The glaring difference between the Seahawks and this year’s Conference champions
The four teams that met Sunday in the NFL conference playoff games have a couple things in common – traits that obviously set them apart from the rest of the pack as the season progressed – but there’s one thing these teams share that the Seahawks’ found utterly out of their grasp in 2017: a strong run game.
The Patriots’ top three running backs (Dion Lewis, Mike Gillislee, and Rex Burkhead) put up a combined 16 rushing touchdowns and 1,543 rushing yards. The Vikings’ top three running backs (Latavius Murray, Jerick McKinnon and Dalvin Cook) put up a combined 13 touchdowns and 1,766 rushing yards. Despite losing Pro Bowl starter Darren Sproles in Week 3, the Eagles’ remaining tailbacks finished with a combined nine touchdowns and a combined 1,726. Rookie Leonard Fournette had 1,040 yards and nine touchdowns alone for the Jaguars.
Meanwhile, all five of the Seahawks’ tailbacks finished with less than 1,000 yards (971) combined and one rushing touchdown. No single running back surpassed 240 yards, and just two players surpassed 200.
It’s the failure to get the run game going, though, that gives 710 ESPN Seattle’s Gee Scott reason to believe Seattle can bounce back sooner rather than later.
“This is why I don’t think the Seahawks are too far away,” Scott said. “I don’t think this is all about rebuilding. The Seahawks dropped the ball big time when it came to the run game this past season. They brought in Eddie Lacy and it just wasn’t good at all, call it a failure, call it whatever it was, it just was not good. A guy that you didn’t know if he was going to dress (for games), he got paid $4.2 million to come in here and get zero touchdowns and less than 200 yards rushing. Your only rushing touchdown (by a running back) for the season was one, and that was J.D. McKissic, and let’s be real, we just heard about that dude this year. So, I don’t think the Seahawks are that far away, I just think a running back for this offense would change the game.”
Do they draft or go free agent? It’s unlikely Seattle would use their 18th overall pick – they’re without a second- or third-round selection and have a glaring need at defensive end. But this year’s class of running backs is deep.
“They have to go draft. Simple as that,” 710 ESPN Seattle’s John Clayton told Scott. “And the reason they have to go draft … is because, again, the compensatory picks. You may think, ‘Why care about the compensatory picks for 2019?’ Well, when you have voids in the second and third round like they have right now, you now have to replace that and you’ve got to get younger. Because remember: you’re not only worried about next year, you’re worried about the year after. And this roster is going through major changes and they need to get younger and they need to get better players. And of course, that’s why if you can get four good compensatory picks for guys that you lose, then you now can trade them and do different things and try to make your roster a little bit better.”