Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll took the podium at the NFL Combine and addressed about 1,001 issues. What stood out for me was the omission of Mike Davis from a discussion of running backs.
Typically, when your team’s head coach talks about a one-two punch at running back, a fan has one of two reactions. First: “Oh great, we don’t have one guy who can get the job done.” Think Seahawks of 2017, when the leading running back gained just 240 yards. Second: “Yes! We’ve got thunder and lightning, and we are going to dominate!” Think Seattle of 2018, which featured backs that ran for 1,000 yards, 500 yards, and 400 yards. I guess that would be thunder, lightning, and hail.
The oddity for Seattle is that thunder and hail were on the team in 2017. Thunder has to be the booming Chris Carson. If you don’t know he only played in four games in 2017, I’ll help you find your way to that sudoku page you were trying to find. Hail would be Mike Davis, who was literally the last man standing in the Seahawks backfield in 2017. He proved to be a dynamic runner and very aggressive receiver out of the backfield. Of course, Davis was the leading rusher with his 240 yards. Not great, but he only averaged 11 carries a game. Between them, Carson and Davis made just 10 starts in 2017.
What a difference a year makes. A year, and players like D.J. Fluker and J.R. Sweezy. We’ve been fans of the road-grader and the prodigal son for quite some time. Their addition certainly helped Carson hit 1,151 yards and nine touchdowns. Davis benefited as well, as he gained 514 yards and saw his average carry climb from 3.5 to 4.6 yards. The third member of the terrific trio would be lightning, Rashaad Penny.
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Penny was drafted on the strength of leading the NCCA in rushing and some pretty devastating return skills. Penny’s development stalled with an early preseason injury, but he still ran for 419 yards at an impressive 4.9 yards per carry. He ran a 4.46, so of course, he’s lightning, even though Davis outgained him and had started both games when Carson was out.
I, along with millions of 12s throughout the world, really like Davis and his never, and I mean never, say die attitude. I’m sure you shared my chagrin when Pete Carroll talked about the Seahawks one-two punch in their backfield today. Um, Coach, didn’t you mean one-two-three? Nope. The name Mike Davis never escaped his lips.
We all know Carroll’s mantra, “always compete”. But seriously, “One-two punch, and I don’t know who’s one and who’s two, it doesn’t matter to me,” just doesn’t sit well with me. Carroll went on to praise Chris Carson to the roof, as he should. He had a lot of good things to say about Penny as well. Again, the praise was deserved. But one guy was the clear starter, the other the one who couldn’t be trusted to step in yet. It’s cool to bolster Penny’s confidence, but Carson is the man.
Then for Carroll to add, “We have plenty of room for both those guys,” well, I’m not quite sure what to say. Surely you meant to say, “All three of those guys.” Carroll apparently expects Davis to get an offer the Seahawks can’t, or more accurately, won’t match. That makes me lose happiness.
My head knows that Carson is stronger and faster. I can see that Penny is much faster, much quicker. But all my heart sees is this:
Come on, Pete. Of all people, you know you need depth at running back. And while my head wrote about this group as the Seahawks backfield for 2019, my heart absolutely demands that Davis stays in Seattle. If anyone embodies “Always Compete”, it’s Mike Davis.