2006 Seahawks Player Analysis: The RBs

With the Seahawks' 2006 training camp just a few days away, Seahawks.NET will take a player-by-player look at the current roster over the next week. Everyone will be profiled, from future Hall-of-Famers to roleplayers on the bubble. We continue with the running backs.

HALFBACKS

Shaun Alexander
Ht/Wt: 5’11”/225 Yr: 7 Age: 28 Alabama

RUSHING

Year

Team

G

GS

Att

Yards

Avg

Lg

TD

20+

FD

2005

SEA

16

16

370

1880

5.1

88

27

14

107

CAREER

 

96

76

1717

7817

4.6

88

89

57

405

How do you spell MVP?

In one of the greatest single years ever enjoyed by any running back, Alexander posted the numbers above, breaking the single-season touchdown record and winning the NFL rushing title, while sitting out quite a few garbage-time 4th quarters as the Seahawks cruised to their 13-3 regular-season schedule - 2,000 yards wasn’t at all out of the question. Of course, any more carries for #37 would have been courting disaster, but we’ll get to that later. For the first time in the 30-year history of the franchise, the Seahawks have a running back who can make fans dream of all-time historical comparisons.

In 2005, Alexander became the only player in NFL history to score at least 15 total touchdowns in five consecutive seasons, and only the 4th player in NFL history to score at least 20 touchdowns in consecutive years (2004-2005). He already ranks 12th all-time in rushing touchdowns (89), and he holds every significant rushing record in Seahawks history. Add in his 11 receiving scores, and his next regular season touchdown will tie him with Steve Largent for the most in team annals (101).

He’s done all of this while never missing a game.

Alexander had more total touchdowns than 8 teams in the NFL. With 4 rushing touchdowns against both Arizona and Houston , he became only the second player in NFL history to rush for 4 touchdowns twice in a season. He is one of only 5 players in NFL history to rush for back-to-back 1,600 yard seasons. He rushed for 100 yards in a club record and career-high 11 games including a career-high 6 games with at least 140 yards.

The five most comparable seasons to Alexander’s 2005, according to Football Outsiders’ Similarity Scores, are Terrell Davis’ 1998, Alexander’s own 2004, Emmitt Smith’s 1995, Ahman Green’s 2003 and Earl Campbell’s 1980 – five of the greatest running back seasons of all time.

As Mike Holmgren continues a very effective offensive attack surprisingly led by the running game (in both 2004 and 2005, the Seahawks ran the ball 52.3% of the time, and if you know Holmgren’s history, that IS surprising), Alexander has been the engine that makes the thing go. His 8-year, $62 million contract, signed after the 2005 season, shouldn’t concern anyone – Alexander doesn’t seem the type to lie down and get lazy with career money. He is a keen student of history, and a very sensitive observer of his own historical value – witness his reaction to missing the 2004 rushing title by one yard. What should concern people is the idea that he’s been such a large part of the equation over the last two seasons, and what might happen to the team if his remarkable durability becomes an issue, and an alternate plan is not in place.

2006 Outlook: The number is 370, and Alexander’s right on the break. Backs who tote the rock more than 370 times in a season tend to enjoy the durability of Tiny Tim in a tackling drill thereafter. Davis, Smith, Green and Campbell have all suffered their own negative reactions to this overuse, and it’s safe to say that Mike Holmgren probably wants to be a little more judicious with his primary offensive investment over the next couple of years. That could mean more screens to Alexander (better to be tackled by a DB, no?) or seeing Mo Morris and Leonard Weaver in the mix in certain situations, or a more pass-friendly attack overall. Alexander will get good numbers no matter what, but the potential for physical crash-and-burn, and the departure of uber-guard Steve Hutchinson, are two potential shadows on the horizon.


Maurice Morris
Ht/Wt: 5’11”/205 Yr: 5 Age: 25 Oregon

RUSHING

Year

Team

G

GS

Att

Yards

Avg

Lg

TD

20+

FD

2005

SEA

16

2

71

288

4.1

49

1

1

17

CAREER

 

58

3

171

806

4.7

49

1

3

42

Another reason you’d think that Morris might find himself more in the mix in 2006 is the fact that he re-signed with the Seahawks in the offseason, inking a new three-year deal. After the team took a look at Miami’s Sammy Morris, they decided to stick with their long-time backup. Morris is “lightning” to Alexander’s “thunder”, at least in size – he’s more a shifty, Brian Westbrook-type back than a straight downhill runner. He’s better as a pass-catcher out of the backfield than Alexander, and he’s ironically a better fit for a prototype West Coast offense, yet another indicator of just how much Mike Holmgren has adjusted his offense to Alexander’s talents.

2006 Outlook: This is the year you might indeed see more of Maurice Morris – both to keep Alexander fresh, and perhaps also to shake up the looks Seattle’s offense gives opposing defenses. There are concerns about the ability of anyone Morris’ size to ever stand up to the punishment a starting running back must take, but he’s a valuable and versatile change of pace, and he could spell Alexander in the starting eleven for a short time if the unthinkable happens.


Josh Scobey
Ht/Wt: 5’11.5”/218 Yr: 5 Age: 25 Kansas State

RUSHING

Year

Team

G

GS

Att

Yards

Avg

Lg

TD

20+

FD

2005

SEA

16

0

0

0

---

0

0

0

0

CAREER

43

0

27

89

3.3

10

0

0

7

NOTE: The Seahawks’ primary kick returner in 2005, Scobey amassed no rushing yards and will be featured in our Special Teams player analysis.


