Could Seahawks have the NFL’s best running back group in 2020?

Jun 20, 2020, 11:13 AM
Seahawks RB Chris Carson...
Seahawks RB Chris Carson rushed for over 1,000 yards in 2018 and 2019. (Getty)

It’s well known that head coach Pete Carroll loves for the Seahawks to run the ball. Typically, the team is in the top 10 in the entire NFL for rushing yards.

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Traditionally, Seattle has had its success with one true lead running back who dominated the bulk of the carries. During the first half of Carroll’s tenure, that back was Marshawn Lynch, who rushed for over 1,000 yards from 2011 to 2014 while earning two First-Team All-Pro honors and making the Pro Bowl each of those seasons. Most recently, it’s been Chris Carson, who rushed for over 1,000 yards in 2018 and 2019.

But going into 2020, the Seahawks have arguably the best running back depth they’ve ever had since Carroll took over in 2010.

The room is headlined by Carson, but Seattle also has Carlos Hyde, who had over 1,000 yards last season for the Houston Texans and signed a one-year deal with Seattle this offseason, as well as 2018 first-round pick Rashaad Penny, 2019 sixth-round pick Travis Homer and 2020 fourth-round pick DeeJay Dallas.

An article on the Browns said Cleveland may have the best running back group in the NFL with Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt, but former NFL receiver Michael Bumpus said a case could be made that the Seahawks’ group is actually better.

“You look at Chris Carson who had 1,200 yards last year and seven touchdowns, you throw in a Carlos Hyde who had over 1,000 yards and those two alone put them in the fight to have the best running back corps,” he said on 710 ESPN Seattle’s Bob, Dave and Moore on Thursday. “But let’s not forget Rashaad Penny and what he brings to the table. You’ve still got a DeeJay Dallas and who knows what he’s going to do.”

Bumpus said that if the tandem of Chubb, who led the NFL in rushing in 2019, and Hunt, who led the NFL in rushing during his rookie season in 2017, is in fact the best in the league, Seattle should be considered for the No. 2 spot, but only if healthy. And unfortunately for Seattle and the team’s fans, that’s a big if based on recent history as Carson had season-ending injuries in 2017 and 2019 and Penny tore his ACL in Week 14 and is expected to miss the first six games of the season as he’ll likely start on the Physically Unable to Perform list.

“I think after that, you have to go with the Seattle Seahawks,” Bumpus said. “Again, Chris Carson is coming off the injury, but he’s shown he can put up 1,000 yards each year. Carlos Hyde is coming off his best year. And I think, worst case, say one of these guys isn’t available and you throw in Penny. I think Penny is good enough, if healthy – again, right? That’s the word we always have to use with this team – he can contribute a lot as well … I like the Seahawks running back room when healthy and if healthy, you can put them at the second or third backfield in the NFL.”

Jim Moore thinks the addition of Hyde over Devonta Freeman, who was linked to the Seahawks in free agency, could be big for the Seahawks as they pair him with Carson in the backfield.

“I’m glad they got Carlos Hyde and you look at what he did there with the Texans going for over 1,000 yards and Carson the season he had,” Moore said. “I understand why there’s some concerns with Carson because he’s had two of his three seasons have ended with injuries, but I don’t necessarily look at him as being an injury prone-type guy in the classic sense of that phrase. He was good the year before and we’ll see this year.”

Carson and Hyde, who had offseason shoulder surgery, should be ready to go from the start, unlike Penny, but Moore thinks Penny showed last year he can add a nice wrinkle to the offense when he’s healthy.

“You mentioned Rashaad Penny, he looked like he was on the verge of breaking out and being that 1-B guy to Carson you were hoping to his 1-A. He averaged 5.7 yards per carry,” he said. “… He had the one game in Philadelphia where he rushed for 129 yards and he followed that up with 15 carries for 74 against Minnesota the next week and then he got hurt against the Rams … But I was encouraged by what we saw from Penny for the most part last year.”

Bob Stelton isn’t quite sold on Penny yet despite the flashes we saw during the second half of last season.

“He’s shown glimpses, but if you look in totality, he’s played 21 total games including postseason and he’s rushed for over 100 yards twice in 21 games,” he said. “Now again, he hasn’t had a ton of carries if you look at his game-by-game stats and … I’ll use Jim’s logic as he applies it to Marquise Blair: If you were really that good, that special, that dynamic, why wouldn’t they give him more carries? Why wouldn’t they take some of the load of Chris Carson?”

You can listen to the full discussion on the Seahawks’ running back group at this link or in the player below.

Follow 710 ESPN Seattle’s Bob, Dave and Moore on Twitter.

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Could Seahawks have the NFL’s best running back group in 2020?