Bumpus answers big Seahawks questions about RB, QB

May 18, 2022, 12:12 AM | Updated: 9:18 am
Seahawks Rashaad Penny...
Rashaad Penny runs the ball for a touchdown as Tyler Lockett reacts on Jan. 2 against the Lions. (Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)
(Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

Things are going to be pretty different on offense for the Seattle Seahawks this year.

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That’s not breaking news, of course. When a team moves on from its franchise quarterback of the past decade, as the Seahawks did this offseason by dealing Russell Wilson to the Denver Broncos, you can bet changes are coming. And it leaves a lot of questions to be answered.

On Tuesday’s edition of The Mike Salk Show on Seattle Sports Station, Salk fired a trio of those questions in the way of Michael Bumpus, a former Seahawks wide receiver who is now a broadcast analyst for the team as well as a regular Seattle Sports contributor.

We covered one of those questions already in the post at this link, but let’s take a closer look at the other two here.

Who will be Seahawks’ rushing leader?

Now this is pretty intriguing.

The Seahawks have re-signed Rashaad Penny, their leader in the ground game last season, and the door is not closed on Chris Carson though there are questions about the availability of the two-time 1,000-yard rusher due to a neck injury that ended his 2021 season after just four games.

The really interesting part is that Seattle made Michigan State’s Kenneth Walker III the second running back taken in the 2022 NFL Draft, selecting him 41st overall in the second round. It’s believed that Walker, who won the 2021 Doak Walker Award as the best running back in college football, has a high ceiling after his arrival as a transfer from Wake Forest helped the Spartans turn around from a 2-5 team in 2020 to 11-2 last year.

Is Walker going to make that same kind of impact in his first year with the Seahawks?

“I think Ken Walker is going to play some ball,” Bumpus said. “I think he’s going to contribute, but – I don’t know, but I feel and I hope – that Rashad Penny is just going to ride the wave from last year. You’ve got some guys on this offensive line (rookies Charles Cross and Abraham Lucas) to help you out. I know they come from a spread offense, but they can run block. I think (Penny’s) just found his groove, and I think the coaches understand how to get him going.”

Penny, who was a first-round pick by the Seahawks in 2018, has been slowed by injuries throughout his career, but he finally started to make good on his potential after getting healthy down the stretch last season. He rushed for 749 yards in 10 games, tied Buffalo quarterback Josh Allen for the NFL lead in yards per attempt at 6.3, and ran for 135 yards or more in four of his last five games.

So what was Bumpus alluding to that Seahawks coaches now know is the best way to use Penny?

“We’re understanding that Rashaad Penny needs carries. He’s not going to be that guy to get five or six carries and then he’s going to break one for 60. He’s got to get going, he’s got to get warmed up.”

The question will remain whether Penny can stay healthy for a full season, but even if he has to miss a few games, Bumpus believes in his ability to keep putting up strong numbers.

“I’m going to go out and say he’s gonna miss two or three games,” Bumpus said. “I think most professionals in this league are going to miss a couple games a year. … I believe in what Rashaad Penny did last year. I think he’s gonna lead the charge. But I think Ken Walker is gonna get some touches, as well.”

Question 2: Will any 2022 Hawks QB start a game in ’23 or ’24?

As things stand, the Seahawks have Drew Lock, Geno Smith and Jacob Eason on their roster at quarterback. There’s speculation Seattle could be angling to get a rookie quarterback for 2023, however, as the next NFL Draft class is believed to be strong at the position.

“Well, that’s a tough one, right?” responded Bumpus. “We just talked about Drew Lock.”

Lock, who came over from the Broncos in the Wilson trade, has started 21 games since being taken in the second round of the 2019 draft, and comparisons are starting to be made between him and Jared Goff, who wasn’t spectacular during his time with the Los Angeles Rams but did help them reach the Super Bowl in the 2018 season. That comparison is notable because under offensive coordinator Shane Waldron, who was on the Rams’ staff at that time, the Seahawks are employing a similar system to the one Goff ran.

“Is (Lock) going to execute an offense the way that we saw (Goff) do that?” Bumpus continued. “Because we don’t know what this defense is going to look like, because I just said Rashaad Penny is going to be the running back to lead the charge but we’re still waiting to see if he can prove that, because there’s so many question marks surrounding the pieces around Drew Lock, I don’t think any of these guys are going to start a game next year. I think that (the Seahawks) are gonna draft a quarterback or they’re gonna get one in free agency, and they’re gonna throw them into the fire. I think Drew Lock does enough to keep this team competitive, but in 2023, someone’s coming in to compete and they might win the job.”

Salk then threw in a wrench into the conversation.

“So what about when they get Baker Mayfield before the season begins, he has a great season, takes them to the playoffs and they sign them to a two-year deal?” he asked Bumpus somewhat in jest.

Bumpus isn’t a fan of the idea of Seattle adding the 27-year-old Browns QB who is clearly being replaced by DeShaun Watson in Cleveland.

“I do not want Baker Mayfield,” Bumpus said. “If Baker comes over here, I’m not mad. Let’s see what we can do, but I just don’t want it.”

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Bumpus answers big Seahawks questions about RB, QB