The Seahawks certainly can’t afford to lose anyone at this point. To my mind, the biggest potential loss is their starting bulldozer, D.J. Fluker.
I bet you know the Seahawks are in trouble. I’m not talking about them being three and half games behind the Rams. That isn’t great, but the trouble I’m talking about is all their recent injuries. Of course, those don’t even count losing Earl Thomas for the season. But the biggest of these recent injuries is to guard D.J. Fluker.
D.J. Fluker may not be the biggest talent on the Seahawks – although at 6’5″ and 342 pounds, he is in the physical sense. But as this team is designed, Fluker is incredibly important to its success. In what seems like a pronouncement from the Bronze Age, coach Pete Carroll said his team needed to re-establish its identity as a running team. Adding Fluker to the Seahawks offensive line was a very big part of the run game renaissance.
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Seattle didn’t exactly commit to the run from the start of this season. While that was mainly due to near inexplicable play calling, I have to admit it didn’t help that Fluker wasn’t in the lineup for those first two contests. It’s unconscionable that the Seahawks only ran the ball 16 times in Denver, and somehow didn’t run once in the third quarter in Chicago.
Here’s the interesting stat, though. Against the Broncos Seattle averaged 4.0 yards per carry. Versus the Bears the average dropped to just 3.4 yards. That drop is partly due to the coaches apparently forgetting Chris Carson was still on the team, as he had no carries in the second half after averaging 4.0 in the first. Rashaad Penny got 30 yards on 10 carries.
Before we get back to Mr. Fluker, as of the beginning of the second half in Chicago, Carson had 75 yards on 13 carries for the season. Penny had 38 yards on 17 carries. That’s 5.77 yards for Carson versus 2.24 for Penny. Ummm… not the right choice there, coach. Oh, I forgot – Carson was supposedly gassed.
Seahawks need Fluker to make the ground game go
Okay, back to D.J. Fluker. The Seahawks rushing average in those first two games without the behemoth was 3.63 yards. That’s 138 yards on 38 carries. Blecch. Since Fluker joined the fun, Seattle has run for 959 yards on 216 attempts. That’s an average of 4.44 yards per carry. That, my friends, is a massive difference – almost as massive as the Seahawks right guard himself. I’ll grant you, the two games without Fluker are a small sample. Perhaps the heavy use of Penny instead of Carson in the Bears game skewed the numbers. Sure, it’s a possibility.
The thing is, there’s no denying the Seahawks are better running the ball with D.J. Fluker in the game. Yeah, okay, they’re better when Chris Carson is the guy carrying the rock, too. At this point, everyone knows about Carson. Fluker is just starting to get noticed. For a guard, that’s pretty good!
One thing for sure, the Rams know all about D.J. Fluker, especially after he called them out after the first game. We’ll discuss this bit of fun another time. Aside from the fact the Seahawks chance to win is drastically improved with Fluker in the lineup, I really want to see the big man go up against Ndamumkong Suh again. For now, it looks likely we’ll get our wish.