Heaps: Equal parts excited, uneasy about Seahawks’ Rashaad Penny

Jan 26, 2022, 9:09 AM
Seahawks RB Rashaad Penny...
Seahawks RB Rashaad Penny stiff arms Tracy Walker III of the Detroit Lions on Sunday at Lumen Field. (Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)
(Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

The Seahawks finished the 2021 season on a high note, winning their final two games of the year as well as four of their last six.

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Seattle still ended the season at 7-10 and in last place in the NFC West, but there were a lot of positives in the final stretch of the season that the Seahawks hope carry over into 2022.

Former NFL quarterback Jake Heaps explained on Tuesday’s edition of Jake and Stacy on 710 ESPN Seattle that he’s very excited about one player he thinks the Seahawks will rely on in 2022, but at the same time feels a bit uneasy about that player.

“Rashaad Penny,” Heaps said. “I am super excited about the prospect of having Rashaad Penny play at that level all season long and being that type of player.”

Penny, the Seahawks’ 2018 first-round pick, came alive in a big way at the end of the 2021 season.

The young running back rushed for 671 yards and six touchdowns over Seattle’s final five games, and he had over 130 yards in four of those five and over 170 in the final two contests of the season. Penny, who is set to hit unrestricted free agency this offseason, finished the year with a career-high 749 rushing yards and a league-leading 6.3 yards per carry among qualified running backs.

Penny has always shown big-play ability when he’s played for the Seahawks, but he’s regularly been injured throughout his NFL career.

Penny was far and away the best running back in football over the last five weeks of the 2021 season, and his emergence correlated with Seattle’s offense playing very well during that final stretch. Because of his excellent play, many – including Heaps – think the Seahawks will re-sign Penny this offseason and will give him a major role in the offense next season.

“If he’s playing at that level – and I’m not saying 190 yards (a game) and having unrealistic expectations – but if he can be somebody that’s a big-play hitter for you and somebody that can really change the dynamic of your offense and make defenses respect the running game in a serious way, then guess what? It is going to open everything up for this offense,” Heaps said. “It’s going to unlock this offense.”

The Seahawks averaged 31.2 points per game during those five weeks where Penny was the lead back, and they scored 89 points over the final two games of the year. The offense was explosive not just in the running game but in the passing game as well with play-action.

“You saw what it looked like in the last two weeks,” Heaps said.

But Penny’s reputation of being an oft-injured player leaves Heaps a little skittish.

“Why I’m really uneasy about (Penny playing a key role and) knowing the talent that Rashaad Penny has is that he’s never been able to stay healthy in his career,” Heaps said. “He has not finished a complete season – not even close to it. And this is the guy that you’re relying on to be that key to your offense being truly dynamic and explosive and fun and exciting. … That’s exactly what the Seahawks are going to be relying on.”

Out of 65 regular season games since entering the league in 2018, Penny has missed 28.

Listen to the second hour of Tuesday’s Jake and Stacy at this link or in the player below.

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Heaps: Equal parts excited, uneasy about Seahawks’ Rashaad Penny