The Seattle Seahawks running game finally woke up against the Carolina Panthers, with their running backs rushing for 150 yards on 29 carries (5.17 YPA). It was an extremely strong performance, but made even more impressive when you factor in the fact they were missing their starting tackles as well as right guard Phil Haynes. This is a Seattle team that despite having fantastic talent on the outside with the likes of DK Metcalf, Tyler Lockett, and Jaxon Smith-Njigba, is built to run the football. As a result, a performance like this was extremely encouraging and hopefully a sign of good things to come.
Not Devon Witherspoon related, but enjoy another rookie, Zach Charbonnet, truck Sam Franklin Jr. into Canada, pic.twitter.com/XEIHeDfocv— luke (@ColdWunz) September 28, 2023
After receiving just seven carries through the first two weeks of the season, the Seahawks second round pick finally made his presence felt. He rushed for 46 yards on nine carries, good for 5.1 yards per carry. His most notable tote though came on a 12 yard run when he announced his physicality as he ran through Panthers defender Sam Marshall and was nearly able to pound it into the end zone.
The most impressive part of this run for me though was the patience that he showed at the start. The Seahawks pull both their right guard Anthony Bradford and right tackle Jake Curhan with the intention of sealing the inside defenders. This in turn would allow Charbonnet to bounce it to the outside. The block from Curhan did not developly quick enough for Charbonnet to immediately get to the outside, which caused him to gear down and wait for Curhan to get to a Panthers defender. Once Curhan gets himself in a position to wall off the defender from coming down on Charbonnet, he explodes to the outside and does just enough to gain the edge. This turned it from being a gain of nothing to a 12 yard run.
Kenneth Walker lll
That move by Kenneth Walker III pic.twitter.com/jhlob43isX— DraftKings (@DraftKings) September 24, 2023
Kenneth Walker lll had his best game of the season rushing for 97 yards on 18 carries, which was just 10 yards fewer than he had in his first two games combined. This first run accounted for 36 of his yards, but it also showed why he is such an exciting back. It is a run that is intended to go to the inside, but because of some internal penetration he’s forced to slow it down and bounce it outside. Once Walker lll sets his eyes on the outside he takes a step and then hits the Panthers DB Troy Hill with a true ankle breaking move. Geno Smith helps Walker lll out as well as he gets in the way of another DB, which lets Walker lll truly break away for the big gain.
Kenneth Walker III is the real deal man— David Mendelson (@DMendy02) September 24, 2023
Too much Charbonnet talk this offseason on here pic.twitter.com/9ChlAHroqa
This is not an earth shattering run by Walker, but it is still a good combination of vision and patience. The run was designed to go to the inside, but because of a missed block from Noah Fant, Walker is forced to bounce it out. There are plenty of running backs in the league who simply would have followed Damien Lewis and picked up a few yards. But part of what makes Walker such a good red zone back is his ability to both see the space to the outside and the willingness/athleticism to take it.
It’s a small sample size, but Walker’s success rate (meaning his carries and the yards they gained relative to the down and distance) is already up to 55.3%. As a rookie, he was just under 40%, so early on the Seahawks rushing attack looks much more efficient than last year.