STACY ROST

Most Important Seahawks: 2 top playmakers for Seattle’s offense

Aug 10, 2021, 10:12 AM
Seahawks RB Chris Carson...
The Seahawks re-signed top RB Chris Carson to a two-year deal this offseason. (Getty)
(Getty)

As the Seahawks continue to work through training camp, my co-host Jake Heaps and I are counting down the 15 most important Seahawks of 2021. We spotlight a new profile every weekday at 1 p.m. during Jake and Stacy.

• No. 15 DE Carlos Dunlap
• No. 14 LB Jordyn Brooks
• No. 13 TE Gerald Everett
• No. 12 OLs Damien Lewis and Gabe Jackson
• No. 11 DT Poona Ford
• No. 10 S Quandre Diggs
• No. 9 CB D.J. Reed
• No. 8 DE Darrell Taylor

The list continues with Nos. 7 and 6.

No. 7: RB Chris Carson

Pete Carroll has received his share of criticism for his reliance on the run game, but make no mistake – this team is better with Chris Carson on the field.

Carson’s powerful running style is the physical embodiment of the type of football Carroll loves. He’s tough and relentless, a throwback to the ’70s, ’80s and ’90s, and is adept at bulldozing through would-be tacklers.

That style is exactly what made Carson the first Seahawks halfback since Marshawn Lynch to rush for 1,000 yards in a season – and the first since Lynch to do it again the year after that. But it’s also contributed to a few injuries. I’d argue Carson isn’t deserving of an injury-prone label; he’s appeared in 41 of a possible 48 regular season games since becoming a full-time starter in 2018. And he’s not alone in missing time. Of the nine running backs who finished with 1,000 or more rushing yards in 2020, just one (Tennessee’s Derrick Henry) started all 16 games.

That said, Carson has suffered injuries at times when Seattle has needed him most. He landed on the injured reserve with a fractured hip in Week 16 of 2019. In 2020, he missed four consecutive games against the 49ers, Bills, Rams and Cardinals. During that time, the Seahawks saw their only pair of consecutive losses (against the Bills in Week 9 and Rams in Week 10).

A healthy Carson gives the Seahawks – and new offensive coordinator Shane Waldron – an explosive weapon. And if Seattle’s best bet at a Super Bowl run lies with an elite offense, Carson becomes one of its most important ingredients.

What Jake said (audio): “Chris Carson is 26 years old and playing really, really good football. Back to back 1,000-yard seasons in 2018 and 2019. Last year he only played 12 games, but he didn’t suffer a significant injury that was damaging to his knees or shoulders or anything real structural, and he ended up having still a pretty good year. His numbers went down because they brought in Carlos Hyde, they wanted to try to save Carson as much as they possibly could to get him into the playoffs. And like we mentioned, Russell was ‘cooking’ in the beginning of the season and they kind of transitioned away from a heavy run game … Despite that, Carson had 4.8 yards per carry and five touchdowns, so still a very good year. Getting him back at the price point you did was an absolute steal and if this was a regular market, he would’ve gotten paid much more than he did.

“One thing he does that’s underrated in his game is his ability to catch the football. He can be a weapon in the screen game, out on the edge in the perimeter as a pass catcher. He’s not a guy that’s going to go and run sluggos and receiver routes, but just get him the ball out in space, get him the ball in the flat. He can make guys miss and get you positive yards … In terms of his running style, he’s a downhill, physical runner who attacks it, he sees lanes, he trusts lanes and trusts the running scheme and has excellent vision and an ability to cut back when things flow play-side. He’s going to get a lot more opportunities to do that in this heavy zone scheme with Shane Waldron.”

No: 6: WR Tyler Lockett

Why not go heavy on offense after back-to-back defenders at Nos. 8 and 9?

Veteran Tyler Lockett becomes the first receiver to make the list, coming in at No. 6.

Third-year pro DK Metcalf may have blossomed into a superstar in Seattle, but Lockett continues to be Wilson’s top target. Lockett finished with 100 receptions on a team-high 132 targets for 1,054 yards and 10 touchdowns in 2020. Like his predecessor Doug Baldwin, Lockett has an uncanny awareness of Wilson when plays break down, which has led to a number of improbable completions.

Like Metcalf, the Seahawks will be especially reliant on Lockett’s ability to stay healthy. Following the departure of David Moore this past spring, the team has little experience behind it’s two top receivers. The next-closest wide receiver in total yards in 2020 was Freddie Swain (13 receptions for 159 yards).

What Jake said (audio): “Tyler Lockett is the most consistent receiver you have. He’s the guy Wilson goes to in critical situations, not just big plays down the field but also on third down, in the red zone. Tyler Lockett is underrated in this league because he’s undersized and he’s not flashy; he’s even less flashy than Doug Baldwin, who we talked about not getting enough respect for years, despite that fact that he was clearly a No. 1 slot receiver in the NFL and one of the more dynamic weapons in the NFL at the time.

“The problem with Lockett’s season last year – and there’s a common theme here with the second half of the season for the offense taking a dip – Lockett’s touchdowns and yardage also took a dip in the second half. If there was one question mark I had, it’s that we’ve seen big explosive outputs from him, we’ve seen those outputs come in bunches, but we haven’t seen that consistency over all 16 games. I’m not saying that as a negative reflection on the player; I’m saying as an offense, they need to do a better job of keeping him involved every game, all 16 games, into the playoffs. I know it’s predicated on matchups, which I’m fine with, but you’ve still got to find ways to get this guy the ball. He is so talented. His route running, his savviness, his hands are some of the best in the NFL. It’s awesome to be able to have him locked up for four more years, and he’s a big part of this offense being an explosive group in 2021.”

Follow Stacy Rost on Twitter.

More on Seahawks training camp

• The sticky situation the Seahawks are in with Duane Brown
• Clayton: Who and what stood out in Seahawks’ scrimmage
• Will Seahawks be looking for Carson to be a workhorse RB?
• Wyman: 5 Seahawks we aren’t talking about enough
• Rookie CB Tre Brown: I’ll ‘definitely make a name for myself’

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