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2006 Season Review: Shaun Alexander

As a writer, Shaun Alexander is easily the least fun player on the Seahawks to write about. Quite simply, what can I say that hasn't already been said about the Hawks' superstar? Further, almost any logical projection of Shaun's 2007 will be considered pessimistic by most Hawk fans. So instead of tearing my hair out trying to think of an original perspective on Alexander, or shoot sunshine up your skirt about a return to form for our once great back, here are, instead, some simple bullet points.

  • Alexander became the latest in a long line of running backs that suffered injury after topping 370 regular season carries in the preceding season. The good news is that it wasn't his knee. The bad news is that it was his foot--an injury that can be similarly debilitating. Recent reports indicate Alexander's foot is never likely to fully heal, but that the crack in his foot, as it is now, shouldn't affect his play.
  • Easily the most infuriating moment of last season was watching Alexander get 40 carries against the Green Bay Packers. It was his first game back from injury and the total bested his previous career high in carries by five. Over the next two contests Alexander averaged under 3.5 ypc against the Broncos' and Cardinals. Holmgren, and indeed most coaches, love the workhorse rusher--not just because some sort of jugheaded loyalty or tradition, but because it helps disguise play calling. Still, the Hawks must be able to effectively split carries between Alexander and Maurice Morris in the coming season. An ideal split would be something like 250 for Alexander and 150 for Morris--Or, as I'll explain in a second, 50 for Alexander, 25 for Morris and 325 for Mewelde Moore.
  • As I pointed out last season, Alexander's continuing decline receiving the ball doesn't bode well for his rushing future. In the next few years, Alexander will either solidify a Hall of Fame career or see a precipitous decline and be out of the league or relegated to backup duties. His receiving numbers would seemingly indicate the later. Rushers who have been able to retain effectiveness into their thirties, like Priest Holmes, Curtis Martin, Warrick Dunn and Tiki Barber, have also maintained effectiveness receiving. Generally, the pattern is first a player's reception numbers begin to decline over a number of years, in this span he will have his career year rushing before eventually losing effectiveness entirely. Alexander looks to be at the end-phase of that arc and it wouldn't be surprising if he was the worst starting running back in the division come next season. In fact, it would be surprising if he wasn't. Alexander's receiving numbers are embarrassingly bad and he's already had a career year rushing and lost the following season to injury. Seattle fans will hear a lot about a return to superstardom for Alexander in 2007, but if he's simply able to be a competent starter, we should all be relieved.
  • Truthfully, the Hawks are in desperate need of another running back. Morris' receiving numbers are as bad as Alexander's and neither should be expected to be much better than league average in 2007. The good news is that each season some team or teams cut a running back that has the ability to be a good rusher. This year, it looks like it might be Mewelde Moore. Moore has been awesome in the passing game and a very good rusher when given opportunities. Minnesota, clearly not a fan of winning, decided to pass on Brady Quinn and instead drafted Adrian Peterson. That puts Moore now behind both Peterson and Chester Taylor, with Ciatrick Fason around for depth. Moore is only 25 (football age, i.e. he'll be 25 at the start of the season) and not only could he contribute to the 2007 Hawks, but at a bargain price and without using a draft pick could give the Hawks a franchise back for the future. If come June 1st Moore is available, he represents a must sign for Seattle.