Seahawks coach Pete Carroll on Wednesday suggested that the team will give Eddie Lacy the bulk of the work at tailback Sunday against Washington.
Seahawks coach Pete Carroll insisted Wednesday the trade for veteran left tackle Duane Brown was not in reaction to the anemic running performance Sunday against Houston, when Seattle was held to a season-low 33 yards on 21 carries, 30 of which came on four attempts from quarterback Russell Wilson.
He also insisted that performance, which tied the season-low of last season against Buffalo, was an outlier even if Seattle is just 21st in the NFL in rushing this week at 97.6 per game.
“You guys want maybe to make this big statement about last week,” Carroll said. “Last week was a lousy game for us on the line of scrimmage and the running game. I don’t think that’s how things are going or how it is. I just think that’s how it happened.”
Still, Carroll and the Seahawks have come to a conclusion as the season has neared its midway point and the running game remains one of the team’s biggest problems — that it’s time to give one running back the bulk of the carries and see what happens instead of trying to spread things out evenly among the team’s various tailbacks
And for this week, the beneficiary of that decision is Eddie Lacy.
“We’re going to start with Eddie and let him go a little bit and see where it goes from there,” said offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell after practice.
“Going to see a lot of Eddie this week,” Carroll said during his regular press conference before practice.
In fact, Carroll said that along with the Seahawks simply losing battles at the line of scrimmage last week and in other games recently, that the team may also have erred in not giving any of the running backs enough carries to really show what they can do. That’s been particularly true statistically since the loss of rookie Chris Carson against Indianapolis in the fourth game.
Carson had a season-high 20 attempts for 93 yards in a win over San Francisco in the second game of the season as he had begun to establish himself as the feature back.
Otherwise, no Seattle tailback has had more than 12 carries in a game, with Lacy and Thomas Rawls never getting more than 11 in any one game.
“I don’t feel like we have been in a rhythm,” Carroll said. “I think I’ve held them back a little bit by spreading it around quite a bit and trying to figure that out. So as we zero in the second half (of the season) hopefully we are going to make some headway.”
Offensive line coach Tom Cable echoed Carroll’s sentiments that the Seahawks want to commit to one running back as the feature back and see if giving Lacy extended time will help revive the running game.
“We’ve always tried to do that (establish one running back),” Cable said. “So maybe we have gotten lost in ourselves a little bit, too. But yes, we want to get cleaner blocking first and foremost, and get a runner established.”
Asked if he’d like to see Lacy get a chance to be “that featured guy” Carroll said. “We’ll see. Yeah. Would love for that happen.”
Lacy, signed to a one-year contract worth up to $4.25 million, has had five, 11, nine, 11 and six carries in the five games he has played for the Seahawks this season having been inactive against the 49ers and not seeing action in week three against Tennessee. For the season he has 108 yards on 42 carries, a career-low 2.6 per attempt for the season (his best game came against the Colts when he had 52 yards on 11 carries)
Last Sunday against Houston, Lacy had six carries for no yards.
By contrast, Lacy had no fewer than 11 carries in each of the five games he played for Green Bay last season with a high of 17 in rushing for 360 yards on the season and an average per carry of 5.1 before being sidelined with a broken ankle.
Lacy said Wednesday he hadn’t been told that the Seahawks might make him the feature back this week.
But he said that getting few carries and getting them sporadically has made it more difficult to run the way he has in the past.
“It’s kind of hard to go in and come out and go in and come out because you never really establish a rhythm,” Lacy said. “So if that changes at some point I don’t know. But in order to get going you definitely need to find a rhythm … You’re never really in long enough to establish anything so just in and out a lot. So kind of hard to establish that.”
Rawls has had similar usage all season getting five, zero, eight, 11 and six carries in the five games for which he has been active, gaining 59 yards on 30 carries for the season.
As for why the team appears for now to have picked Lacy over Rawls as the tailback to feature there could be a couple of factors, including that the team made a significant financial investment in him and may want to finally just try to commit for a little while to getting something out of it.
For another, Lacy has a lot more experience in a starting and feature back role than Rawls, having started 48 games in four seasons with Green Bay, and the Seahawks may similarly have decided to commit to Lacy for a game or two and see if he can produce in the same way he did with the Packers.
“My want is to see him as the finisher in the second half going forward where he can establish that size and that strength,” Cable said. “And he has the power. He brings power. He brings a guy that’s done it, who has a ton of carries and I just think sometimes those backs, they’ve got to see it enough to really get kind of wired in.”
Rawls also has struggled even more than Lacy not only in running but dropping a touchdown pass last week and a screen pass the previous week against the Giants when he also lost a fumble.
The team also knows it can go back to Rawls — who thrived as a rookie in 2015 when he was the backup to Marshawn Lynch and became the starter when Lynch was injured — if Lacy falters.
For now, it’s Lacy’s ball to take and run with as far as he can.