Update: Jason La Canfora is reporting that White is facing a four-game suspension. That doesn't surprise me. Not the particulars, but this move was too sudden to be caused by quality of play--quality of practice. It doesn't matter to me why White was cut, only that he has been. It usually takes an injury to displace an entrenched starter, and taking White out of the equation improves the chances of the best backs getting carries.
And here I was just writing about Kevin Vickerson*.
This is good news. In my opinion, Seattle releasing LenDale White is good news. White has always been more prominent than productive, and that prominence and association with good teams, better complementary running backs have long given White the veneer of stardom. He's not. His problem isn't weight. White's problem is that he isn't a very good running back.
Perhaps most telling about White is his career success rate: 38.3%. That's an unacceptable total for a big back running behind an excellent offensive line. Success should be White's bread and butter. It's not. White doesn't accelerate well, doesn't hit the hole hard and doesn't have the vision to make up for those deficiencies. He also isn't shifty, isn't a great blocker and provides nothing of value as a receiver. He's bad, has been bad since entering the league, and save for superficial counting stats, is a player of almost no distinction.
So he's gone now, and Seattle is much more likely to field a good rushing attack because of his departure. The upshot, the speculative upshot given the timing and recent quotes about Justin Forsett, is maybe Pete Carroll and Alex Gibbs recognize what they have in the shifty little power back and slot Force as Seattle's feature back. Forsett, Julius Jones and Leon Washington is a good stable of backs. It's better for losing its biggest name.
*Kevin Vickerson is commonly thought of as the throw-in of the Lendale White trade. Well, he's not. He's the prize. The quick and dirty on Vickerson is that he was a good defensive end prospect that signed with the Michigan State Spartans during the time that program was collapsing. Straight from the team site:
- Was a four-year letterman at Michigan State and played in 44 games, totaling 113 tackles, 24.5 stops for loss, 8.5 sacks and a pair of blocked kicks.
- Started 11 games as a senior and amassed career-highs with 46 tackles, 10.5 stops for loss and 4.5 sacks.
Max Unger started at center in week 17 and Vickerson knocked him around pretty good. That doesn't say a whole lot, but it's better than the reverse. Actually it's not, now that I think of it, but hardly unexpected. Vickerson isn't barrel-chested and solid looking like Colin Cole, but he's quicker, more agile and more explosive. Vickerson offers something as a pass rusher and something is better than Cole.
Vickerson is a project player that is starting to produce. He's still more talented than good. Vince Lombardi said, "Coaches who can outline plays on a black board are a dime a dozen. The ones who win get inside their player and motivate." That's pretty much where Seattle stands with Vickerson. I'm not questioning his work ethic per se, but it's hard not to watch Vickerson and think he could be better than he is. Big men with his power and moves are very rare indeed. Rarer still are those that can harness their talent.