Hasselbeck: What Rashaad Penny’s ‘career day’ did for the Seahawks

Dec 15, 2021, 12:37 PM

Seahawks RB Rashaad Penny...

Seahawks RB Rashaad Penny of the reacts after scoring a touchdown against the Houston Texans in 2021. (Tim Warner/Getty Images)

(Tim Warner/Getty Images)

The Seahawks were able to get a rather comfortable 33-13 win over the Houston Texans thanks in large part to the running game and a big performance by running back Rashaad Penny.

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Penny, the team’s oft-injured 2018 first-round draft pick, had a career day rushing for 137 yards and two touchdowns on just 16 carries.

Former Seahawks quarterback Matt Hasselbeck broke down what he saw from Penny and how the running back’s big game helped the team as a whole during the latest Matt Hasselbeck Show on 710 ESPN Seattle.

Hasselbeck told Mike Salk that he never quite understood the Seahawks drafting Penny in the first round both at the time of the pick and even early on in Penny’s career. But the talent that led Penny to being picked that early was on full display against the Texans.

“Everything that you heard from coaches and scouts in Seattle, you saw it on display this week,” he said. “He looked like a different guy in this crazy way.”

Hasselbeck thinks that the Seahawks signing future Hall of Fame running back Adrian Peterson “sent a message” and may have given Penny, other running backs and the team a a whole a big boost. Hasselbeck said that happened when Peterson was with the New Orleans Saints a few years ago as both Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram stepped up their games with Peterson in the building.

“I just wonder if having a guy like Adrian Peterson in a way helped (Penny) mindset-wise or physically or something,” Hasselbeck said. “Rashaad Penny looked different.”

Just how did Penny look different than in previous games he’s played in?

“The first play the game was a nine-yard gain … and it was just like, whoa, who is this? Sending a message,” Hasselbeck said. “And then even when (the offensive line) blocked things wrong early in that game, he was like, ‘Yep, don’t care. I’m not gonna sit around here and be like, technically I’m supposed to go (to this spot). No, I’m going, I’m just downhill. I don’t care.’ It just looked different to me. And it was exciting.”

The two most exciting plays Penny made were his long touchdown runs of 32 and 47 yards. Hasselbeck said anytime a running back takes what looks like a 10-yard gain and turns it into a longer, more explosive run, “everyone’s gonna really get excited about that.”

“That gets everybody going,” he said. “That’s a game-changing-type back and that’s what he was in a career day.”

While Penny’s big day clearly helped the Seahawks in terms of moving the chains and putting points on the board, how else did it give the team a boost?

“One of the things that people don’t realize is the effect that it has on your defense,” Hasselbeck said of a strong running game.

The Seahawks this year have been one of the worst teams in the NFL in terms of time of possession, which has caused the defense to play a lot of snaps.

“(It just improves) the opportunity that you have for the guys on defense to get a breather.”

Offensively, Hasselbeck said it’s “obvious” how a strong running game helps open things up, which is especially critical given how the Seahawks want to play offensively.

“The naked bootleg game, the play-action game – those are those are staples of most offenses for sure, and for sure (with) Seattle’s offense,” he said. “They get their tight ends going in the naked bootleg game, they get the freebies and layups going for the quarterback and some receivers in the naked bootleg (game) and then the play-action game, that’s when Seattle has been so successful taking shots (downfield).”

While a strong running game helps the quarterback and pass catchers in the passing game, it helps the big boys up front more than anybody, Hasselbeck said.

“They have the opportunity to be the aggressor and go out and fire out and be a run blocker instead of having to be passive, sit back and try to hand fight somebody in the pass protection game,” he said.

Listen to the latest Matt Hasselbeck Show at this link or in the player below.

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Hasselbeck: What Rashaad Penny’s ‘career day’ did for the Seahawks