Hurricane Penny hit Seattle tonight.
After almost two seasons of streaky play, this year’s trade deadline ended with outright disappointment from many fans when Rashaad Penny wasn’t traded for the reported 3rd round pick that a rival GM baited the hook with. John Schneider didn’t bite, and the Seattle Seahawks’ 2018 first round running back stuck around - and repaid management’s trust in his potential.
Hurricane Penny blew out the windows and caved in the roof of the Minnesota Vikings’ fifth-ranked rushing defense on Monday Night Football, racking up over 100 yards combined rushing and receiving (often in the form of very short passes followed by runs), and two touchdowns to boot.
Even better, Chris Carson proved he’s still good, too, with over 100 yards rushing, a TD, and (blessedly) no fumbles: We’re not celebrating Penny eclipsing Carson, we’re celebrating the emergence of a legitimate 1-2 punch at the RB position. We dreamed of a thunder and lightning partnership in the backfield, and now it’s here.
My knocks against Penny have always been that he needs good blocking to get up to his (impressive) speed, and that when confronted with chaos at the line of scrimmage, he tends to have difficulty finding a way forward - hesitation that usually results in lost yardage. What Penny has shown in the last few contests is that he’s beginning to weld the holes in his game shut.
Penny has become noticeably more decisive at the line of scrimmage, committed to maintaining downhill momentum and taking “good enough” over holding out for “perfect.” And when he runs into contact...now he runs into contact. I don’t recall ever seeing so much fight in him before in terms of second efforts, pumping his feet, and generally refusing to quit.
When all these improvements are combined with better blocking from the o-line and Penny’s absurd top speed, which routinely makes defenders misjudge their tackling angles, it’s hard to be anything but optimistic about the future at that position. Even the most die-hard Carson fan should admit that Carson’s been given an unsustainable workload, and someone to share the burden and carry the rock downfield is a great thing. And that’s the worst case scenario for Penny with what he's now shown. The best case scenario? We’re seeing the emergence of a second true starting-caliber running back who, like Carson, is still on his rookie contract.
Rejoice, Seattle. Hurricane Penny is here, and wearing Seahawks colors.