why the Seahawks didn’t push Carson too hard last season after he was unavailable for the 2019 playoffs due to a late-season hip injury, but his low usage was still puzzling at times in 2020.
“There were times I remembered just asking why they took Chris Carson out of the game,” Gallant said during Friday’s edition of Danny and Gallant.
It’s expected that Carson will get more of a workload in Seattle’s offense under new offensive coordinator Shane Waldron this year, but there’s another wrinkle added into the mix, and that’s the fact that No. 2 back Rashaad Penny is healthy.
So how much will the Seahawks rely on Carson? Former NFL wide receiver and current Seahawks analyst Michael Bumpus shared his thoughts Friday with Danny and Gallant.
“I think they will give him the ball more this year, and I think they have to,” Bumpus said. “No knock on Rashaad Penny, I think he’s a solid No. 2, but in my opinion Chris Carson is a top five running back in the NFL, and for what Shane Waldron wants to do with that zone look and influencing the linebackers (to make) the safeties kind of bite down, 32 (Carson) is really going to establish that.”
Bumpus pointed to Carson’s reputation compared to Penny’s as a big reason behind his answer.
“(Carson) is the guy who’s going to get downhill, he’s the guy who’s going to break tackles right now and make you pay for trying to come up and wrap him up. I don’t see Rashaad Penny instilling that fear in the defense right now. Can he get there? Eventually we will see – he has to be healthy, he just hasn’t been healthy. But what we do know is that when 32 gets the ball, man, he can get hit in the backfield and he’s still going to fall forward at least 3 yards at minimum. That’s just what he does.”
So what kind of workload can be expected for Carson? It’s unlikely to look like his 2019 season or what stars like Derrick Henry and Ezekiel Elliott are asked to do for the Titans and Cowboys, respectively.
“I think they will feed him the ball,” Bumpus said of the Seahawks. “I don’t think he’s going to be a guy who’s going to get as many touches as Derrick Henry or Ezekiel Elliott. He just doesn’t need to because of all the weapons and the offense that’s going to be installed. He becomes like a distraction (once the run is established). He’s an illusion now. You think he’s going to get the ball but now you got that jet sweep, you got that deep cross over the middle. He will touch the ball a little bit more, but there’s no need for him to touch that rock 69% of the time like Ezekiel Elliott, 66% of the time like Derrick Henry.”
You can hear the full conversation between Bumpus, Gallant and Danny O’Neil during the Blue 42 segment in the podcast at this link or in the player below.