PITTSBURGH, PA - SEPTEMBER 18: Justin Forsett #20 of the Seattle Seahawks carries the ball against the Pittsburgh Steelers during the game on September 18, 2011 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The Steelers defeated the Seahawks 24-0. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
I wanted to take a minute to talk about the running back situation because there's been a few comments lately that point to the idea of trading Justin Forsett. The Seahawks have three solid options at the position and we all know how much John Schneider values those mid to late round draft picks.
So here's what we got:
Marshawn Lynch is your 'feature' back, meaning he'll get the bulk of the carries on first and second down and is listed as your 'starting' running back.
He's a bow-legged, crazy mo-fo and he'll run through most arm tackles and even some wrap up tackles. He's good at keeping his pad level low and always falling forward. His detractors would say he's too eager to initiate contact and he doesn't have that third gear for the breakaway type of speed. I've noticed he seems to dance around a little bit behind his blockers and I'd like to see him show more decisiveness as he hits the hole. (Snicker)
He's not super in the pass game. If I remember correctly, he's had at least three dropped passes this year already so he's not an every down type of guy and he's not dependable for dumpoffs and as an outlet receiver. He's also in the last year of his contract.
Leon Washington is, in my opinion, the team's most talented and explosive running back and also the guy that's most suitable for the zone blocking scheme we run. I'm going to break down his 20+ yard run from last week's game in a post in the next day or two, but what you get from Leon is that short area burst where he sees a hole and hits it hard. By the time the defense knows what hit them, he's into the secondary. He has that third gear that if he gets past the linebackers and it's a footrace between him and the safeties, he'll have an advantage.
He's also good on dumpoffs and, theoretically, screens. The problem with this of course is that the Seahawks are forever incapable of running a successful screen for some maddening reason. Washington is good in the return game and a solid leader. He's not going anywhere.
Justin Forsett is a bit of a combination of Lynch and Washington. He's more explosive than Lynch, but he runs with a power style that you'd expect from a bigger back. He's a between the tackles kind of player as well. He breaks tackles and is good in the passing game. His main specialty is in pass protection and blitz pickups though, and that's why you'll see him in on third downs instead of Leon. He's sort of the lunch-pail guy for the Seahawks backfield and is a fan favorite.
He's a good leader -- he was the ringleader for the Seahawks' offseason lockout workouts, but in terms of skill set, he's expendable. Or so it seems anyway. It's tough to get him carries when he's third in the food chain, but he still does have value, and could be worth something to running back needy teams. My guess is that he probably wouldn't fetch more than a 6th rounder or something, but I wouldn't put it out of the realm of possibility that the Seahawks would shop him.
With Lynch and Washington in front of Forsett, Vai Taua on the practice squad, and Thomas Clayton on speed dial, the Seahawks theoretically have some options. I did find the amount of churn and focus that was put on the running back situation during training camp interesting -- Clayton was brought in, Chase Reynolds was given a look, Taua was brought in and dropped several times -- so you have to think they're looking for that depth.
Washington is locked up for several years. Lynch is in the last year of his contract but Forsett isn't a back-up option to Lynch, or shouldn't be, in my opinion. I could see the Seahawks drafting a RB in next year's draft and if you believe the rumors that floated around during draft time that someone on the Seahawks' staff was really campaigning for the selection of Alabama running back Mark Ingram with their first round pick, then you have to deduce that the Seahawks do value an upgrade at the position.
So what does all this mean? Nothing really. It means the Seahawks have done a good job of building depth at the position and it means that there is a possibility of trading Justin Forsett. I haven't seen anything credible out there saying that he is being shopped, but sometimes these trades come out of nowhere. We're in the part of the season where these trades start getting made though as injuries rack up, so it's something to keep in the back of your mind.
I basically just wanted to open it up for discussion here: what are your thoughts on the Seahawks' backfield and how they've performed so far. Have they been what you expected? Better? Worse?