Seattle took its fair share of heat for relying too much on the run during the 2018 season.
Though the Seahawks rode its league-leading ground game to a return to the postseason, Seattle was undone by handing it off to its backs too often on early downs in the wild-card loss to Dallas.
Seahawks offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer is determined to correct that behavior in 2019, not by taking the ball of his backs’ hands but by getting it to them differently, Chris Carson in particular.
“That’s something we went to right after the season ended, we said hey look, Chris can help us win in a lot of ways,” the offensive coordinator said Tuesday. “One of the ways that he wasn’t last year was in the passing game.
“We need to get that number (his targets) up around the 50s, (that) would be a great situation for us. So he’s still getting his yards on the ground and he’s still helping in the passing game.”
Whereas some of the top young running backs in the league are equally asked to do and adept at doing both, Seattle’s lead tailbacks have not been major factors in the passing game. In 2018, Mike Davis led the team with 42 targets (29th in NFL); he now plays for Chicago. Meanwhile, Carson had just 24 targets (54th) and Rashaad Penny had 12 targets (81st).
Citing James White (123, second) and Alvin Kamara (105, fourth) as dual-threat success stories, Schottenheimer elaborated on how he’d like Seattle to benefit from the pass-catching starter back “trend” around the league.
“People are understanding that getting the ball to your backs in space in the passing game is a good thing because they’re still elusive as they are running the ball,” the Seahawks OC added. “So when you get the ball to them out in space in the passing game, it’s the same problem for the defense. They got to still make those plays out in space on really good athletes.”
Schottenheimer has piloted offenses in the past where RBs have been targeted heavily. His Jets offenses targeted Leon Washington 61 times in 2008, LaDainian Tomlinson 79 times in 2010 and Tomlinson 61 times in 2011. With the Rams, Schottenheimer targeted Steven Jackson 53 times in 2012 and Benny Cunningham 52 times in 2014. In short, he’s done this before.
Between the departed Davis and the retired Doug Baldwin, there are 115 targets from last season up for grabs in Seattle. Most of those will likely go to the rookie receiver DK Metcalf, who is making an early positive impression despite an uneven preseason opener. But Carson figures to be the secondary beneficiary here.
After his breakout season on the ground in 2018 (1,151 yards, 9 TDs), will Carson become the league’s next great dual-threat back in 2019?