On a play against the Patriots last Sunday, rookie running back C.J. Prosise gained 18 yards, a nice but unremarkable gain. So why do Seahawks players and coaches keep bringing it up?
RENTON — All things considered, it was a pretty ordinary play. A short pass. An open field. An 18-yard gain by rookie running back C.J. Prosise.
But that play has been raved about again and again this week. By Seahawks coach Pete Carroll on Monday. By offensive line coach Tom Cable on Wednesday. By running back Thomas Rawls on Thursday.
It’s a revealing play in many ways: an indication of what the Seahawks value, the importance of style, the issues that plagued recently released running back Christine Michael and part of the reason the Seahawks were pleased with Prosise’s first start last Sunday.
Prosise caught the pass against the Patriots, turned up the field, picked up a first down along the sideline and then faced a choice. Step out of bounds because it was pretty clear that defenders had cut off his path. Or lower his shoulder for no other reason than he could.
“I love the ball, he catches one right up the sidelines and he’s got a chance to step out of bounds or whatever and he laid wood to a guy,” Carroll said. “Our guys really respect that.”
“I’m going to tell you what play had me really fired up, and I know you’ve all seen it,” Rawls said. “He caught the ball, he ran toward the sideline and got physical and dropped his shoulder on the defender.”
“That’s the mentality,” Cable said. “You want to be smart as a football player, but I think a runner with the ball, when you have a chance to impose yourself on the other team, you do so.”
The Seahawks talk all the time on defense about defending every inch, every last blade of grass. It’s a cliché that’s become their last-stand mantra. But the same theme is important on offense.
“He was trying to make every inch he could,” Carroll said.
Prosise’s run sent the Seahawks’ sideline jumping. Defensive players screamed and yelled at Prosise across the field.
Two years ago, I tracked every Marshawn Lynch run just to see how many times he voluntarily stepped out of bounds. That season I found only one play in which he stepped out.
Last year, I did the same thing with Rawls after Rawls claimed he never stepped out of bounds. In 107 touches at the time, I never found one play in which he willingly stepped out.
But Lynch retired and Rawls missed most of the season because of an injury (He should return this Sunday against the Eagles). That left the job to Michael, who was more likely to step out of bounds and who struggled to stay on his feet and finish runs with contact.
So the reaction to Prosise’s run was a reaction to all of that: What the Seahawks had, what they want to have and what they’ve missed.
“That’s what brings the energy here,” Rawls said. “That physical style, that exciting feeling, because I’m going to tell you, when I did it, I know what it felt like and what it meant to him.”