clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Shaun Alexander: Nature or nurture?

An age-old debate, with "age" defined as 15 years

Since the beginning of time*, Seattle Seahawks fans have crossed spears over how much of Shaun Alexander’s immense success was due to his talent, and how much was due to the talent surrounding him.


Today we answer that question once and for all, with finality and closure** for everyone. So say we all.


See? You already feel better, liberated at the prospect of being enlightened/having your confirmation bias confirmed. Now take this newfound inner peace and spread it like wildfire among your immediate circle, so it can encompass this great land, and cover it like a benevolent virus, until finally the entire planet is engulfed in practical knowledge and profound understanding, leading at last to the culmination of human society, the moment when our coded petty, greedy, tribal reflexes are permanently overwritten with compassion, empathy, and something resembling a living, breathing golden rule.***

***actually do this though

Before saving the world — a stat or two, cause that’s what we do.

2000-2006 seasons

Alexander: 1 TD every 20.5 carries, 4.43 yds/att

All other Seattle backs: 1 TD every 82.7 carries, 4.28 yds/att

The difference in yards per carry is insignificant enough to be immaterial. Especially because “all other Seattle backs” includes not just Ricky Watters, but also people like Mack Strong and Maurice Morris and Heath Evans and assorted stuff.

The offensive line blocking in front of Alexander was Hall of Famey. Walter Jones is in already, Steve Hutchinson has a chance, and their presence makes it more complicated to tease out the RB’s talent. Many backs would have succeeded behind that line. Succeeded as much as Shaun? “Unclear, the answer is” - Yoda

Now, the difference in touchdowns is the opposite of insignificant. Granted, other backs were getting garbage time carries and third-down draws (the Holmgren special, to Strong, you know it) — but Alexander scored four times as often as anyone else. Not by volume; he scored four times as often by rate.

It’s difficult, but certainly possible, to ascribe the TD difference solely to in-game usage. The gap could also easily speak to his ability to elude people at the second level, or to his coach’s reluctance to call anyone else’s number in the red zone. The difference is striking, but does it mean anything? That’s for you to collectively decide, for Yoda’s sake, and ours too, on the journey to planet-saving discernment and mindfulness and enlightenment. Don’t forget about the discernment and mindfulness and enlightenment.


Was Shaun Alexander more a transcendent talent, or more a product of his talented offensive line?

This poll is closed

  • 7%
    A transcendent talent, definitely, who would have succeeded behind any offensive line
    (95 votes)
  • 55%
    He had significant talent but the OL helped a fair amount too
    (674 votes)
  • 17%
    About equal parts each
    (208 votes)
  • 17%
    He had some talent but when push came to shove, the line’s excellent play was more of a factor
    (213 votes)
  • 2%
    Almost completely a product of that Hall of Famer-populated OL
    (33 votes)
1223 votes total Vote Now