Marquis Weeks
Ht/Wt: 5’10”/216 Yr: R Age: 25 Virginia

RUSHING

Year

Team

G

GS

Att

Yards

Avg

Lg

TD

20+

FD

2005

SEA

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

CAREER

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

One thing not a lot of people know about Weeks is that in his senior season at Virginia, he started every game at safety after playing tailback through 2003. He led all Virginia safeties in tackles and displayed improvement through the season. He also shone as a special teamer, and his versatility could keep him in Seattle, where he signed as an undrafted free agent in April of 2005. He was named to the practice squad in September after failing to survive the final cuts.

2006 Outlook: Weeks could find himself as a special teams option. He signed a two-year contract with the Seahawks in February.


Jimmy Dixon
Ht/Wt: 6’1”/230 Yr: R Age: 24 Georgia Tech

RUSHING

Year

Team

G

GS

Att

Yards

Avg

Lg

TD

2004

Georgia Tech

12

12

2

1

.5

1

0

CAREER

40

24

26

83

3.2

11

4

Dixon is a hybrid who can play both running back and fullback in the West Coast system. An accomplished receiver out of the backfield, Dixon spent his first two seasons with the Yellowjackets as a running back and his last two as a fullback. He sat out last year after not getting picked up following the 2005 NFL Draft.

2006 Outlook: It’s conceivable that Dixon will get some work during the first two preseason games in August, as he hopes to show enough promise that he could be picked up and signed by another team. Dixon has some accomplished competition in the Seahawks backfield and something would have to go very wrong for him to be on the final roster.


FULLBACKS

Mack Strong
Ht/Wt: 6’0”/238 Yr: 13 Age: 34 Georgia

RUSHING

Year

Team

G

GS

Att

Yards

Avg

Lg

TD

20+

FD

2005

SEA

16

6

17

78

4.6

16

0

0

7

CAREER

180

92

193

741

3.8

21

4

2

76

After a long career of relative anonymity outside of the Pacific Northwest, Strong was finally rewarded with a Pro Bowl appearance following his 12th season with the only team he has played for – the Seattle Seahawks. Strong paved the way for the league’s leading rusher, consistently picked up the blitz and even secured Seattle’s first postseason win in over 20 years when he scampered 32 yards on a draw play late in the game against the Washington Redskins.

2006 Outlook: He rarely runs or catches the ball, but Strong seems happy to be out of the limelight. He brings his lunch pail every day and paves the way so that others may gain notoriety. Strong’s work ethic, leadership and blocking skills are a testament to anyone who works hard without national merit, and he should be leading the way for Alexander and the rest of the Seahawks’ backfield once again. Hopefully, he will end up in Hawaii with another Pro Bowl nomination…and maybe a Super Bowl ring to go along with it.


Leonard Weaver
Ht/Wt: 6’0”/251 Yr: 2 Age: 23 Carson- Newman College

RUSHING

Year

Team

G

GS

Att

Yards

Avg

Lg

TD

20+

FD

2005

SEA

16

0

17

80

4.7

24

0

1

3

CAREER

16

0

17

80

4.7

24

0

1

3

A fan favorite during the preseason last year, Weaver didn’t play much on offense, but was a part of the coverage and return units as a rookie free agent. Weaver isn’t as adept a lead-blocker as Strong is (few are), but he possesses rare vision and agility for a man his size – not to mention one of the more vicious stiff-arms this side of Walter Payton. He’s worked hard this past off-season, and reports indicate that he’s improved as a blocker.

2006 Outlook: Having a year of experience under his belt is huge because Weaver is going to get a serious challenge as Strong’s primary backup from incoming rookie David Kirtman, who mirrors Weaver’s skills and is a better receiver out of the backfield. Even if Kirtman beats Weaver out for the number two fullback spot, there is still a chance Weaver could be the third running back behind Alexander and Maurice Morris. Seattle will certainly endeavor to find a place for his skills if at all possible.


David Kirtman
Ht/Wt: 6’0”/232 Yr: R Age: 23 USC

RUSHING

Year

Team

G

GS

Att

Yards

Avg

Lg

TD

2005

USC

12

12

8

29

3.2

11

1

CAREER

45

17

21

97

4.6

20

1

The Mercer Island native’s parents actually live next door to head coach Mike Holmgren, but make no mistake, Kirtman didn’t get drafted because of where he hails from, he’s about as skilled a receiver out of the backfield as any back to come out of college in years. As the lead blocker for Reggie Bush and Lendale White and the personal protector of Matt Leinart, Kirtman has valuable experience in a complex offensive system and he knows how to win.

2006 Outlook: Strong is firmly entrenched as the starter, but Kirtman is definitely a guy the team will want to get on the field in certain situations. He’s got a great attitude and will be a solid locker room guy. Kirtman and Weaver will battle during camp to see who gets the privilege of backing up the best fullback in the league.


Ran Carthon
Ht/Wt: 6’0”/224 Yr: 3 Age: 25 Florida

RUSHING

Year

Team

G

GS

Att

Yards

Avg

Lg

TD

20+

FD

2005

IND

6

0

13

18

1.4

7

1

0

3

CAREER

6

0

13

18

1.4

7

1

0

3

Carthon spent his first two years in the league with Indianapolis and played in six games last season. A tough inside runner with little speed or shiftiness, Carthon played his college football at the University of Florida and split carries with several backs. Carthon is a hard worker, but likely will be a journeyman during his career in the NFL. Carthon's father, Maurice, was a smash-mouth runner for the New York Giants aand Indianapolis Colts. He currently holds the position of Offensive Coordinator for the Cleveland Browns. The elder Carthon has been a position coach and coordinator since 1994

2006 Outlook: Carthon probably won’t make the final roster, but he’s a solid player who could find success with a team that isn’t as deep in the backfield. If he does make the team, it will be in a reserve role.


Previous Player Analysis Articles:
The Quarterbacks


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