Our latest Seahawks mailbag examines the futures of some young running backs and whether the team is really not all that good at screen passes.
Time to get to a few more questions from Twitter — and this time we will delve outside the realm of just the kicking position.
And as always, you can throw more my way at @bcondotta.
Q: @Hirschi04 asks: Do you think they’ll keep (J.D.) McKissic? And do you think (Alex) Collins will get more chances? He has huge upside and can handle the work.
A: The Seahawks actually don’t have to do anything to keep McKissic contractually as he is under contract through the 2017 season. So expect him to come to camp and compete for a spot in the backfield.
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McKissic, a rookie from Arkansas State, undoubtedly opened some eyes with his performance down the stretch after being claimed off of waivers from Atlanta on Dec. 20. A college receiver, Seattle used him also as a running back and he had one carry for three yards and a reception for five yards in the playoff game against the Falcons after having two receptions for 18 yards in the regular season finale against the 49ers.
McKissic also has a lengthy history as a returner and Seattle will want some depth in that role with Tyler Lockett coming off his season-ending broken tibia and fibula (Lockett is expected to be ready for the start of the season, but the Seahawks will want some options to take some of the work load off of him, if necessary).
McKissic seems to project as a player who could be a third-down running back-type, a role where Seattle will also want some depth behind C.J. Prosise.
As for Collins, he also showed some promising signs in the final month after struggling to find his NFL sea legs early on. Coach Pete Carroll said one key for Collins was getting in better shape and losing a little weight as the season wore on.
After playing sparingly the first 14 games Collins had 83 yards on 14 carries in the final two regular season games and then another 27 yards on eight carries in the post-season along with catching eight passes for 51 yards in those four games.
I think the plan for the Seahawks heading into next season is still for Thomas Rawls to be the number one tailback and for Prosise — who should be fully ready to go for OTAs and mini-camp — to be the lead third-down back and serve as a complementary option to Rawls as an early-down back.
But if Collins continues to play as he did at the end of this season I’d think they’ll find a role for him, as well.
Still, given the health issues that plagued Seattle’s tailback spot this season, I’d also expect the Seahawks to add a running back or two via free agency or the draft.
Q: @KingFridays asks: The screen pass could help take some pressure of Russell Wilson. Hawks are one of the worst at it. Why are they not more effective?
A: Certainly, the eye test on screens to running backs make it seem as if the Seahawks don’t always do it real well, though I wish I could find some stats to back that up — if anyone knows of a breakdown of screen pass effectiveness in the NFL, let me know. Without numbers to really compare the Seahawks with other teams, I’m a little hesitant to just flat-out say they are bad at it, even if anecdotally it’s fair to say that screens to running backs didn’t seem like their best play last season.
It’s worth remembering again all the injuries that hit the running back spot last year and made it hard for the offense to ever get into a real rhythm in terms of its backfield — screens might look a lot better with a whole season of Rawls and Prosise, for instance. And in 2015 Seattle was largely relying on in-season pickup Fred Jackson for its third-down/two-minute running back role and then dealing with injuries to Marshawn Lynch and Rawls.
The Seahawks would also likely argue that they do throw a lot of screens to help Wilson get going — just not always to running backs.
Seattle throws a lot of receiver screens to the likes of Doug Baldwin, Jermaine Kearse and Lockett (to which, judging by my Twitter feed, is often to the consternation of fans), plays they often favor early in games to get Wilson a few easy completions as well as make defenses that they see playing tight against the run loosen up a little.
And despite all the issues with the offense this season, Wilson’s completion percentage of 64.7 was the second-highest of his career and tied for 12th in the NFL.
The only QBs who had both a higher completion percentage than Wilson as well as a higher yards per attempt average than Wilson’s 7.73 were Matt Ryan, Tom Brady, Kirk Cousins, Dak Prescott and Drew Brees.