Yes, Chris Carson can win the Seahawks running back competition

SEATTLE, WA - OCTOBER 01: Running back Chris Carson #32 of the Seattle Seahawks rushes against Nate Hairston #27 of the Indianapolis Colts in the third quarter of the game at CenturyLink Field on October 1, 2017 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)
SEATTLE, WA - OCTOBER 01: Running back Chris Carson #32 of the Seattle Seahawks rushes against Nate Hairston #27 of the Indianapolis Colts in the third quarter of the game at CenturyLink Field on October 1, 2017 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images) /

Everywhere you look, Chris Carson looks likely to win the starting running back gig for the Seahawks. That doesn’t mean Rashaad Penny will lose out.

We’re big fans of Seattle running back Chris Carson. People that don’t follow the Seahawks that closely would no doubt be mystified at our unbridled excitement over the former Oklahoma State Cowboy. He’s a seventh-round pick that just played four games before he went down for the season. If you’ve somehow strayed into Seahawks territory, your confusion is easily understood. And just as easily cleared up.

So what’s to get excited about? 12s know what the Seahawks lost when Carson went down last year. Unfortunately, the last line in that article proved to be far too close to clairvoyant: “Maybe there is no other answer to who should play running back in Seattle now that Carson is gone.”  It took too long for Seattle to find Mike Davis on their own practice squad last season, and the season ultimately wasn’t what we wanted.

2018 looks much more promising, though. We know what Mike Davis can do now. C. J. Prosise looks healthy, at least so far. Best of all, Seattle added first round pick Rashaad Penny to the backfield competition. Now, when your most reliable returning starters are a seventh round pick and a guy you pulled in from the practice squad, you’d think the first round kid would be a lock, right?

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Seahawks likely to start Carson over Penny

Not so fast. Not by a long shot. We’ve already discussed that the Seahawks start the people who perform on the field, not who they expected to perform. That “Always Compete” sign isn’t just a catchy slogan in Seattle. Penny will have to earn the starting job. So far, it looks like Chris Carson has the job locked in.

Pete Carroll had plenty to say about Carson way back in June, according to reporter John Boyle:

"What has really jumped out is Chris Carson,” Carroll said when asked who has stood out in offseason workouts. “Chris has looked incredible the whole time, the entire offseason. He hasn’t missed one snap of anything. He just looks so fit, he’s just so cut and quick and explosive and all that. He might be the guy, when you look at everybody, who jumps out in that regard."

That was nearly two months ago. Since training camp opened, the excitement – I refuse to call it hype – has just gotten bigger. The NFL Network’s Gregg Rosenthal certainly likes what he sees:

"Chris Carson… is getting all the first team reps, and I don’t think this is just Pete Carroll trying to make a statement. I think it’s Pete Carroll prizing competition and looking at Chris Carson potentially as the best back on that team. He was really impressive, for people that didn’t see him a year ago. I mean this guy looks like Iron Man running the ball. He’s bulked up, ad I think he’s a first round talent, even though he was a seventh round pick."

Rashaad Penny of the Seahawks
SAN DIEGO, CA – SEPTEMBER 02: Rashaad Penny #20 of the San Diego State Aztecs runs for a touchdown during the first half of a game at Qualcomm Stadium on September 2, 2017 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images) /

Seahawks need more than one great back

Iron Man, huh? Okay, so maybe there’s some hype. But it’s national hype, not just local. Chris Carson shows every sign of delivering the full menu of what 12s only got a taste of last year. The great thing is, this doesn’t mean Rashaad Penny will be relegated to the bench. Not at all. Pete Carroll made it clear before last season that he wanted to run the ball much more. That was the plan, at least.

Obviously the three-headed running attack was basically stillborn. Prosise and Thomas Rawls were constantly injured, and Eddie Lacy was – well, you know what he was. The key is, Carroll said Seattle lost 100 runs in 2016. From 2012 through 2015, the Seahawks ran the ball an average of 518 times. In 2016 and 2017, they averaged just 406 carries.

You know what, folks? Chris Carson may be Iron Man, but even he can’t carry the ball 500 times. Russell Wilson will probably take off upfield about 100 times. He’s averaged 96 carries a year over his career. That leaves 400 carries. The Seahawks aren’t about to ask a running back to carry the ball nearly 400 times. At least not one not named Shaun Alexander. That season pretty much ruined him, so I doubt Carroll would do the same to Carson.

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We’ve made the point before; there are plenty of carries to go around. The New Orleans Saints has Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara. In Atlanta the tandem of Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman has been tearing it up. Last year the New England Patriots had three running backs with over 500 yards from scrimmage, and a fourth with 398 total yards. Chris Carson may be Iron Man, but that doesn’t mean Rashaad Penny can’t be Thor. Which leads to the inevitable conclusion; that only Russell Wilson could be Captain America. Good thing, too. Every team needs a great leader.