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Chris Carson is having his best season despite limited opportunities with the ball

Seattle Seahawks v Philadelphia Eagles Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

Chris Carson progressed in three areas this season; only two of them for the better. The Seattle Seahawks lead running back is having his best season yet, or at least he would be if not for his foot injury and his coaching staff.

In the final year of Carson’s rookie deal, efficiency is up, fumbles are down, and most damning, the injury bug is back.

However, he’s not been allowed to showcase just how good he’s become.

Start with the obvious: Carson has one fumble on 87 rushing attempts in 2020. Almost anything would have been an improvement over 2019’s disaster, but it’s even better than his 82 attempts per fumble in 2018. He’s put in noticeable work in this area.

Unfortunately, Carson is putting in some of his best numbers, while Russell Wilson struggles mightily to find consistency, and this bewildering coaching staff continues to run Carlos Hyde and Co. at least as often as Carson.

Only once in his career has Chris Carson had consecutive games with a 5.0 Yards per Attempt or better. It was the final three-game stretch of 2019 before he was injured.

This year? He’s now done five games in a row. However, the Seahawks lost two of those games, while giving him under 10 carries in three of them, and this stretch covers both before and after his foot injury. His broken tackle pace is not as elite as usual, but he’s not had full games to bully people. In almost every other facet his game is as good as ever, even improved. His skills as a receiver have been important this year as well, as he already has four of his seven career receiving touchdowns in just half of this season.

Also, not sure if this counts as three broken tackles against one dude but...

What’s more, this might even be a better running team than recent years in Seattle. At least, a couple of indicators point to that. Carson’s up to 2.6 Yards Before Contact this year, ahead of both 1,000 yard seasons and a huge jump from 1.8 YBC last year. Unless you’re Trent Richardson or Mark Sanchez, YBC often has more to do with the scheme and offensive line than the back. Once the decision has been made and the gap has been hit, Carson’s skills are as sharp as ever. His 2.3 Yards After Contact are at career average.

Conspiracy theorists may jump in and point out how painfully slow the team has eased Carson back from injury in a contract year, arguing the potential to diminish his value for a cheaper return. This is weak for a couple of reasons, but primarily because Pete Carroll is just so terribly bad at thinking this way. He barely understood earlier questions this year about Carson’s upcoming contract, and apparently doesn’t process players making business decisions all that naturally.

More likely, it’s another cog in the jumbled mess that has become the obvious mismanagement of any Let Russ Cook mindset. The team has become so pass-heavy it’s unrecognizable to fans and incredibly recognizable to opposing defenses.

The four missed games are incredibly unfortunate. But even more, this team needs to let Carson do more (he’s not had 20 carries once this year) to win these games. Even against the NFC East. The Seahawks have never had Carson in a deep playoff run, and that is even more important.

Seems like the offense gave it their best blowing the roof off with Russell Wilson. It was very exciting.

But this is squarely in the middle of Chris Carson’s best years, and he’s the one player who might be able to jump start this offense back into form, giving Pete Carroll the balance he desperately claims to desire.