JOHN CLAYTON

Clayton: With Eddie Lacy, Seahawks looking to revive power run game

Mar 15, 2017, 11:06 AM
The Seahawks will want Eddie Lacy to play in the 240-250 pound range in 2017, according to John Cla...
The Seahawks will want Eddie Lacy to play in the 240-250 pound range in 2017, according to John Clayton. (AP)
(AP)

Eddie Lacy may not have been the best running back on the free agent market, but he was the biggest.

For what Pete Carroll needed, bigger was better. To go back to the style of running that made the Seahawks a perennial Super Bowl contender, he needed the bigger back. Big worked for him at USC, and it worked for the Seahawks after they traded for Marshawn Lynch.

Henderson: Seahawks agree to terms on RB Eddie Lacy on one-year deal

Lynch gave the Seahawks’ running offense exactly what Carroll wanted – a physically imposing back who could strike fear in a defender. He wanted Beast Mode, a runner who would give defenders sleepless nights before games.

Lynch ran through defenders. He made them worry about getting injured trying to tackle him. Since Lynch hung up the cleats and retired, the Seahawks missed that violent type of offense.

Lacy was the closest to that style of back that was available. He’s listed in the program at 235 pounds, though over the past two years there were times in Green Bay his weight ballooned to over 260 pounds. That was too much, but Carroll isn’t asking Lacy to get down to 235. Lacy-lite isn’t the plan. He’ll want Lacy to be in the 240-250 range so he can cause problems for defenders.

Backs who are as thick and big as linebackers cause problems for opposing defenses. During his first two years in Green Bay, Lacy was a beast. Taken in the second round of the 2013 NFL Draft, Lacy went to the Pro Bowl as a rookie, rushing for 1,178 yards and 11 touchdowns. Head coach Mike McCarthy made him the workhorse, as Lacy averaged 18.9 carries per game. The next year, McCarthy cut down his load to 15.4 carries, but Lacy improved his yards per attempt from 4.1 to 4.6.

Carroll isn’t expecting Lacy to be a 19-carry back each week for the Seahawks. He has Thomas Rawls on early downs, C.J. Prosise on passing downs, and Alex Collins is a talented back who could surface in the NFL as a starter in the future.

You figure Lacy – if he starts – should get about 14 or 15 carries a game. Carroll would like the offense to get back to the days when they would get 28 to 32 running plays a game and physically wear down an opposing defense. If that strategy works, there would still be enough carries out there to get production out of Rawls, Prosise and maybe even Collins.

I remember after 2011 how surprising it was for the Seahawks to not re-sign Justin Forsett. He was on his second tour of duty with the Seahawks and perfect for the locker room because he could help Lynch, a former University of California teammate. But Forsett was only 5-foot-8 and 197 pounds, and Carroll wanted big so Forsett wasn’t brought back. Since then, the Seahawks have tried to get backs who weigh at least 215 pounds.

What helped Carroll to make the decision on Lacy was his willingness to accept a one-year “prove it” type of contract. For Lacy to earn $5.5 million this year, he would have to have a Pro Bowl-caliber season and maintain a certain weight level. If Lacy has a great season, the Seahawks could try to sign him to an extension, or they could let him go for a compensatory pick and go forward with Rawls and another young back.

Carroll wanted a commitment to a power running game. The addition of Lacy gives him more of that option.

Want more John Clayton? Listen on-demand to his weekday and Saturday shows as well as his “Cold Hard Facts” and “Clayton’s Morning Drive” segments on 710 ESPN Seattle. Also, check out his all-new “Schooled” podcast and look for his columns twice a week on 710Sports.com.

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