Position Preview – Runningbacks / Fullbacks

Position Preview – Runningbacks / Fullbacks

Alright, we started off with something of a victory lap looking at QBs, but here we move to a spot on the roster with a bit more depth and interest. We’re looking at Runningbacks and Fullbacks in this preview, where a lot of bodies are going to see the field for the Seahawks this season.

Runningbacks

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The big question the last few seasons has been “how long can Beast Mode keep this up?” in reference to his 4 consecutive seasons with 280+ carries. That question inevitably leads to another, which is the question of who is going to take some of that load away from Lynch’s very broad shoulders?

Marshawn Lynch – The Starter

Rush

Att

Rush

Yds

Avg

TD

Fum

Missed Tackles

Rec

Yds

TD

280

1306

4.7

13

1

88

37

367

4

Marshawn Lynch is really the man that makes the offense work for the Seahawks. Knowing you can pound it in for 4 quarters with a man who will pick up steam as others fall around him is an assett beyond measure. People do not want to have to tackle this man, and his legs keep moving until well after others would have quit.

Lynch is in the final year of his extension and it is possible that he will retire at the end of the season, however it is also possible that he will be playing for another extension. Either way, I do not question his desire or effort once he is on the field. I do wonder how much longer Beast Mode can keep up the punishment he takes with massive quantities of carries and really hard running every season. I hope early in the year his touches are slightly limited in order to be sure that he is fresh late, but that being said it hasn’t really been proven the man can wear down and some backs just need to be fed the rock.

If that isn’t enough, Lynch is a massively underrated pass catcher. Beast Mode is a threat as a 3 down back, and can punish a defense in many different ways.

That was a really long and somewhat meandering way of saying that our offense still runs through Lynch, who gets steady yardage, the occasional big play, and buys the play action space for Russell to throw his wonderful deep passes. As long as he is healthy, he is both the Seahawks starter and one of the very best RBs in the NFL.

Robert Turbin – The Steady Backup

Rush

Att

Rush

Yds

Avg

TD

Fum

Missed Tackles

Rec

Yds

TD

74

310

4.2

0

1

9

16

186

2

Let me tell you about former Seahawk Maurice Morris. Morris was the backup to a Pro Bowl Runningback in Shaun Alexander, and looked nice in that role. Morris always posted respectable yards per carry, made a solid receiver out of the backfield, and at times turned in games that made you wonder if maybe…just maybe…he could be more that just a backup. Then suddenly the call came for him to step up his role and suddenly you saw why he was the backup.

Robert Turbin, to me, is Maurice Morris 2.0. Turbin is a very steady backup for Pro Bowl RB Marshawn Lynch, carrying respectable numbers in the pass and run game and doing a very solid job. However, I feel if the burden were shifted to him he would be exposed just as Morris was. Turbin doesn’t have the speed to break away or the shiftiness and toughness to make a lot of misses (9 MT in 74 carries on the year) that is needed for a RB to truly carry the load. I love Turbin on our roster and think he has a place on this team for as long as his cost remains fairly low, but for the heir apparent to Beast Mode one ought to look elsewhere.

Christine Michael – The Flashy Backup

Rush

Att

Rush

Yds

Avg

TD

Fum

Missed Tackles

Rec

Yds

TD

34

175

5.1

0

1

8

1

12

0

Christine Michael is a very different story from Robert Turbin in my opinion. I am perplexed and maybe even worried a bit at the lack of time Michael has spent on the field since being drafted, but in that time I have seen flashes of what could be a starting calibur NFL runningback. Michael has some of the wiggle and toughness to get extra yardage (see: almost as many MTs as Turbin in half the carries), and at 221lbs his 5’10” frame is big enough to handle the abuse of the position.

There are two reasons the Seahawks drafted Michael in the 2nd round and played him so rarely these last 2 years. The first posibility is that they see him as the runningback of the future and want to keep his mileage and price tag down until such time as Beast Mode boards him Lamborguini and races off into the California sunset. That seems unlikely, but this front office does have a bit of that made scientist vibe.

The more likely reason for Christine Michael’s limited field time his first two seasons are that he was a draft pick with a lot of tools but was very raw. Michael played all 4 years at Texas A&M, but split duties in the backfield. A cracked tibia his sophomore year, a change in coaches before his senior season, and suddenly you have a picture that could show a very inexperienced senior RB. If that more likely scenario is the case, look for this to be something of a make or break year for Michael. His more explosive ability should allow him to bypass Turbin on the depth chart if his blocking, route running, and execution are up to par.

Rod Smith

UDFA Rod Smith has size (6-3, 231lbs) and High School Pedigree (4 star recruit), but his career at Ohio State never really got off the ground due to fumbling issues on the field and what sounds a lot like immaturity off the field. Smith wouldn’t be the first talented player to find success in the NFL after struggling in college, but at this point a practice squad invite would be a good outcome for him.

Thomas Rawls

Rawls was projected as a possible late round pick, and the Seahawks were able to sign him as a UDFA. He’s fighting for a roster spot, and is a bit undersized at 5’9″, but he had a productive college career in the MAC and the potential to be an effective single cut downfield runner.

Fullbacks

At the fullback position it is assumed that with Derrick Coleman healthy he will be the starter, however a big push by another player could certainly unseat him. Additionally, with the added depth at TE I could see a player like Cooper Helfet lining up in the backfield to allow versatility in play-calling on occasion.

Derrick Coleman – The Injured Incumbent

Rush

Att

Rush

Yds

Avg

TD

Fum

Missed Tackles

Rec

Yds

TD

0

0

0

0

0

0

2

29

1

A little over 5 weeks and 50 snaps into his season, a broken bone in his foot ended what was supposed to be Derrick Coleman’s big breakout season. Coleman looked much more comfortable and capable as a blocker and pass catcher in the system last year, and I think if all is right physically he is our best assett at the FB position. .

This preseason I will be watching to see how he handles his blocks and how he runs his routes to know if he has really recovered, and it will be his blocking that will decide if he is the #1 FB on this team or not.

Will Tukuafu – The Big Contender

Rush

Att

Rush

Yds

Avg

TD

Fum

Missed Tackles

Rec

Yds

TD

1

2

2

0

0

0

1

4

0

As you can see, Will Tukuafu’s role last year did not often involve the ball being in his hands. That being said, the mammoth (6-2, 280lbs) converted DL did add value with his blocking and held his own considering he was in the middle of changing postitions during an NFL season.

Tukuafu genuinely has a chance to unseat Derrick Coleman as the starting FB, and a crucial moment will be seeing in the preseason how comfortable he is in the schemes with a year of this offense under his large belt.

Brandon Cottom

Cottom was a little used RB at Purdue, but at his size (6-2, 262lbs) the Seahawks are giving him a look at FB. Looking at his career longs he does seem to have some big play ability, but there would have to be a reason he wasn’t used in college (one would think). Honestly, I have no idea what to expect from him and really look forward to seeing him play in the preseason. He’s one of those players you tune in late in a preseason game for the chance to just try and figure out.

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