What’s to blame for Seahawks’ poor rushing attack in 2023?

Jan 27, 2024, 9:55 AM

Seattle Seahawks Kenneth Walker III...

Seattle Seahawks RB Kenneth Walker III is tackled by the Bengals' Cam Taylor-Britt. (Dylan Buell/Getty Images)

(Dylan Buell/Getty Images)

The Seattle Seahawks were always known for wanting to run the ball during Pete Carroll’s time as head coach, but that didn’t go to plan during his last year running the show.

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The Hawks finished the season 28th in rushing in the NFL. Second-year back Kenneth Walker III rushed for 905 yards in 15 games while rookie Zach Charbonnet rushed for 462.

So why didn’t the Seahawks find success on the ground in 2023? Former NFL offensive lineman and current Seahawks radio analyst “Big” Ray Roberts shared his thoughts with Seattle Sports’ Bump and Stacy on Tuesday.

“I think the injuries along the offensive line … eventually came back to bite them because you just can’t get the continuity that you want up there, you can’t get the consistency in the play, you can’t know what to expect from different guys,” Roberts said.

Tackles Charles Cross and Abraham Lucas both got hurt in Week 1, with Cross missing three games afterwards and Lucas missing all but six games in 2023. Left guard Damien Lewis and center Evan Brown both missed one game each, while Week 1 starting right guard Phil Haynes missed nine games.

Having a mix-and-match offensive line likely impacted Seattle’s ability to run the ball, as well as the play-calling in general.

“When there’s certain players that are out of the game, you go like, ‘Man, I don’t know if we can run that now. This guy doesn’t block that as well’ or ‘That guy doesn’t run the route better than the other receiver’ or ‘This quarterback doesn’t throw it the same way the other guy throws it,'” Roberts said. “So I think that started to kind of impact what they were able to do on the offensive line with all the guys going in and out. Were they prepared to play? Yeah. But were they prepared to play the style that they wanted to play? I don’t think they could just because of all the rotations on the offensive line.”

Additionally, Roberts thinks the Seahawks’ run game under Carroll tried to replicate one of his former players but to no avail.

“And then I think the Seahawks keep trying to find the next Marshawn Lynch, and he doesn’t exist. Marshawn Lynch is one of one,” he said. “There are dudes that might look like him sometimes, they might have some success in some ways that he’s had success, but they are just not him. And so you have to come up with other ways to also know, ‘Well, this is the best way to use this running back, and how do we devise a system that matches the skills with the offensive line with the skills of the running back?’ And I think that’s where some blame or fault happened.”

An offensive lineman at 16?

The Seahawks hold the No. 16 overall pick in the 2024 NFL Draft, and based on the current roster, there’s plenty of directions the team could go with that selection.

NFL Network’s Daniel Jeremiah released his first mock draft of the offseason, and he had Seattle taking UW Huskies left tackle Troy Fautanu.

The Seahawks don’t need a tackle with Cross and Lucas entering their third NFL seasons, but some, including Jeremiah, think Fautanu is likely going to be a guard at the NFL level.

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Should drafting a guard or center 16th overall be in play for the Seahawks?

“I think if you draft an interior offensive lineman in the first round, they have to absolutely be head and shoulders above who you already have. And unless you’re worried about Abe Lucas being hurt, I don’t see the deficiencies that people see where you feel like you have to make a big upgrade there in the first round,” Roberts said. “I think you can find guys later … that can come in and compete for jobs and push some of these guys in the interior. But I would say the biggest issue with the interior line here, it’s just a health issue. And you can’t always guarantee that no matter where you draft them.”

Listen to Bump and Stacy’s full interview with Ray Roberts at this link or in the player near the top of this story.

More on the Seattle Seahawks

• How other head coaching hires have impacted the Seattle Seahawks
• What should Seahawks do with Geno, Adams and Wagner? ESPN’s Yates weighs in
• Why is the Seattle Seahawks’ coaching search taking so long?
• ESPN draft analyst gives 2 prospects who seem like Seahawks
• Why ESPN’s Yates thinks Seahawks will hire Dan Quinn as coach
• Draft prospects to help Seahawks on offensive, defensive lines

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