Chris Carson was once known as a fumbler. These days, he’s more like the Tumbler. That was the name of the tank-like machine Batman blitzed through Gotham with in the Christopher Nolan flicks, and the Seahawks running back plays the part.
Tacklers to Carson are like an Escalade to a Hummer. Certainly no pushover, but hardly a match, either. His touchdown run against Carolina last week served as proof.
On second-and-four from the Panthers’ 16, Carson barreled over safety Tre Boston as though he were a bowling pin and to give Seattle what proved to be an insurmountable lead. He’d finish the day with a career-high 133 yards on 24 carries, and just as importantly — no fumbles.
Carson has never expressed any lack of self-assurance, but you have to think his confidence shed some pounds at some point. After three lost fumbles in his first three games — not to mention a fourth that was officially credited to Russell Wilson but was really more Carson’s fault — it would have been easy for doubt to creep in.
But since then, he has just one lost fumble, all the while racking up a career-high 1,190 yards. Perhaps that’s no surprise, though. After all …
Carson was once known as a 2017 seventh-round draft pick. These days, he’s more like a 2017 draft heist. He entered the weekend fourth in the NFL in rushing and tied for 10th in rushing touchdowns.
Seahawks coach Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider have earned a reputation for uncovering hidden gems — something Wilson (third round), K.J. Wright (fourth round), Richard Sherman (fifth round), Kam Chancellor (fifth round) and Doug Baldwin (undrafted) all attest to. But Carson bulldozed his way into the conversation as one of the brass’ greatest finds.
There was little reason to know he could be this productive as a 20-carry-a-game back. He barely averaged nine carries per game in his final season at Oklahoma State, but here he is as the frontman for the third-best running team in football, bruising defenders in the same fashion an old Beast-like running back used to for this team.
His six 100-yard games this season matched his total from last year. He seems to get better as the season progresses, too, as three of those 100-plussers last year came in the final three weeks, and two this year have come over the past three.
Seahawks right guard D.J. Fluker seemed almost offended last Sunday when asked if he’d ever seen Carson play like that.
“What?” Fluker said. “We see him play like that every day!”
As much as the MVP talk surrounded Wilson this season, the Seahawks never really chose to center their attack around him. The plan has always been run first — take care of the ball, win the war of attrition, and let No. 3 capitalize when he has the chance.
But you can’t execute that plan behind a ho-hum running back, as evidenced by 2017, when Carson lost his season to a Week-4 injury and Seattle missed the playoffs for the only time since 2011.
Perhaps there was some fear surrounding the Seahawks’ running game when Rashaad Penny went down with an ACL injury against the Rams two games ago. The second-year back had shown himself to be a worthy complement to Carson, and someone who could shoulder the load if Chris was fatigued.
But this past game against Carolina may have assuaged those fears, as Carson looked like a guy who doesn’t get fatigued.
Seattle is going to need everyone in a uniform to contribute over these next two games if they want to win the NFC West, earn a bye and potentially secure home-field advantage for the playoffs. And though Wilson will look to be supernatural, and the defense both dominant and disruptive, Carson has to display that productivity that earned him a trip to the Pro Bowl …
What? He didn’t make it? No way. It does make the column for next year easier, though.
Chris Carson was once known as a Pro Bowl snub.
Just wait and see.