How many starting running backs did Seattle use this year? 12, 13? Oh, my bad, just four. That’s only the beginning of the strange story of the Seahawks backfield this season.
It speaks volumes about the craziness of 2021 that Seattle’s designated lead back, Chris Carson, only got four starts before he was shut down for the year. He made the most of his carries, although it would be nice if the coaches ever gave him more than 16 in a game. You may have noticed a theme here…
The first man up was a player the Hawks cut from training camp in 2018, despite leading the team in rushing during the preseason that year. Alex Collins battled injuries almost from the moment he got the nod, though, and wound up on IR as well. The injuries slowed him as the season progressed, but he did manage to get the first 100-yard game by a Seattle back since 2019. Notably, he would not be the last. Far from it.
The Seahawks running back carousel was just getting started
The next starter was a player the Hawks signed just days before giving him the starting assignment. No 12s, I am not kidding. Adrian Peterson joined the practice squad, was activated, then given the starting nod against the Niners all in a span of five days. While he only ran for 16 yards, he did score a key touchdown – at this point in the season, they were all key touchdowns. More importantly, he had a huge influence on the man who eventually carried the rock for the Hawks.
That would be Mr. Rashaad Penny. I don’t feel remotely comfortable addressing the man without some form of honorific. After the season he had – a season he basically had in six weeks – he deserves it. I wrote that Penny was facing a crossroads with the Seahawks – in the preseason of 2020. In the first 10 weeks of 2021, he did very little to show that Seattle should have exercised the option year on his contract. You can be sure they wish they had that chance again.
All Penny did with the starting gig – after the arrival and advice of AP – was go off for 671 yards in five games. He only had 39 yards vs the Rams, but he also only had 11 carries. Hmmm…who made that decision? Anyway, Penny averaged 7.3 yards per carry in those last five games, scored six touchdowns, and give his best BeastMode impersonation several times.
While neither got a start, we can’t overlook the contributions of DeeJay Dallas and Travis Homer. They combined for just 54 carries but had 315 yards and three touchdowns. They were also the main targets for Russell Wilson out of the backfield with 37 catches for 294 yards. Penny was third in receptions in the group with nine. Of the Seahawks’ 5,889 yards of offense, the pair of third-down specialists contributed over 10 percent of it. Only Tyler Lockett, DK Metcalf, and Penny had more yards from scrimmage than the pair of late-round picks.
Where this leads the Seahawks backfield next season is anybody’s guess. Chris Carson’s health is a major concern. And I mean for his quality of life, not simply if he can come back and be the same player. Rashaad Penny is a free agent, since the Hawks – wisely at the time – didn’t exercise the fifth-year option on his contract. Alex Collins battled injuries, and Adrian Peterson still wants to play, although he clearly is no longer a starting RB in the NFL. Both are free agents. Could we see a Dallas/Homer backfield duo in 2022? We could, but my money is on the 12s finally getting to see the Carson/Penny duo we’ve been craving since – well, since forever.