Seahawks Chris Carson will catch 50, but he won’t catch John Williams

4 Oct 1992: Running back John L. Williams of the Seattle Seahawks moves the ball during a game against the San Diego Chargers at Jack Murphy Stadium in San Diego, California. The Chargers won the game, 17-6.
4 Oct 1992: Running back John L. Williams of the Seattle Seahawks moves the ball during a game against the San Diego Chargers at Jack Murphy Stadium in San Diego, California. The Chargers won the game, 17-6. /

Chris Carson will almost certainly get 50 catches this season. That’s great, but it’s nowhere near John Willams record for Seahawks running backs.

Prior to the start of the season, Seahawks offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer said he expected Chris Carson to have 50 targets for the season. I wasn’t too sure about that goal but concluded if Seattle used Carson correctly, he could do it. Considering the third-year back’s progress, I believe he’ll have 50 catches, let alone targets.

One thing he won’t do is catch the Seahawks all-time receiving leader for running backs. That record belongs to fullback John Williams. In fact, I think Carson will wind up behind six of the former Seattle fullback’s seasons. For you 12s who weren’t following the team in the late ’80s and ’90s, you missed out on one heck of a player.

Williams played fullback for the Seahawks from 1986 through 1993 and closed out his career with two seasons with the Steelers. You read that right; Williams played fullback. You have to realize that back then, most teams had fullbacks that actually ran the ball and caught passes. He played in the heyday of Ground Chuck, aka Chuck Knox. Despite playing four years with Curt Warner and two more with Chris Warren, Williams got plenty of touches. He even led the Hawks in yards and carries in 1991.

Seattle Seahawks
Seattle Seahawks /

Seattle Seahawks

The one stat that really pops for Williams is receptions. He tied for third on the Hawks as a rookie with 33 catches. In his second season, he finished second on the team with 38 receptions. He led the Seahawks in 1998 with 58 catches. That team had Steve Largent and Brian Blades, who would catch exactly 1,400 passes over their careers. And they threw to the fullback more than either of them.

As it turns out, Williams was just warming up. Over the next four seasons, Williams caught 76, 73, 61, and 74 passes. He led Seattle again for two of those seasons and finished second the other two years – once just one catch behind Blades. Those 74 catches in 1992 accounted for 32 percent of the Seahawks total that year. Williams caught more footballs than Seattle’s next three receivers combined. That is a dominant season. Obviously, Chris Carson is not ever going to match that accomplishment.

Man, Williams caught a LOT of footballs for the Seahawks

In 1993, his last in Seattle, Williams saw his receptions drop to 58. Read that again – a fullback’s catches “dropped” to 58. That’s how prolific the man was. He still finished second on the team in catches behind Blades, who bounced back from an injury-shortened six-game slate in 1992. Overall, Williams only finished below second in receptions once in eight seasons, leading the team for three seasons. Bear in mind two of those seasons were with quarterbacks like Stan Gelbaugh, Kelly Stouffer, and Rick Mirer pulling the trigger.

He did have Dave Krieg for his first six years, and that’s pretty good. Just imagine what Williams could have done with Russell Wilson under center. Actually, he probably would have caught fewer passes, as Wilson loves to throw the deep ball. That’s one reason Chris Carson doesn’t stand a chance of catching Williams. As for catching 50 balls, Carson will almost certainly do it.

After the first four games, Carson was averaging 3.5 catches per game. A bit of mathematical prestidigitation – yes, I counted on my fingers – and you see that he was on pace for 56 receptions. After his single catch versus the Rams, a very important catch indeed, Carson is averaging exactly three receptions per game. You don’t have to be too mathy to figure that he’s now on pace for 48 catches.

Chris Carson will undoubtedly get 50 targets, which was Schotty’s target for him. He’ll certainly have a fine year as a receiver for the Seahawks. Carson’s 15 catches currently rank third on the team. I expect and fervently hope that DK Metcalf will overtake him by season’s end. Nothing against Carson, of course, but Metcalf is averaging three times the yardage. Now, if he can just get his catch rate anywhere near Carson’s excellent 88.2 percent, we’ll all be happy.

Speaking of catch rate, that’s one area in which Carson has a huge edge over Williams. I don’t have the target data for Williams’ first six seasons, but does list targets since 1992. Over his last four seasons, Williams was targeted 316 times and hauled in 207 of those. That gives him a catch rate of 65.5 percent.

dark. Next. Hawks defense will be special

To be fair, he did have those less-than sterling quarterbacks I already mentioned in his last two Seattle seasons. He then had Neil O’Donnell throwing to him in his final two seasons, both in Pittsburgh. Wow… I think I just realized why Williams retired. Anyway, Carson’s career catch rate is 85.7 percent. I don’t care how bad his quarterbacks were over the last four years. There’s no way that Williams was as efficient as Carson. Carson may not catch him, but he could still be better.